Misdirected Sympathy

22 Nov

fan-falls-from-top-deck-to-bottom-in-buffalo-b (1)You know how that guy got up onto a railing up in the 300 level at the Ralph? He put his ass on the railing, started to slide down, lost his balance, and plummeted into the level below, and onto another human being; an innocent and wholly unsuspecting human being, who was simply minding his or her own business, spectating a football game. 

We don’t know if the faller was drunk or high, or just stupid. Regardless, he made a poor and reckless choice, and could have killed himself – or worse, someone else. That no one died is amazing. 

So, let’s just say it: the rail-sliding asshole made a dick move and deserves what’s coming to him – firing, barred from the stadium, public embarrassment, and a thick and juicy lawsuit which may very well bankrupt him. He deserves every bit of it, just like you fervently believe that Dr. Corasanti deserved to be punished for striking Alex Rice with his car and killing her. 

But I’ve seen a lot of hand-wringing in the media about the fallout from the reckless slider’s dick move. Oh, Eric Mower went to far by firing him! Oh, the Bills are overreacting! Oh, his poor life is roo-ned

FFS. 

This column in the Niagara Gazette perfectly distills the sympathy-for-the malfeasor angle. Let’s fisk it. 

My husband and I were having dinner with my oldest son the other day when he told us he knows that guy who fell onto another fan at Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game.

After talking with my son about his friend. I could feel a turnabout in my reaction to the event.

When I first heard the story, I felt queasy. Who among us can’t picture themselves enjoying a Bills game on a beautiful sunny day, minding our own business? Nobody ever thinks that some knucklehead will fall on us from the deck up above.

But as I learned more about the young man, it was like someone had refocused the lens on my awareness and suddenly the poor, unsuspecting fan who was fallen upon went out of my focus and the young man who fell upon him came into focus.

This is astonishing. Because your son is friends with a kid who just got through ruining his life, we can just forget about the guy who is the real victim and attempt to turn the reckless slider into a hero? What bizarro world is this? Let’s be clear – the reckless slider is lucky. to. be. alive. That’s it, full stop. 

I’m willing to bet that if the dummy who fell was just some average blue-collar shlub who lost his job delivering pizzas, no one would bat an eye. This? This was a good boy

Clearly, the faller made some bad choices, chief among them deciding it would be cool to slide down a railing at the edge of the top deck of seats.

Crazy, right? I’ve been in the upper decks. I don’t even like to stand up by those seats, they’re so far from the ground.  Who would mess around up there?

But, the other night at dinner, hearing about what’s happened to this guy, I couldn’t help but feel for him.

Not bad choices – dick move. He put his own life and the lives of others in direct peril, and for what? Bravado? Drunken feat of sliding? I have zero sympathy whatsoever for the person who set his own chain of negative events in motion

After the video of his fall went viral, he was fired from his job at at Eric Mower and Associates. His employer announced the firing on Facebook. The Bills banned him from the stadium — forever. Add to his punishment that he hurt someone with his thoughtless behavior, in an action which will be available to watch again and again on the Internet until the end of time. The road for this guy is bound to go steeply uphill for a while.

Wait a minute here. Your sympathy switched from fallee to faller because he got fired and can never set foot in the Ralph again? And because his fall will be on YouTube? Is this for real? 

First of all, we have to presume that the faller was an at-will employee with Eric Mower. This means that the company could have fired him because the sun was shining or not shining; they could have fired him because it was a Tuesday – an at-will employee can be fired at any time for any reason at all, or no reason whatsoever, just as he can terminate his own employment in the same way and for the same reasons.

If Mower decided it didn’t want some asshole who recklessly falls on top of other people at football games on its payroll, it is wholly within its rights to get rid of him. Furthermore, he had a side business, and if his fall is so goddamn great for humanity, maybe he can use it as a selling point for his own design shop. “Hire us: we almost kill people” might be an effective slogan. I dunno, I’m not in marketing. 

