This week has been an emotional roller coaster for Canadians who follow the news.
Wednesday, we learned that Dellen Millard, a 27-year-old aviation wunderkind, had been arrested and charged with, among other things, first degree murder in the Bosma case.
Thursday, Senator Mike Duffy resigned his seat in the Conservative caucus, after news broke that the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff had bailed him out to the tune of $90,000 so he could repay housing expenses he had inappropriately charged to the Senate. Duffy's resignation was followed Friday by news that his fellow Senator (and former colleague) had also quit the Tory caucus while her expense claims are investigated by auditors.
Rounding out the week was the bombshell allegation that a video depicting Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine has surfaced and is for sale.
It was heady, heavy stuff in a week of very defined 24 or 48-hour news cycles.
Lost in the shuffle were two stories that were of no particular importance, relatively speaking, to Canadians, but still managed to generate some discussion on blogs and radio stations on Wednesday.
On one hand, there is the story about Avenues, a tiny $43,000 a year private school in Manhattan that seeks to teach its young charges humility through its diverse curriculum. On the other, is this story, in which we learn about the way well-heeled Manhattan moms have worked the lineup system at Disney by hiring a disabled person to be a "family member" for the day.
No swiping a Fast-Pass for them. No teaching their progeny that good things come to those who wait. Nope. Instead, they teach them that everything is available if you're willing to pay for it, and everyone has a price. In this case, it's $1,000 a day, plus free admission to Disney.
I'm not sure if it's one disabled person servicing wealthy Manhattanites, or if there's an actual business where people who use motorized scooters or other assistive devices can apply. Either way, I'm not knocking those folks who sign up for this gig. I don't know their financial circumstances and am in no fit place to judge. Perhaps a dozen days at Disney will pay a year's tuition for their son or daughter to attend university. Maybe it will get them a prosthetic limb, pay for a reconstructive surgery or allow them to retrofit their home. Maybe it just gives them joy in otherwise hollow lives. All of them are worthy reasons to hire yourself out for the day to hang out with a family that likely wouldn't look at you twice if you passed them on Fifth Avenue. That is, of course, if you can stomach the task.
Why a family would want to hire a complete stranger to be part of their family vacation from a random company is beyond me. They could simply contract out Disney's own VIP service, although it does come at nearly three times the price.
Full disclosure: I've been on a press trip to Walt Disney World. And to Sea World/Discovery Cove. And also to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure. And to Busch Gardens, too.
I've been that "front of the line" person. It's honestly the only way to endure the truly brutal pace of dragging a family through five amusement parks in four days. I heard children ask their parents why me and my motley group breezed right past them and walked in without waiting in line. And I can tell you this: No amount of justification about time crunches could take away the fact that it was uncomfortable to see the looks and hear the whispers and know that, had I paid for the trip myself, I'd be the one standing in line shaking my head in disbelief while some yahoo cut the queue.
Which brings me to humility. The Avenues school opened in September 2012, with the express purpose of instilling a sense of humility in young up-and-comers that college admission officers reported were lacking in young people coming out of the 212. It seems to me to be a noble enough cause and, hey, if parents can afford to shell out about half a million dollars in tuition fees before their child heads off university, more power to them. Again, who am I to judge? If my husband and I were movers and shakers in midtown Manhattan instead of workaday folks in Southern Ontario, we might make the same choice ourselves.
Still, it's impossible to miss the disconnect between the lesson who group of "one per cent" parents purport to want to instil in their children and the sense of entitlement members of that same exclusive club (perhaps, even, the same PTA) are instilling in their special snowflakes by teaching them that good things may come to those who wait, but if you don't have to wait, it's even better.