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Social Responsibility

October 27, 2011

or, What Would You Do?

Most people simply don't give a shit.

Yesterday evening, my wife and I were leaving the kids’ swimming lessons. The pool is located at Forest Heights, where there is also a high school and public library. It was about 7:45pm, so it was dark. There had been a light rain in the air all evening, so the ground was wet and water was pooling in the parking lot. At this time, a lot of lessons are ending, and a public swim is getting ready to start.


We had just gotten into the car, when the following happened; a line of three cars had just come into the parking lot off of the main road (Fischer-Hallman). The lead car was heading for parking for the library/pool. The driver of the second car didn’t seem to feel that the lead car was driving quickly enough in the parking lot, and abruptly passed around the lead car on the lead car’s passenger side. This second car then hung a hard left, passed in front of the lead car (cutting it off), nearly scraped the front bumper of my car (we were still parked and not yet moving, though the car was running and my headlights were on), and then drove far too quickly across the lot toward the high school.
What would you do?
I grumbled under my breath and pulled out of my parking spot and followed this moron. They dropped someone off at the high school and were already waiting to turn left out of the lot, back on to Fischer-Hallman. I got the license plate number, though my original plan was, as the driver sat there waiting to turn, to get out of my car and have words with this maniac. Bless her soul, Melodie asked me to leave it alone. I watched this ass cut someone else off as they drove out on to Fischer-Hallman and eventually turn right on to Queen’s Boulevard.
Later on, Melodie and I got talking about our social responsibility in doing something in situations like that. She reminded me of the father who was beat up by teens in a Cambridge parking lot when he asked them to not stand in the middle of the road so he could drive past. The man had his two young kids in the car, and they watched him get beaten. Nobody did anything (someone eventually called 9-1-1). A few weeks ago, I snapped at some teens on my own street who would not get out of the way of traffic, only stood there slack-jawed, practicing on their skateboards, while cars waited for them to decide to move. I didn’t get hauled out of my car and beaten up, though I was expecting vandalism at my house that night. That didn’t happen, either.
Last year, I watched someone pull into a handicapped parking spot. This middle-aged businessman gets out of his Lexus, and I said to him “Excuse me, that’s a handicapped parking spot, and I don’t see a sticker on your car.” He ignored me, walked around to the front passenger door and helped a slow, elderly woman out. He looked at me and snarled “Is _this_ handicapped enough for you?” My response was “I’m sorry, but you know a lot of people park in those spots who shouldn’t. Would you have liked one of those people in that spot now, when you needed it?” I was ignored and they walked off.
It’s a conundrum. Do you step up and say or do something? These days, anybody could have a pistol or knife in their jeans (yes, even in Canada). Do you give into that fear and just let things slide? Do you contact the police with the knowledge that they’re so busy with other things that a bad driver in a parking lot (license plate numbers not withstanding) is going to be ignored?
I want to set a good example for my children, however how is that done? By confronting wrongdoers, knowing full well there’s a possibility of violence (or, at least, colourful language)? By saying to your children “What they’re doing is wrong, and some day they’re going to hurt themselves or someone else. Don’t do that.”

From → Ramblings

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