21 June 2008

21June-Self-indulgent post on what's wrong with some people
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While this is only marginally restaurant, food, and or beverage related (in that it happened in Publix), it's irritating and illuminating and if one person reads this and sees a flicker of this in themselves and changes for the better then this digression would be worth it. And I'm aware of how many "ands" are in that sentence.

So I'm in line behind a family in the express lane. This seemingly textbook family consisted of a mother, father, a boy of about 8 and a girl of about 11. They'd gotten one of those hybrid buggy/stroller things and, as I stood behind the father, I observed him unload the buggy onto the conveyer belt and then nonchalantly push the buggy/stroller back out into the store, parallel to the sale shelf. I watched with furrowed brow and wondered if I should do or say something when his daughter asks him if they should take the cart back up to the front. The father tells her not to worry about it and not too much later an elderly employee finds and walks off with it.

Why? Oh, oh, why? Not only is there the issue of how he just jettisoned his cart but the more pressing and depressing issue is that of his poor daughter, a youth still absorbing and learning the finer points of morality and ethics, who seems to know the right thing to do but whose instincts are being smothered by a dense and selfish father.
I wonder, from time to time, about how a sense of entitlement seems to be spreading through the land. A tributary of this is the attitude of "not my problem." And that day in the grocery store it seems as though I saw how it could be planted and fostered. Here is this flower struggling to grow up right but the vine of her father's sense of "not my problem" is choking her and I'm so afraid that she'll grow up to be the kind of healthy, strong young woman striding carefree in her work-out clothes ahead of the elderly grocery employee pushing and unloading her groceries while she's on her cell phone.
Grocery stores, it seems, are a good place to observe the spectrum of humanity. I suppose the possession of a buggy is like a car: we feel as though we have a bit of our own property and, therefore, become more comfortable and let more of our personality show. This misconception of being separated from polite society is most easily seen in cars when a driver, despite being behind clear glass, feels isolated enough to pick their nose at a stop sign.
So it seems in grocery stores I see so many people walk by, and even over, dropped packages of fuselli, toppled display stands, and fallen oranges. Their reasoning, I can only guess, is that some one else will pick it up. Picking that up is not their job.

Now, if I saw somebody having a heart attack I wouldn't race over, crack their chest open, find the blocked artery and restore blood flow to the heart. Not my job. No reperfusion expert am I, but I sure as hell know how to pick up a display stand that's fallen over into the aisle. I can make things tidy and help fulfill the purpose of that display. I can save the person whose job it might be to right said stand the trouble with no more effort than what I would spend in picking up and deciding against buying that jar of Kalamata olives, since I just remembered I still have some left.
Why can we be so selfish? How can we so easily forget that the world consists of more than just ourselves and that the person whom we might inconvenience today may well have an opportunity to inconvenience us in the future? Trite as it may be, we're all in this together.

I'm no saint. I'll admit that to annotate your probably thinking it.
But I try to make the world a better place. At this point I must wonder if I'm really helping at all. Though I might pick up the Starbucks cup lolling on the curb a mere yard from a garbage can, return the buggy at the grocery store from its place of desertion in the middle of a handicap spot or whatever, I feel like I'm treating symptoms and not the actual problem. And I'm sure, in some ways of which I'm oblivious because I have some ugly, arrogant tendencies, I contribute to the problem.

I could have talked to this man at the Publix. I could've pointed out what a bad example he was being for his daughter. I could've gotten into a check-out aisle brawl and gone home with shredded tabloid in my hair and cut knuckles. I could've made a difference but I chose not to.

Not my job, I suppose.


I saw, and corrected, this at the Target on Garners Ferry
It could theoretically have drifted there, but I don't think it did.

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