People! Quit Losing Your *@#%

Okay, fine. The handle of the umbrella was shaped like a samurai sword and the needle at the other end looked very pointy indeed (as umbrella needles do). Maybe you can make the case that the pointy end looked like a rifle. Apparently five different people did just that yesterday and that’s why it was hell with the lid off at the Burlington mall, SWAT guys everywhere, television cameras and choppers everywhere else, a full-on FREAK OUT for a good three hours, everyone searching for the man in the mall with the rifle. Until everyone had to admit that the man in the mall just had an umbrella — a pointy-ended, samurai-handled umbrella, but an umbrella nonetheless.

The cops say they’d do it again, go all out like that, because all threats deserve such vigilance. I say, People: We’ve got to quit freaking the eff out all the time! Remember Star Simpson, the MIT student who strapped a glowing contraption to her chest while attempting to board a flight at Logan, and the cops thought it was a bomb? Or, better yet: Remember when guerrilla marketers for the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force placed ads on LED screens across town and everyone thought they were bombs, too? The city shut down because of that. And Star Simpson moved to Seattle, where she can presumably wear glowing t-shirts in peace.

The point is: We’re better than this. We’re supposed to be of flinty stock. We’re supposed to handle adversity well. (That’s why God gave us 87 years of pain and endlessly awful winters.) We’re supposed to, above all, be smart. So next time let’s recognize the situation: When a man walks out of the rain and into a mall, he probably doesn’t want to shoot up the place with that pointy-ended thing he’s carrying. He just wants to dry off.