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Our Accident Lottery Culture

Via boing boing, a story in the New York Times on a man who, in a bottle of Tropicana grapefruit juice, found what appeared to be an eyeball (but which tests confirmed to be simply mold):

Oct. 27, 2002, Sammi Hadzovic and his sister went shopping at the Costco in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and bought a 24-bottle flat of Tropicana Season's Best Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice.

At home, Mr. Hadzovic's sister started handing out the 10-ounce bottles to her three children. As she shook one bottle, she felt something solid moving inside it.

She looked. She screamed.

An eyeball was floating at the top.

At least it looked like an eyeball -- a very large one, with a wide black pupil, the white rather milky and the edges scalloped and fleshy-pink like the gums of a toothless person.

"It looked like a cow eyeball," said Mr. Hadzovic, 24, an Internet marketer...

"Maybe," Mr. Hadzovic said, "someone who worked for the company didn't like what was going on and decided to plant something on them."

So he called Tropicana and spoke to a customer-service representative.

"I told her straight out, 'I don't want to put this thing in the media, I don't want to bring your whole company down,' " Mr. Hadzovic said. "I asked her, 'Would you be willing to work something out?' "

The voice on the phone offered Mr. Hadzovic a refund. It was not the offer he was hoping to hear. "I was thinking seven figures," he said, "but I would have taken a hundred grand. I'm not a greedy person."

Lawyers told Mr. Hadzovic that because he had not opened the bottle and swigged from it, he would have a hard time proving damages.

"I was thinking seven figures, but I would have taken a hundred grand. I'm not a greedy person." I'm glad we got that straight.

Nothing is truly an accident in America anymore, because to say something is truly an accident is to imply no one should be punished for it, and without punishment, no one wins the accident lottery. Sammi Hadzovic was hoping he had won the accident lottery to the tune of a million dollars, because -- in his mind -- a disgruntled worker had placed an eyeball in a bottle of juice that Hadzovic happened to buy. Even had this been true, on what account did he believe he deserved a million dollars? A hundred thousand dollars? Anything more than a refund and an apology?

This is one of the things I like the least about my country. It's pathetic.


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