He can’t ever go to a Bills game again? Boo hoo cry me the Buffalo River. Again: he’s lucky he isn’t up on manslaughter charges. So his choices of entertainment venues has a subtraction of one. Small price to pay. 

YouTube? If you don’t want people to turn you into a Tosh.O bit, then don’t try that shit at home. 

My son, who is not one to suffer fools gladly, described his friend as an intelligent, kind and funny young man. 

Because I respect my son’s opinion, I had to reconsider my own.

I imagine most of us, at one time or another, have done something colossally stupid and just got lucky that things didn’t end badly.

While my initial response was to feel deep sympathy for the man who was fallen upon, I now — knowing the rest of the story — also feel deep sympathy for the man who fell.

So, because he’s your son’s friend, he doesn’t deserve to suffer the consequences of his actions?

To him — as the mother of his friend — I would like to say this:

Surely you wish this never happened to you, but what I have learned repeatedly in my years, is that you don’t want to wish someone away from an experience that could shape their character and their destiny, because even the most horrific events are rich with opportunity for personal growth.

Maybe he should add it to his resume: “Achieved personal growth through a bad choice that almost killed myself and someone else”. 

There are two paths that lie ahead for you. You can let that horrible day in the stadium define you and perhaps destroy the very best that you are or you can use the event as an opportunity to evolve into an even better human.

I’m certain you already know all this, as every child is taught some form of what I’m saying here, but I also know from experience that we forget the most important life lessons, just when we need them most.

Take the consequences of your actions bravely and do not complain. Make it right as best you can with the most integrity you can muster.

Hope you’re judgment-proof, have good insurance, or a good lawyer! You’re going to be facing criminal and civil time in court. 

You’re getting beat up in the media and online. Forgiving yourself for this incident will be the hardest. Flog yourself a little if you must, but then get on with the business of living.

“Forgiving yourself”?! No, flog yourself a fucking lot. Re-examine the person you are and the choices you’ve made. Re-evaluate what led you to show off like that and almost take a life? Don’t forgive a thing – get help. You clearly need it. “Getting on with the business of living” is the sort of feel-good bullshit that teaches people that it’s ok to do fundamentally and palpably stupid, dangerous things as long as you have a modicum of hippie self-awareness. 

You’ve received a hard lesson, at your own hand, but there’s a strong possibility that it could be your most important lesson.

Yes, don’t tempt fate by trying to pull off inherently dangerous stunts. (How much do you want to bet he sues the Ralph himself because, e.g., it didn’t have spikes on the railing to prevent dumb assholes like him from doing dumb asshole moves like he did?) 

Lastly, during this public humiliation, you will learn who your friends are. They will understand what we all inherently know but often forget — that while there are many of us who would have never done anything as wild and risky as what you did, we likely all know and care about at least one other person who might.

 Yeah, no. One thing you learn when you become an adult – and our reckless slider is pushing 30 and has no excuse – is to behave yourself. When you don’t, you’re going to suffer the consequences. And part of being an adult is doing just that, and you don’t whine about it, and you plead with your friends’ moms to please not write sympathetic drivel in the local paper. You’re a dick. Try not being a dick in the future. 

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18 Responses to “Misdirected Sympathy”

  1. Hank Kaczmarek November 22, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Could not believe it. The slider was a dick. Agree they guy who wrote the letter is one as well. Your description of an “At Will” employee is the heart of the “Right to Work State”. They really have that up there?

    • jimd54 November 23, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      Of course, a privately owned company can hire and fire whomever they want.

      • Hank Kaczmarek November 23, 2013 at 11:12 am #

        Workers in a privately owned company cannot be represented by a union?

      • Mike_Chmiel November 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

        They can, but, for the most part are not. The “right to work” distinction only goes toward the legality of unions being able to mandate a closed shop. It has nothing to do with employment at will.

