Upon further review…

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, January 17, 2015

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Miss Watkins had a firm grip on Leo’s left arm as she dragged him from the playground.

An aide attended Haley, who had skinned her knee when Leo knocked her down.

“I got pushed!” Leo cried. “I never saw her!”

“Tell it to the principal!” Miss Watkins said. As she glanced back she saw Leo reach for the challenge flag in his hip pocket – a risky move, since he only had one challenge left this semester.

“Oh, no you d- ” she blurted. But he did.

Up went the flag. Instantly, on the outside back wall of the gym, a giant video screen appeared. The kids stopped playing and turned toward the flickering image.

Sure enough, the video – from five different playground cameras as well as the school’s ever-circling drone – showed Dakota clearly pushing Leo as Haley tried to skip past on his blind side. He fell right into her and sent her sprawling.

Miss Watkins released her grip on Leo, switched on the microphone clipped to her belt and made the call.

“After further review, the call on the playground is reversed. Leo gets lunch free tomorrow and still has a challenge remaining. Dakota gets after-school study hall for a week.”

– – –

Eric was having a bad day at the Cheesecake Factory.

“This isn’t quinoa! This is orzo! I ordered quinoa!”

“Nope,” he muttered as he consulted his order pad. “You said orzo and that’s what I wrote. It’s right here.”

He holds out the pad, but the customer can’t read his writing. She reaches into her purse and tosses her flag into the air. It lands in a plate of pasta carbonara at the next table, but the diner there doesn’t mind.

Like everyone else, she has turned to watch the replay on the giant screen that suddenly appears behind the take-out counter.

The reverse-angle 360-degree view shows the customer clearly saying “keeeeen-waaaaah” in slow motion. A zoom-in on Eric’s eyes reveals that as he wrote, he looked up to watch a beautiful girl stroll past.

The crowd roared as the hostess stepped in to make the announcement.

“Upon further review, the customer’s order was written down incorrectly. The order goes back, the customer gets her quinoa and free cheesecake. Eric gets no tip.”

He did, however, get the beautiful girl’s phone number, so it wasn’t a total loss.

– – –

America’s obsession with video replay certainly has us heading in this direction.

There are already cameras everywhere. Most crime investigations now involve watching video captured in a parking lot, a store, a hallway, at an ATM, in a school bus, the dash-cam of a police car or the smartphone of a passerby.

It wouldn’t take a lot more technology for us to just give everyone a challenge flag, put someone in the booth and let the video determine the outcome of every dispute.

After all, we want to get it right, don’t we?

– – –

“You never told me to take the trash out!”

“Yes, I did.”

“Oh no, you didn’t!”

Up goes Mom’s flag. Out pops the screen and sure enough, she’s right. The order was clearly given as the teenager sat in oblivion, lost in a text exchange with his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend.

Now he’s got to keep his room clean for a month, plus take out the trash – and Mom still has three challenges to use between now and when he turns 18.

It’s a good bet she’ll need every one of them.

Bob Buckel is editorial director of the Messenger.

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