My dad works at a pharmacy. Like a bank, his store holds a large inventory of sought-after goods, namely prescription drugs. And also like a bank, his store is equipped with a silent police alarm that workers can step on to call the police if there is a robbery. it’s activated by small buttons hidden underneath the counters that can be triggered by a quick footstep. Once, someone accidentally stepped on the button and activated the alarm, sending an alert to the local PD. Within a minute, the cops called the pharmacy to ask if everything was OK. The employee who accidentally tripped the alarm apologized over the phone, and told the cops that they were fine, and to ignore the alarm. Even so, a police cruiser appeared at my dad’s pharmacy to verify that nobody was holding up the employees for cash and drugs.

This is a very good policy.

How could the police have known whether the employee was telling the truth? How could they have known if an armed robber was aiming a loaded gun at whoever was telling them not to stop by? They couldn’t. When they called the pharmacy in response to the silent alarm, the police had no way of knowing what was actually going on inside the store. With a gun pointed at your head, you will say anything to stop it from being blown off. A live round has a persuasive personality. So the cops dropped by for a visit, regardless of what the employee said. This story had waited in my mind until a recent visit from a coworker.

One sleepy afternoon, my office mate’s husband stopped by for a short visit with his wife. Eventually, all three of us started talking about what it’s like to be a parent and try to raise a child. I told them both that kids are definitely on my won’t-do list. Just then, she whipped out her knowing, loaded look. He tensed, paused, and started talking about how wonderful it was to be a parent, and how it was the ‘most important job in the world.’

I wished I hadn’t raised the topic. The tension was sickening. He stood still, barely moving except for a slight shuffling of his feet while he talked. He was standing in the crosshairs. Taking a deep breath, he elaborated how nothing compares to the joy of raising a child. How it’s so great to see his kid grow and develop towards a fully functional adult. At this, she seemed satisfied and put away her gaze.

He had managed to reach the switch. The cruisers would appear shortly.

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