That’s Not Why They Call It “Parx” Casino?
It’s been a record summer in more ways than one. In late August, Bensalem cops charged 34-year-old Paul Vargas with leaving his kids — ages seven and 12 — alone in his car while he popped in to play blackjack at Parx Casino. The arrest marked the sixth time this summer that parents have left their offfspring unattended in cars while they answered the siren call of one-armed bandits, cards and dice. (A grandpa got in on the game last Wednesday, abandoning his 12-year-old grandson in the same lot.) In Vargas’s case, he also left a pit-bull puppy, which I dearly hope pissed all over his Corinthian leather seats. [SIGNUP]
I know, I know; the Ricardo Montalban reference is sure to date me. But so, no doubt, will my bewilderment at what sort of father or mother — because it’s not just dads, as Sharon Balek, 35, can attest; she left her eight- and 15-year-old daughters in her car for six hours while she played the slots — would think that abandoning kids in a car in a parking lot during the hottest summer on record just to satisfy a gambling jones is, well, an okay thing to do. You don’t suppose, do you, that it’s the same parents who get all hot under the collar about Octomom, and Jon and Kate, and Michael Lohan — you know, those famously bad moms and dads? All I know is that Parx has got a whole new kind of parking problem on its hands.
But never fear. Big Brother’s coming to save us. USA Today has reported that what with 41 children having died nationwide after being left alone in automobiles this summer, the Consumer Federation of America, along with other “safety advocates,” is working to get Congress to force automakers to install systems that warn if a kid has been, um, left behind in a parked car — intentionally or unintentionally. “We have reminders in our cars for lights, keys, doors, tire pressure and fuel,” CFA spokesman Jack Gillis says. “Reminders regarding our most precious cargo are an absolute must.”
No, Jack. What’s an absolute must is that parents put away their goddamned iPhones and iPods and BlackBerries and craving for a game of craps and focus on that most precious cargo. What kind of people would consider it reasonable to require warning systems in cars to circumvent the need to check the freaking backseat for your own kid? Pity beleaguered Parx public safety director Fred Harran, who says, “Unfortunately, I’m not in charge of reproduction in the Delaware Valley.” Me neither, Fred. But sometimes, I’d like to be.