The Carrot Problem

A young man had run away from school and was smashing windows and punching people downtown. The authorities were on the scene, standing by and thinking carefully about the situation. “What if we offer him a gift card to Starbucks?” one said. “What if we offer to buy him a car?” another said. “A trip to Disneyland?” said another. “Anything to get him to stop,” said the chief. I couldn’t take it anymore. “But if we give him what he wants he’ll only stop for now. Tomorrow we’ll be in the same situation only it will be worse,” I said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” said the chief. “And you’re going to keep crossing it with that intervention,” I said. “With what intervention?” he said. It was like I was talking to someone who was drunk. A crisis expert came running over with a bag of hard candy. “These can go a long way to diffusing a situation like this,” he said. He tossed a few into the street by the young man and the young man pulled out a king- sized Snickers and gave us the bird. “That worked,” I said. “It’s all information,” said the expert. He ran away and few minutes later he came back with a bag of king-sized Snickers and tossed them to the young man. “It’s a promise that there’ll be more to come,” he said. The young man entered Young’s Bakery through a broken window and returned with a chocolate cake. Holding it in front of him like he was holding someone’s head, he lowered his mouth onto it and took a bite and made a horrible sound with his tongue. “He likes cake,” I said. I’d had enough. I grabbed a blue tarp off a motorcycle nearby and ran after him. He threw the cake at me and made off for the woods behind main street screaming and laughing like a clown. I tackled him and wrapped him in the tarp and held him there until the authorities arrived. “You can release him now, officer,” the chief said. They pushed a piece of hard candy through a hole in the tarp.

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