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Slow news day for Crosby and DMV

Commentary

August 18, 2013
By John Mehno (jmehnocolumn@gmail.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - Next? You can take a number, you can sign the sheet, you can even slip the person in charge some cash.

But Sidney Crosby is still going ahead of you at the Department of Motor Vehicles. We learned that last week from one of the most improbable front page stories, even in a sports-mad town.

Apparently Crosby showed up to renew his drivers license and someone in charge moved him to the front of the line. There's no evidence that Crosby requested or expected special treatment. Someone at the DMV later said it's policy to expedite celebrities.

We might all be created equal, but things don't stay that way. Some Steeler is getting a table at a packed restaurant while you wait. Some millionaire Pirate is having his dinner comped while you're hoping your Visa card isn't maxed out. And No. 87 is suddenly No. 1 in line at the DMV.

The DMV's reasoning is that the presence of a celebrity could cause chaos capable of disrupting normal business. It's hard to argue the point, and technology is to blame.

A generation ago, spotting a star athlete in an everyday setting would have made a good story for the dinner table or workplace break room. ("Hey, guess who I saw at the muffler shop?") These days, almost everyone is armed with a cell phone capable of taking and instantly transmitting photos.

Tweet or text that Crosby is at the DMV, and within minutes the place will be overrun with people bearing Sharpies and items to be autographed. Some people will want to take a photo with him. Someone is certain to ask him to leave a voice mail message for their cousin Anthony.

People live for the teams, so they feel liked they're entitled. They get bold. When the Pirates had a reunion of their 1979 team, one of the PNC Park ushers asked Grant Jackson if he was Bob Veale. When the answer was no, the usher demanded, "Well, who are you then?"

The smallest things can become big. There's a retired Giant Eagle employee who still delights in telling of a local anchorwoman's regular visits to the deli counter to buy the store's cheapest bologna.

The real question about the DMV policy is how they determine whether someone is big enough to skip the line. Would Brooks Orpik have gotten the Crosby treatment? Surely Troy Polamalu would be ushered to the head of the line, but would Antonio Brown even have a chance?

Clint Hurdle would undoubtedly find himself in a good place at the front of the line. Mike Tomlin would have to be there, just because the standard is the standard.

We live in a city where the celebrities are athletes and TV performers. In Los Angeles, you spot Brad and Angelina at a cafe; here it might be Chilly Billy filling up at GetGo.

So the DMV staff didn't have to ponder the decision to advance Crosby. Pardon the mixed metaphor, it was a slam dunk.

Probably some people were angry that their wait was extended, but look at it this way:

Maybe moving to the front of the line was Pennsylvania's way of compensating for the rotten treatment Crosby gets whenever he plays in Philadelphia.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

 
 

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