Seattle likes to think of itself as a tolerant city, a place where different people can come and feel welcome. That’s mostly true, unless you’re a drone.
Last week Mayor McGinn shut down the Seattle Police Department’s drone program, even going so far as removing the batteries himself and taping down the mini helicopter blades. The drones will be wrapped in cellophane and sent back to the vendor. Any drone caught flying over Seattle airspace is to be shot down on sight. That also applies to kites with cameras on them.
The program was controversial at the outset, when police snuck the drones by mule into headquarters without informing the public. Now granted, the police should have asked us before buying the drones, but come on Seattle, you totally would have said no, or at the very least, “Ask your mother.” Whenever the police tried to present the drones to the public, there was a whole mess of yelling in which people screamed about fascism and Nazis and other things that sound scary but do not at all apply to the situation. It was a rough time for the drones. Any performer will tell you that sometimes there’s just nothing you can do with a bad crowd.
Critics say McGinn shut down the program due to concerns over privacy, but I’m pretty sure the drones captured some unflattering shots of him. What do they have on you, McGinn? What don’t you want us to see? Is there a video out there of you driving a car or beating up a bicycle? Set it free, McGinn, because you can shut down the program, you can send those drones back to the vendors, but the truth will come out, on YouTube, probably.
Dammit Seattle, you don’t even know what you had. These drones weren’t out to get us and they may have played a huge role in the city. Think of the tourists who would have always had someone to take a picture of them in front of the Space Needle. Think of the criminals who may have stared at the silhouette of a drone in the clouds and felt true fear in their heart. Think of all those blind dates that would have been a little safer because a drone was chaperoning. It could have been a paradise on earth, where the gentle whir of the blades was not something to fear, but a pleasant, reassuring sound that let you know everything was going to be okay.
Did you even think for one second about the guy who’s been training the drones? He probably developed an emotional attachment and gave the drones names, like Glide and Blacky. Then one day last week, as he was polishing the drones and whispering sweet nothings, the lieutenant came in to break the news.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “we have to send them back to the vendor.”
“You can’t do this,” said the trainer. “People don’t understand these drones like I do. I can’t just put them in a box for some stranger. Who will take care of them? Could you put your children in a box and just send them away? Don’t walk away from me! We’re still discussing this! I’ll smash these drones before I give them up. Are you still there? Hello?” It was just like the ending of “Toy Story 3,” but with drones. With drones!
Of course, there were some problems with the safety arguments made by the police. It was suggested the drones would be ideal for emergency situations, like hostage taking, search-and-rescue operations and bomb threats. Let’s examine each one.
In a hostage situation, the drone would try to help and just end up being another hostage, worth far more (in dollars) than the human hostage. The search-and-rescue example is a moot point, because the battery life is only ten minutes. You can’t even find a cat in ten minutes. Bomb threats? Please. You think a drone knows which wire to cut? (The blue one.) You think a drone can passionately yell for everyone to get out like they do in the movies? Besides, the bomb is always in the unplugged vending machine that’s still lit up. Everyone knows that. (Man, I just totally knocked those out.)
I’m sorry to see you go, drones. It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, never knowing who to fly to, when the controversy set in. And I would have liked to have known you, but people kept yelling. Your batteries were removed long before, your legend ever will. Da da da, da da, da da, da da da da.
Oh man! Since we’re returning the two drones to the vendor, I assume we’ll be getting our money back. That’s $41,000 per drone! You know what we should spend that money on? Drones! No wait, I mean candy or poverty or something.