21 August 2007

You think terrorists are bad? Watch out for my 11-year old.

Sometimes the passing of a law has obscure and unpropitious results.

With a week left of summer, my 11-year old and her bff trolled around our house yesterday searching for something entertaining to do. The girls, being creative marketeers, spent an hour painting cardboard boxes the likes of a glass of lemon-lime lemonade and quarters. No false advertising under my roof.

Lemonade stand costumesThey planted themselves on our street corner and started selling. A woman drove by shortly after, waving her fist and angrily yelling something in Chinese the girls didn't understand. Another woman came out of her house near their stand. Speaking loudly on her cell phone and glaring at the girls, she said that she was going to call the police.

When I came outside to bring the little well-behaved, hard-working ladies a snack I was approached by two neighbors who firmly told me it was against the law to sell beverages on the street. I looked at them, dumbfounded. What kind of person is against a citrus-y beverage on a hot day. Had I been working at the computer so long that society's values had changed? What was next?

Finger painting is graffiti?

Playing patty cake is considered ultimate fighting?

Pretending Barbie and Ken were kissing makes you a pimp?

Well, we're good citizens, so we broke down our criminal activity and sat down inside to marvel at the anger of our neighbors and the misappropriation of legislature.

I found this article afterward.

"...before serving the first customer, the child will need to obtain a $60 license to sell beverages. That's what seven-year-old Mikaela Ziegler found out after the city's Office of Licenses, Inspections and Environmental Protection shut down her refreshment stand."
I guess there really is a law on this. We live in a stratified neighborhood of single family homes and a high percentage of Mexican immigrants. A couple of blocks away the day workers line up on the street awaiting a ride to a day of underpaid, illegal hard labor. Many of the immigrants have relatives who work on farms and sometimes they acquire some of their inventory -- oranges, strawberries, flowers -- and attempt to sell them on the street.

The police have regular campaigns to monitor day worker activity, ticketing on behavior like, if a day worker enters a vehicle that stopped on the street rather than a parking place, they say that was illegal. I know this because I found a lost report which had been filled out by an officer who had been marking down, by street corner, how many workers were standing there on any given day and how many tickets they had given out. So the legislation to end illegal activity has now overflowed to a sad point I think.

The problem is not the selling of stuff on the street. The problem is the government's policy and perhaps resource pool to contain and support illegal immigrants.


Luke Armour said...

A similar thing happened in my hometown a few years ago. The local health inspector shut down a kid's lemonade stand because she didn't have a license. His thought was that it would teach her about red tape, ahem, I mean proper legal procedures. But it just made him look like a jerk.
What confuses me is the angry reactions she got from the community! People are that mad about it?

Lisa Padilla said...

Yes, they are mad. I don't think San Mateo is an especially kid-friendly place.

The school lunches are horrendous too. I'll see what I can get done in the PTA this year. You really do have to fight for your rights.

Jan Sandred said...

There are only two things that are infinite, the size of the universe and mankind’s stupidity. But I’m not sure about the universe size. Here’s another example on weird government policy: http://tinyurl.com/ytsbxh

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