Pondering a surprisingly weighty topic

Published 9:34 pm Sunday, March 3, 2024

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When it comes to the plethora of “days” to commemorate on social media, I always seem to be a day late and a dollar short.

I’ll pop open my feed at the end of a long day only to realize I’ve missed commemorating “National Dog Day” or “National Sons Day” or “National (insert anything you really like here) Day.”

It’s not that I don’t love my sons, or my dog … like most of you, I suppose, I just don’t think about proclaiming my appreciation for them on any given day.

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Our national calendars are filled with days, weeks and months dedicated to commemorating and raising awareness of people – President’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Grandparents’ Day – societal issues – Domestic Violence Awareness Month – and even medical issues – Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Heart Month. And for the most part, these designations are a combination of effective marketing efforts and legitimate subjects, from causes to celebrations.

In the media industry, we’re used to receiving information about “Severe Weather Preparedness Week” or “Wear Red Day,” so the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce release shouldn’t have been such a surprise.

But who knew we should celebrate an official “Weights and Measures Week”?

It’s March 1-7, in case you’re wondering, and according to the good folks at MDAC, the week is designated every year to commemorate President John Adams’ signing of the first United States weights and measures law on March 2, 1799.

According to Gene Robertson, the National Council of Weights and Measures Chairman and the Deputy Director of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s Bureau of Regulatory Services, the theme for this year’s commemoration is “Staying Relevant.”

“Few Americans realize how significant and necessary it is to have our inspectors doing what they do every day,” Robertson said in the release.

And what do they do every day?

In short, these folks work to protect consumers by ensuring transaction accuracy – for anything that involves weights and measures.

You’ve probably seen the stickers at the gas pump, where MDAC regulators consistently test to make sure volumes and flow rates are accurate, so consumers are charged fairly for the gas they pump.

But you may not think about all the other things we purchase by weight – like produce in a grocery store. Yep, those same regulators are responsible for making sure the scales are measuring fairly and accurately.

In fact, the National Council of Weights and Measures just completed a National Price Variation Survey in 28 states and 68 jurisdictions that involved hundreds of weights and measures officials across the country inspecting whether consumers are being charged the advertised price at retail. Picture it: officials with dozens of different weights testing the self-checkout scales and the locally owned or closest big box grocery retailer … all to make sure we’re charged accurately for that bunch of bananas.

“Many people don’t realize that when you buy a product sold by weight or quantity in the State of Mississippi, our department is involved in the product exchange, including the scales used by companies and consumers,” said Andy Gipson, Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. “Our Bureau of Regulatory Services ensures fairness and equity in the marketplace each day. So, next time you are checking out at the grocery story of buying fuel at the pump, look for the MDAC ‘seal of approval.’”

I’ll have to agree with Mr. Gipson; the work these good folks are doing isn’t something often considered by consumers. It’s just taken for granted. But they are literally working to keep us from coming up a dollar short – even if they can’t do anything about being a day late.

And for that, their work deserves recognition.

Stacy G. Graning is regional editor for The Democrat. Contact her at stacy.graning@natchezdemocrat.com.