“From “Scared Straight” to “Straight Scared”

Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster

Did you ever hear about the “Scared Straight” program?

It was designed to deter juvenile participants from future criminal offenses.

The teens would visit actual inmates, observe, first-hand, prison life and have interaction with actual adult inmates.

I’ve never experienced an actual “Scared Straight” session, but I think I’ve come close.

First off, as a Cub Scout, our troop visited the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.

It’s the same facility where the movie, “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed.

Our troop walked onto the floor of the prison’s general population.

It was summer but I remember it been quite cool where we stood and it smelled of urine.

There were cells on either side of us that seemed to rise hundreds of feet in the air.

The inmates could see us and they were yelling loudly.

My guess is most of them weren’t quoting Shakespeare.

It scared the bejeebers out of me.

Years later, I got to tour the county jail in Columbus, Indiana.

They let me go into the “drunk tank” where Otis Campbell, the town drunk from the Andy Griffith Show would have stayed.

However, he wouldn’t have been able to let himself into his cell.

I doubt he could have done that in the fictional town of Mount Pilot.

Otis was actually Harold John “Hal” Smith, a veteran voice actor who did voices for several Disney characters including “Goofy”, “Grumpy and Sleepy” and “Winnie the Pooh” plus “The Flinstones”, “Scoobie Doo”, “Yogi Bear” and several Looney Toons characters.

But on my visit to the county jail and the “drunk tank”, I felt a cold shiver run up my spine when the deputy locked the door. That “sound of confinement” made me feel quite uncomfortable.

Frankly, while it wasn’t “Scared Straight”, aspects of military basic training can have similar effects on you.

It can definitely be a “Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas any more” feeling.

These days, however, I think there are some who don’t want to scare us straight but rather, to straight scare us.

I was having lunch with some military vet buddies recently and someone mentioned an approaching winter storm.

Several guys said they needed to get some milk and other foodstuffs before the flakes arrived.

I was sitting there, thinking to myself, “In my 70+ years on this plant, I’ve expeienced only one time when I couldn’t get out and go due to the weather.

That was “The Blizzard of 1978” and that kept me and 6 others stranded at the local radio station we employed at for 4 days.

Yet, every time there’s snow on the way, ominous reporters say this next “Storm of the Century” is going to buckle our knees.

You will see seemingly normal individuals dragging and pushing shopping carts with mounds of milk, bread and toilet paper through the checkout lines.

But I think these “sources” are being purposeful.

They want us to be edgy.

They want us to be apprehensive.

They want us to be scared.

One dog can herd an entire flock of sheep if he’s aggressive and pushy.

Ask yourself honestly.

Have you ever run out of toilet paper during a winter storm?

So use something else.

Maybe one of the extra loaves of bread you bought. If you don’t freeze them or eat them, they’ll be mold farms before long.

Same goes for the milk.

If you don’t drink it all during the storm, I hope you like cottage cheese.

So who’s behind this “scare tactic”?

Evil, money-hungry food retailers?

Overly dramatic TV weather faces?

A megalomaniac like Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies?

It might be “D”, all the above.

I really think our next President should be Oscar Myer because we’re becoming a nation of weenies.

You don’t need to storm the stores before the storm if you have a pantry with a few food items in it.

OMG! If you can’t make it to your favorite “Flue-Flue” coffee place because of the “blizzard” you can always make your own hot drink.

If “Grub Hub” can’t get to you, toughen up, Buttercup and make a peanut butter sandwich.

Instead of staring at the TV for yet another Doppler radar red, green and orange “death sweep”, turn off the tube and consider the intricacies of all those snowflakes while being thankful you put that suet cake out for the chickadees.

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