Let's hear it for the Caledonia, Wisconsin police, who are alerting neighbors in the proximity of something truly terrifying: A man who spoke to two girls without getting out of his car.
Perhaps the best thing about this story is the headline, from WDJT in Milwaukee: "Potentially Suspicious Man Asks Girls about Buying Girl Scout Cookies."
Is "potentially suspicious" even a thing? Aren't we all potentially suspicious? Anyway, here's the story:
Caledonia Police Department notified residents that a man suspiciously was asking two girls if they were selling Girl Scout cookies on Tuesday.
Hmm. How do you suppose you ask a question suspiciously? Do you "heh heh heh" after posing your query? Do you put "cookies" in air quotes? Do you have an insulin needle in your arm, suggesting that you actually do not eat cookies? It really doesn't matter. All that matters is the hypothetical danger (boldface mine):
"As the intentions of the male are not known, and may in fact be nothing more than what it seems on face value, his actions were suspicious enough for him to contact his police department. Since we were not able to speak with the driver, we do not know if his intentions were as innocent as they appear to be or a ruse for something different," said the Caledonia Police Department in a release.
The father of the two girls reported the incident occurred on Tuesday around4:45 PM in the 4400 block of West Johnson Ave.
Two girls, ages 7-years-old and 11-years-old, were standing at the end of a driveway.
A red Ford Ranger, extended cab with stickers in the back window stopped in the street and the driver, a dark haired white man asked the girls if they were selling Girl Scout Cookies. The girls said they were not and the subject left the scene. This incident was witnesses [sic] by the father of the two girls who reported the incident to us.
Here's Skenazy's rule of thumb: When something is called an "incident," assume nothing happened at all. An incident is only an incident if it wasn't a crime, a melee, a disaster, or an attack. In fact, I'd venture to say an incident is almost always a non-incident.
And yet the police are considering this one a teachable moment:
"We are letting the public know what happened so this can be a teaching incident for the families of our community."
Teaching what? Teaching kids that if someone asks you a question, you should immediately alert your parents? Or teaching parents to re-enforce their children's dread of strangers by immediately calling the cops?
Well, both actually:
Please remind your children how to handle contact with strangers when they are approached," said Caledonia Police Department.
If you have had an incident like this police are encouraging you to contact 886-2300.
So remember: If something bad has not happened to your children, please call the police. Because this is how to handle contact with strangers: Freak out, summon the authorities, and have them freak everyone else out, too.
Just a reminder from the folks who need you to be scared: your local cops.