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When I read the tantalizing headline in Wednesday’s Globe — “Popped balloon cleared Fla. mall” — I imagined that a hot air balloon carrying one or more passengers had sprung a leak over a mall but had managed to get past it before falling to the ground. The brief article informed me that I had missed by a mile: The balloon was a child’s toy that had been popped to free it from a tangle with a janitor’s pushcart, causing mallgoers to mistake the sound for gunfire and flee the area. Their first impression was wrong, as was mine. It’s always wise to look further, though in light of recent history, no one can blame those shoppers for running before asking questions.

Jan Schreiber

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