FW: Fw: Fw: Fw: Christmas Carol Terrorism?

Brian Vita brian_vita@cssinc.com
Wed Dec 10 16:36:57 EST 2003

Reply to Atty Ross' inquiry as to why the system could not be simply

Brian T. Vita, President
Cinema Service & Supply, Inc.
77 Walnut St. - Ste 4
Peabody, MA  01960-5691 USA
+1-978-538-7575 voice
+1-978-538-7550 fax

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Bilow [mailto:mike@bilow.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 12:16 PM
To: Brian Vita
Subject: Re: Fw: Fw: Fw: Christmas Carol Terrorism?

No, there was no way to turn it off.  The music system was inside a locked
cabinet that was bolted to the wall.  Think of one of those anti-tamper
covers that you see on thermostats, but bigger, and you get the idea.  The
metal was serious steel, like a school locker.

The unit was plugged into a standard wall outlet, but the cabinet was
installed in such a way as to cover the outlet as well.  (It is my
understanding that the fire code here actually encouraged such things.)  
Cutting the power at the circuit breakers was probably possible, but that
would have taken down other things in the kitchen that it was clearly
understood were never to be messed with, especially the time clock.

The speaker wires ran inside the wall as well, and they probably could have
been accessed without opening the cabinet from some other place such as in
the ceiling, but disabling the system that way would have been very time
consuming and would have required doing things in view of customers such as
getting up on a ladder in the dining area.

It is worth keeping in mind that this was a standard-issue Howard Johnson
restaurant.  The people working third shift in food service are often very
nice people, but they are usually not moonlighting master electricians.  
In other words, this was what would be considered a low-tech operation,
although I am not sure that term had been invented then.  For example, the
cash register had a time printer in it and could increment the date when
passing midnight, but the month had to be changed manually.  It was quite
common to see the register printing out things like "May 35" or "June 38"
because no one knew how to change the month and reset the day wheels.

So the first few months of post-Christmas caroling went by with little
notice, and it was probably March before the continued caroling ceased to be
an amusing curiosity and began to seem more annoying than in past years.  It
was then probably April or May before it was generally realized that this
was not just some bureaucratic mix-up, and that it was possible no one was
going to come to change the tape -- ever.  By June and July, it seemed
strange enough that customers were commenting on it.  I think it was the
customer comments that made the situation truly intolerable, as it is
possible to just get used to a thing like this unless people repeatedly call
it to your attention, and at that point it began to drive the staff mad.  It
also did not help that every one of the dozen customers on each shift who
said it thought that it was clever and original to joke about "Christmas in
July."  There were a few exploratory missions sticking things into the air
vents of the locked cabinet, but none of them really succeeded and it took a
few weeks until the staff finally resorted to recruiting someone with an
oxy-acetylene cutting torch.

While the torch was a relatively invasive procedure -- it destroyed the lock
-- it also solved the problem in mere seconds.

-- Mike

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