Best keep your hands to yourself


Bad news has this habit of sneaking up from behind when I am relaxing in my rocking chair. Man has to wrestle with man-made laws, and high-handedness as you know is universal. Little changes from country to country except the rules of engagement. The pin hold on the individual remains the same, no matter where you live. Life, in the long run, will kill you. And then, as reliable soothsayers confirm, you die. But, what if you don’t leave the planet for good, and are left to nurse insult upon injury, as in the following report?

A Florida airboat captain, 63-year-old Wallace Weatherholt, who works for Captain Doug’s Everglades Tours, had his arm bitten off by an alligator this summer. The Indiana family, who were in the captain’s tour boat, saw the old hand dangle a fish over the side of the boat very close to water, when a pair of vicious teeth snapped.

The captain was rushed to NHC hospital in Naples, FA. Response time is used to gauge how emergencies are handled here, so a brisk investigation soon followed. According to law, the attacker must return the missing item, if criminal charges have to be dropped. Wildlife officers promptly tracked and killed the “main accused” alligator in front of frightened tourists, in order to retrieve the missing arm. News reports didn’t quite elaborate, but discerning onlookers might have even noticed alligator tears as the drama unfolded.

Getting out of hand

Weatherholt’s doctors at the hospital, so say reports, could not re-attach the arm. Killing the beast, however, was the only way perhaps to give fair warning to other animals in the area, and to demonstrate to all and sundry how far the long arm of the law could reach! Just in case you didn’t know, feeding alligators is considered second-degree misdemeanor in the state of Florida, U.S.A.

Sensing unfinished business, the law went after the hapless captain next. Collier County Jail records show that 63-year-old Wallace Weatherholt was charged with unlawful feeding, and later agreed to settle a thousand dollar bond, just to be able to stay outdoors. His next court date was set for August 22. Frankly, I’ve lost track now. U.S. law, unlike what it might be elsewhere, wants you to keep your hands to yourself, and not take things lightly should you let them stray.

Most people hate hospitals, courts, and jails. They hate bad news too. But day in and day out do they love soaking in the news, which never stops short of the good, the bad, or the ugly? Sitting in my rocking chair, rocked by the aforementioned report, I come across another twister — no wildlife, this time:

A woman named Angela Prattis of Chester Township, outside Philadelphia, may soon be fined for feeding school children in her neighborhood. She has spent the past few months handing out free lunches to kids while they were on summer break from school. The food, supplied by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is intended for low-income residents earning $19,000 or less annually.

Price to pay

The City Council has warned Angela that if she continues her philanthropy next summer, she will need a variance or pay a $600 fine per day! The variance could cost nearly $1000 in administrative fees. The Council had allowed Prattis to continue her random acts of kindness this summer on condition she files paperwork weekly, and a state worker monitors her moves on a regular basis. Angela Prattis, who is doing all this for free, was touched by the poor condition of her neighbors’ houses, with roofs caving in, months-old trash lying around, and unkempt backyards.

In America, no good deed goes unpunished, but Angela’s case may pale in comparison to the bleak future facing “alligator Weatherholt.” Disheartened as you are, your mind may be racing back and forth between the alligator and the missing arm. That was an unkind cut, I agree. But, being where you are, you’ve probably heard or seen worse. As I sit here in my broken back porch taking in the fickle New England weather, I can see clearly through the beer bubbles in my glass: Life is just not just.

Shyam Bhatya


Filed under Breaking News

2 responses to “Best keep your hands to yourself

  1. Sheela

    You have spoken the truth. Did you draw the pictures yourself? That is another talent of yours!

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