Saturday, March 24, 2012

Forests and Trees

Here in the State of Concrete Gardens - specifically in bucolic Monmouth County - 18 year old Brookdale Community College freshman (a/k/a the county college for Monmouth County) Cedric Calero appeared destined to make an appearance in Municipal Court next week to defend himself against a disorderly persons offense. What was his transgression? According to a manager at the college's cafeteria, Calero stole a cup of ice. Go ahead, feel free to go back and read that sentence again while I whisper reassuringly in your ear, "You read it correctly - he is charged with stealing a cup of ice." I say "appeared" because after close to sixty days' worth of time wasted and who knows how many taxpayer dollars in hot pursuit (it is after all a County college) yesterday the charges against him were dropped. I was going to say that they "melted away" but decided against going for the cheap belly laugh.

According to Calero, on January 31 he purchased french fries in the cafeteria, walked to the register to pay for them and before he could ask the cashier for a cup of ice the cashier stepped away from the register. According to Calero he presumed that both cups and ice were free so he helped himself to a cup, filled it with ice and sat down at a table to eat his fries. His apparent ploy - hiding in plain sight in an obvious homage to James Caan - did not fool the cafeteria's manager.

Whether it is in the college's course catalog I know not but Brookdale's area of expertise appears to be making mountains out of mole hills. From the Asbury Park Press:

According to the police report, Calero reached over the food service counter when the cashier was not present and took an empty soda cup. He “then filled the cup at the self-service station with ice and possibly a beverage and left the area without paying for the product.” The beverage would have cost $1.80.

Calero, a first-year student at Brookdale, told the Asbury Park Press that he had paid for an order of french fries but the cashier had walked away before he could ask her for a cup. So he took the cup, filled it with ice and sat down with his friends. A few minutes later, the manager approached Calero’s table and asked Calero to follow him. Calero said he offered to pay for the cup after the manager accused him of stealing but the manager said he already called the police.

Think is gets no sillier? Think again. In the words of the much-maligned Captain Smith of the HMS Titanic, "We have seen but the tip of the iceberg." Again, from the Asbury Park Press:

Calero had an initial hearing with Christopher Jeune, Brookdale’s administrator for judicial affairs and student information, on Feb. 20. Calero apparently broke the student conduct code and was charged with theft and interference with the performance of duties of a college employee. He was supposed to submit to five hours of community service and pay 50 cents in restitution.

Joseph Calero, Cedric’s uncle, said Jeune agreed to scratch the interference offense if Cedric immediately signed an admission of guilt for the theft charge, but Joseph Calero and his sister-in-law wouldn't let the young man sign it because the theft charge would have been added to Cedric’s school record. They claim Jeune told him he had to sign immediately, but then couldn’t produce any written policy backing up that claim. The family said Jeune gave them 24 hours to sign. They drove straight to a lawyer’s office.

And of course the epic saga of Cedric Calero, Ice Pirate was STILL not over. On March 2 - a day unique in recorded history because there was absolutely NOTHING OF CONSEQUENCE happening, which afforded the "educators" (stretching that word to its definitional limits in an effort to honor Einstein's rules regarding relativity)ample opportunity to conduct a disciplinary hearing, the inmates running this particular asylum did so. Why not? After all nothing is more sacrosanct on an American college campus than instilling discipline in that school's students. Once more, from the Asbury Park Press:

William Bajohr, the Woodbridge attorney representing Calero, worked with the school’s attorney during the disciplinary hearing March 2 to get the offenses downgraded. Calero ultimately signed a statement that he interfered with a school employee. He was required to write a 500-word essay about the importance of following the rules.

No indication as to whether the disciplinary board ordered Mr. Jeune to author an essay of similar length on the importance of distinguishing those things that are important from those that are not. There is as much likelihood of that happening as there is of BCC offering a program to earn an Associate's Degree in Logic. Do not look for it in the course catalog. 'Tis not there.

Truth be told it does not appear to be obtainable anywhere on campus. Maybe they should add it. Hell, if they did they could charge a fee for it. Something reasonable of course. How does a buck-eighty sound?


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