February 21, 2009

When Negotiating Season and Flat-Tire Season Coincide

Justin Katz

In a comment to my post about Tiverton school officials' ambiguous admission of intimidation by the National Education Association, Cranstoner Donald Botts relates the following anecdote:

My take on their comments was that the union was attempting to use intimidation tactics against them, but they either were not intimidated or didn't want to admit they were intimidated.

I spoke at a school committee meeting in Cranston recently. Magically, roofing nails appeared at the end of my driveway. I was not performing any home improvement projects at the time.


Each of my family's vehicles has had a flat tire, recently. With my work van, it was a roofing nail; with my wife's car (which I use when not working), it was two punctures, sans implement.

Of course, being a carpenter, I'm very slow to look elsewhere to explain such things. Moreover, amidst the daily inconveniences that arise from working full-time in a construction trade, having three children, owning a fifty-year-old home, living in Rhode Island, being politically active, and writing for this here blog, flat tires are things to be taken in stride. Heck, it's been so long since I was above grade, what's another shovelful out of the hole I'm digging?

It strikes me as a particularly foolish mechanism of intimidation, though, if there's another explanation for flat tires than the terrible condition of our state's roads: If they appear to be coincidental, the action will have no effect on behavior. On the other side of the spectrum, strongly suspecting a human agent behind a mere inconvenience will surely tend to increase one's resolve.


Mr. Botts sends along a picture of the nails — of assorted sizes — collected from the driveway, sidewalk, and grass in front of his home, as if tossed from a car:

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If those nails were (as suspected) deliberately placed by retributive teachers, you can at least take solace in the knowledge that they were installed by "professionals!"

Posted by: Tom W at February 21, 2009 12:24 PM


It was obviously a math teacher that did that to your van. With a 22% proficiency rate for math in this state and the fact that only ONE nail was used...it HAD to be a math teacher. They obviously can't deal with numbers any higher than ONE!

Posted by: Bill at February 21, 2009 1:31 PM

If we do get that snow tomorrow complicating my drive to work, I'll know just who to blame LOL.

Posted by: rhody at February 21, 2009 6:20 PM

1.) This is nasty. How do teachers around the state feel about having the sympathy of someone capable of doing this?

2.) Nails and punctures instead of substantive counter arguments - this is also confirmation that the arguments of Justin and Mr. Botts are correct.

Posted by: Monique at February 21, 2009 7:04 PM

Now you see why, despite all the "yapping" there will be zero fire, teachers or cops laid off.
Get a surveillance camera.
Better yet get a 12 guage. If some dark clad unionist comes stalking on your property at nighttime with something in his hand looking like a dangerous weapon...

Posted by: Mike at February 21, 2009 7:25 PM

..acting within all applicable federal and state laws of course.

Posted by: Mike at February 21, 2009 9:34 PM

Like you, I work in construction and am prone to the occasional flat from roofing nails and drywall screws. I would not attribute that unfortunate event to anything other than professional misfortune and certainly not to anything I might have done in my other career.

Posted by: jay at February 22, 2009 8:36 AM

Not a well thought out strategy. This method of retribution may result in harming unintended targets like postal workers (that in and of itself could prove dangerous), probation officers, girl scouts...no strike that,...

Posted by: Phil at February 22, 2009 2:27 PM
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