  2. Pauldub November 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Thanks. I could not believe the Gazette article.That’s the kind of stuff you write about a 12 year old that gets caught throwing eggs at the neighbor’s garage. This is an adult. An incredibly stupid one who deserves to suffer the consequences of his idiocy.

  3. TomGleed November 23, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Well, Alan, I think your spot on with your article on this guy, and the Artvoice readers by and large are, too.

  4. Mike_Chmiel November 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    I cannot fathom how anyone can feel sympathy for this clown because he lost his job, and not even consider the poor bastard he landed on, who may now be physically incapable of working.

  5. BufChester November 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    These insightful comments from the Gazette columnist have changed my entire perspective on this incident. I’ve come to conclude that the main fault here lies with the person in the 200 level who was so lazy and slow that they failed to get out of the faller’s way. If that person had simply moved out of the way the poor guy would just have hurt himself and it would probably all have been viewed as a great lark – see Jackass or whatever the name of that inane show where the hosts do stupid things.

    Surely Eric Mower wouldn’t have fired the guy if he’d just fallen onto an empty seat. By failing to get out of the way the 200 level patron not only put himself in harms way (literally) but escalated the whole even to the point that this fine young man’s life is ruined.

  6. joe November 23, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Agreed he should be punished for his actions , lawfully , legally and by the buffalo bills organization, but in no fucking way does his employer have the right to fire him for
    something he has done non work related and outside the
    workplace, now if in some way him attending the game was in any way work related thats a different story period

    • sconnors13 November 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      He could have been very hands on with EMA’s clients. If I’m not mistaken he was an Art Director for EMA. In most cases Art Directors are very hands on with clients. Marketing is based on trust, in which the client trusts the Ad agency with it’s brand. Posting the firing to their Facebook page was a PR move. EMA reached out to their clients giving them assurances that their brands and most importantly their money aren’t in the hands of a drunk twat.

    • Brian Buckley November 25, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      As Alan stated, he can be fired because he sneezed and someone at Eric Mower didn’t like it. You can be fired for ANYTHING in NYS. As sconnors13 said, it’s all about PR. There’s no way an ad agency would want to keep someone that has just caused that much bad PR. It shows nothing but irresponsibility. I would believe that most places of business would fire him for this. It’s just like a business firing an employee for a DUI. You show you are irresponsible and you just became a liability and now probably have issues getting to work.

  7. rhmaccallum November 24, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    Me thinks Alan has never been drunk, never did anything stupid and has never made a dick move. I, on the other hand, have done so many times. I’ve just been luck I guess.

  8. cew74 November 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    I had season tickets for Bills games for quite a few years and for the most part my experience was often ruined by the idiocy of others. I had a drunken idiot fall down the stairs at a Bills game and into me once. My back hurt for weeks. I can’t imagine having someone freaking fall on me from above. It’s just a testament to all the A-holes who think a requirement of of going to a sporting event, or concert, or whatever, is to get as f-d up as possible before doing so. The goal of these events is to go and enjoy watching them. Because you’re a fan. Not getting as wasted as you can. And if you *need* to get that way in order TO enjoy it, maybe you aren’t that big of a fan after all and should stay home so fans CAN enjoy it.

    Rant over.

  9. mike raleigh November 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Big fans of at will employment on this internet thing

    • Alan Bedenko November 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      Stating a fact doesn’t necessarily equal endorsement.

    • robrobrobislike November 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      The guy worked as a PR person at a slimeball PR firm. If he can’t control his public behavior enough not to drunkenly fall out of the stands at a football game and potentially kill someone, why should he keep his job managing other peoples’ public images? Seems like this was termination for cause.

    • mike raleigh November 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      They shouldnt have fired him

  10. Ridgewaycynic2013 November 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Twenty or thirty years ago, those that ‘Icarus’ fell on might well have beat the stuffing out of him, instead of him getting a smirking backboard ride out with paramedics. Then, I doubt any helicopter columnists would have jumped to his defense. Does this mean our society has become more civilized, or just more gullible?

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