Archive for February 23rd, 2010

Playing Footsie With Reality

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

There was just not a lot of good news on this day last year.  Maybe that’s why we got such a kick about a human foot found on a conveyer belt at a recycling plant in Seneca, a small town in upstate New York.

Naturally the workers at Casella Waste Management were quite concerned when they saw the foot coming down the line. Are human body parts recyclable?  Was the rest of the body on its way? Was somebody just putting his best foot forward and keeping the rest?

As rumors ran rampant, law enforcement and county officials called the media for a press conference. They looked grim. Yes, initial medical reports said the foot was human and only partially decomposed. Yes, we’re sending it the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office for DNA confirmation. No, it has not been determined if it’s a male or female foot. No, we don’t know if it’s from a child or an adult.

Please people, they said, stop calling the police with reports of missing persons until we kick this thing around a bit and see what’s up.  Casella Waste gets refuse from 15 New York counties and parts of Canada – we’ve got to check all of them.  Yes, we’re on our toes down here – we know what we’re doing.

By Tuesday the crisis was peaking.  The plant was closed and inspectors were all over the place like smell on garbage. Then, a shocking development!  The foot was tracked to Canada – specifically to a load from a recycling centre on New Toronto Street, near Lake Shore Boulevard.  The Toronto Homicide Department stepped in.

“It could only be one of two things: medical waste or foul play,” said Toronto police Staff Sgt. David Vickers.  Uh oh.

The kicker came on Thursday.

“After days of DNA testing, we’ve determined that what we have is not a human foot – but probably the foot of a black bear,” said Seneca Sheriff Philip Povero. Oops – a bear foot – not a bare foot!  How embearassing! At least now Toronto Police could refocus their investigation to search for a large, black bear hopping around their city.

And what can we learn from this drama?  Something computer geeks taught us long ago  – “Garbage In – Garbage Out”.