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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane

If you saw what looked like an insect on your television screen, what weapon would you reach for? A wad of tissues, perhaps? Okay, let's make the bug more menacing than your average house invader -- let's make it a cockroach.

I'm guessing you'd grab a sacrificial magazine, roll it up, and take a swing at the screen. A swing strong enough to demolish the roach (you hope), while leaving your TV set more or less intact.

I'm also guessing you'd avoid guaranteed glass shatterers like hammers, drills, and chain saws. And up till this very moment, I would have sworn that a motorcycle helmet would sit atop the no-no list. Apparently, I was wrong.

A Tampa, Florida woman actually threw a motorcycle helmet at a TV screen roach. Overkill? I'd say so. Especially when you consider that:
1. The helmet trashed her screen; and
2. Her TV screen was cockroach-free.

No, I'm not talking about an LSD-crazed youth doing battle with hallucinated insects. I'm talking about a grown and presumably sober person who (along with other TV viewers) was suckered by Orkin Pest Control's all too realistic ad featuring an animated roach crawling across the screen

Like many others who were taken in by Orkin's ad campaign, this Tampa woman was determined to kill the roach. Unfortunately, the only thing she managed to kill was her television set.

End of story? Of course not. This happened in the USA where people, including our helmet-wielding woman, want to be compensated for their injuries.

Now I'm a recovering lawyer and I used to handle my share of civil ... and uncivil ... litigation. So you might ask me what I'd do if I were consulted by the owner of a TV set destroyed by a motorcycle helmet aimed at a nonexistent roach.

Being a cautious and thorough attorney, I'd carefully evaluate the case by asking questions like:
1. Your one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable helmet was badly dented, right?
2. Have you had full body x-rays to check for internal TV screen glass shards?
3. How's the helmet flinging-induced carpal tunnel syndrome progressing?
4. Why aren't you seeking treatment for your extremely painful ducking to avoid glass-induced whiplash?

Orkin doesn't appear to be worried about litigation. In fact, Orkin's treating the whole matter with a sense of humor. It even ran an Orkin "Got Me" drawing at its ( Web site, asking viewers to describe (by April 30th) how its "fake out" cockroach crawling across the screen ad campaign "got" them. According to the submission information, "ALL ENTRANTS will be placed in a random drawing for a BRAND NEW TELEVISION."

I was planning to email an entry myself, but I had a bit of a mishap: The roach that adorns Orkin's submit button looked so real, I threw my shoe at it and broke my computer screen.

© 2000 Madeleine Begun Kane. All Rights Reserved.

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