An uncharitable view of running against the law
For years, newspaper editors have been grappling with the problem of how to cover the exodus (and arrival) of cross-country trekkers.
Usually it’s for a cause, and it’s hard to look askance when an important charity stands to benefit from someone’s 5,800-kilometre adventure. You don’t have to be Terry Fox or Rick Hansen to merit at least a mention in the local media.
At one point, the idea was floated of simply listing the treks and causes in small print, as one would list sports scores:
J. Jones, bike, cancer
S. Smith, run, national unity
B. Brown, walk, comfortable shoes
But each adventure deserves at least to be judged on its own merit.
Then there’s Curtis Hargrove.
Hargrove, 23, of Cold Lake, left St. John’s on foot in May to raise funds for the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Helping out a hospital for sick kids is, of course, a no-brainer.
But Hargrove got a little more than he bargained for: getting arrested by the Sureté du Quebec.
Arresting someone on a charity drive seems a little extreme. But Hargrove clearly did not make things easy for himself.
“I said to him, ‘You can write me a ticket but as soon as you drive away I’m going to be running on this highway,”’ he told the Edmonton Examiner. “I said it as nice as possible — I said I have a goal to do, I have a mission, and I’m doing this. And then he said if you do that, I will arrest you. So I took off my vest, took off my iPod and just went with him.”
One has to wonder whether Hargrove lost sight of his goal at this point. Was he running for ailing children or was he launching an Occupy Highway movement?
The police told media that keeping countless runners and cyclists off the busy stretch of highway is simply a safety issue.
Hargrove reportedly sat at the police station for five hours, refusing to talk in order to “make a point,” in his words. Police finally convinced him to sign a contract promising to stay off the Trans-Canada.
They also mapped out a suitable parallel route.
The fallout of nationwide media coverage was mixed. In an ironic twist, the charity received a higher profile, with the possible result being a greater-than-expected sum at the end of the day.
But there are downsides.
Whether or not the Quebec police officer acted inappropriately, many of the comments left on media websites and on Hargrove’s Facebook page reeked of anti-Quebec bile. Hargrove condemned the sentiment, but as the saying goes, you reap what you sow.
Furthermore, it’s questionable whether every charity would want to gain notoriety in this fashion. A run-in with the law — particularly one that could have been prevented with a bit of compromise — is not usually an image that brings out the more charitable side of people.
Perhaps a little bit of flexibility and common sense — not to mention modesty — would have helped things go a little more smoothly.
From the St. John’s Telegram