This story about emergency brakes on subways from Dave Winer made me think of something that happened in grade seven.
Every morning on the public address system at Flamborough Centre Senior School they would announce student and teacher birthdays. To be announced, you either had to submit your own birthday, or somebody had to do it for you.
Don Searls sat at the back of Mrs. Keast’s class with Simon Coles and I. He was a tall kid, and looked a lot older than the rest of us. He might even have had a mustache.
Simon and I sensed a loophole in the morning birthday announcements: there didn’t appear to be any verification process in place to ensure that a birthday submitted by a third party was, in fact, the intended’s actual birthday.
So one fine morning Simon and I anonymously submitted a special “12th birthday” announcment for Don Searls. Now at the time, Don was probably 13 or 14, and this is an age where even being a year younger than everyone else was a social catostrophe. And it wasn’t even actually Don’s birthday.
The announcement got made, Simon and I shared a private laugh. Don Searls got angry, told the Vice-Principal it wasn’t his birthday. And from the next morning onwards, there were no more morning birthday announcments at Flamborough Centre Senior School.
Simon and I pulled the brake on the subway. The school shut down the subway in response.