Everyone deserves a second chance or, at least, a second helping of one’s own words, refried, re-seasoned and finally made palatable, if only just.
So it was last week when Rothesay, New Brunswick, Mayor Bill Bishop all but retracted his comments about the dreaded Funky Monkey Sandwich Shop, a food truck from nearby Quispamsis.
Lest we forget, the Bishop of Rothesay characterized his community thusly: “You have to know Rothesay, it is not your regular community. We people here have been here for decades and they (I, perchance?) have very firm beliefs, and needs and wants and the word change in Rothesay is not a welcome word.”
As the CBC reported, “Bishop said he has nothing against Dan Landry, the Funky Monkey’s owner, but a mobile restaurant is ‘not the type of enterprise that we welcome in Rothesay.’”
What a difference a day and social media makes. No sooner had hizzoner expressed his inner thoughts with his outer voice, the chocolate mousse hit the fan. Facebook and Twitter (themselves, vectors of dreaded “change”) erupted with heaping doses of ridicule, topped with thick dollops of derision.
Apparently, this inspired the following mea culpa from Rothesay’s first citizen (again, on Facebook and Twitter):
“I have received many calls and emails regarding my comments on the Funky Monkey Food Truck and I have also seen the considerable debate this has generated in social media. Clearly, I chose my words poorly and I apologize to those I offended, and in particular to the owners of the Funky Monkey. . .My concern was ensuring that mobile food establishments fit appropriately within municipal regulations and operate fairly with other restaurants. We welcome entrepreneurs to our community and we are grateful to any business, such as the Funky Monkey, that enhances the quality of life in Rothesay.”
Still, I can’t help wonder if Mr. Bishop would have been as effusive in his praise for an establishment that, only 24 hours before, he effectively derided had instant electronic communications never been invented.
Indeed, the phrase, “It’s too late, now, pal,” comes to mind.
Four years ago, Darren Cahr, a partner in the Chicago law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP observed on his blog, Legally Social, “We are entering a new age of transparency – for you. Everyone will know more about you, and your secrets, and every detail of your private existence.”
In fact, he wrote, “Nearly every technological development over the past several years has been devoted to capturing data. Document management systems and data mining, e-mail archives and browser cookies – all of these things and so many more are devoted to finding and maintaining data. But if the growth of electronic media has resulted in the dawn of an age where nothing is ever forgotten, it is suddenly becoming apparent that a lot of folks miss that option. People want to have their mistakes erased, they want to be able to step away from that drunk moment on Twitter. But they can’t. Individuals are becoming like flies caught in amber, a series of embarrassing moments frozen in time forever.”
All of which is just one way of saying that the social media – the realm where nothing is ever forgotten – is also a place where nothing is ever forgiven.
According to a CBC report, various Facebookers were having none of what the mayor offered to serve.
“I should like to hear the mayor comment on what he actually said, instead of eating crow and commenting on something he did not say,” posted one Thomas Littlewood. “His Worship’s original statement suggests that Rothesay is too elitist to support something like a food truck; now he just wants to make sure that it fits with municipal by-laws? Which is it?”
Added Marlyn Isaac in her post: “The horse is already out of the barn.”
As for Funky Monkey’s tireless proprietor Dan Landry, he’s holding up. Reports from the front lines of the food truck skirmish suggest that he’s having to turn thronging admirers away.
“At this time, we’re not as worried as we were a couple of days ago,” he told the CBC. “But, yes, there is still a concern that there’s a negative force working against us.”
Oh, puh-leeze! With enemies like Mayor Bishop, who needs friends?