RULE-BENDING

Benjamin Franklin said, “The Constitution only guarantees Americans the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

That makes sense, but of course there are rules to be followed during the pursuit and where there are rules, there will always be rule-benders.

Those who believe that wealth is a vital ingredient of happiness become impatient with any rules that stand between them and Easy Street. There’s the pol who forgets that the donated funds are for his campaign expenses and not his champagne flights and the financial officer with his sure-fire recipe for cooking the books.

Many of these perps end up with no money worries and living in gated communities. However, the gates are locked and armed guards are posted on the walls.

We all occasionally try to circumvent an inconvenient regulation, usually on a small scale, and maybe not even involving money. A friend told me his doctor had ordered him to walk two miles every day to maintain his fitness and health . “It was pretty awful the first week,” he said. “I was out of shape and exhausted after those two-mile forced marches, but then, luckily, I found a shortcut.”

In 1938 Douglas Corrigan, a young flyer from Texas, was refused official permission for a transatlantic flight to Europe. After flying his single engine plane from California to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, he took off again, supposedly for a return flight to California, but ended up landing in Ireland instead. His excuse for the significant route change was low cloud cover that he said obscured the view of the ocean below, and his misreading of his compass. He became famous as “Wrong Way Corrigan” and never publicly changed his story. After all, the authorities must have been embarrassed. They’d said his plane wasn’t capable of a flight to Europe.

Once when I was a little kid I wanted to go to the movies, but the admission price then was ten cents and I had only one lonely nickel. I asked my older brother Jim for a loan. “I can’t help you,” he said, “but you can get in with a nickel. Just tell them you’re going to watch the movie with one eye closed.” I was only seven years old and dumb enough to think that might work.

The theater manager laughed in my face and said, “Okay, kid, but if I catch you opening the other eye during the movie I’m calling the cops and I’ll have you arrested..” I was also dumb enough to believe him and I left. I’d recently seen a scary George Raft movie about Sing Sing Prison and I didn’t want to end up in the slammer. A week later I returned wearing an eye patch, but that didn’t work either.



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