This afternoon, I went to the post office to pick up a box of books that had been delivered to my P.O. box. After loading the books into the trunk of the car, as I was catching my breath in the parking lot, I noticed a large, black SUV with tinted windows nearby. It was parked in one of two driving lanes that provide access to the post office.
I was vaguely annoyed, because the vehicle interfered with two-way traffic in front of the post office, as did two other cars parked on the opposite side of the road. That left a single, jagged lane; moving cars had to slalom around the parked cars in order to drive through.
Now, I was parked in one of three handicapped sites near the post office, and other cars occupied the two other slots. So I thought perhaps the person in the SUV might be handicapped.
Just then, a man with a cane emerged from the post office and walked unsteadily and carefully toward the SUV. Thinking he might be its passenger, my annoyance lifted, briefly. But no, he had to maneuver around that SUV to get into his car, which displayed a veteran’s license plate and was parked in one of the other handicapped slots.
Soon, a youngish woman emerged from the post office carrying a piece of cardboard of the sort that can be folded into a shipping box. She bounced across the single open lane and opened the passenger door of the parked SUV. She swung her body into the passenger seat with little trouble, and the car drove away.
That whole scene felt really off.
My first thought was, She’s not even willing to walk fifty steps from a normal parking space to her destination and back. AND, she has no concern for the inconvenience of others.
As my mind roiled indignantly, I thought this might be worth a blog post–about selfishness in the commons, the public spaces we all share–roads, parking lots, public buildings, and parks.
Has this type of selfish obliviousness increased since Trump has been in the White House?
Maybe not. I remember many times during previous administrations when thoughtless drivers have parked in places that caused inconvenience to others. But it now seems more blatant, more in-your-face, more contemptuous of others–beyond mere thoughtlessness.
Why does this behavior annoy me so? It seems to display a sense of privilege in the perpetrator as well as a callous obliviousness to others. Such behavior signals a breakdown in the mutual consideration and respect essential to a functioning democracy.
Certainly, this type of behavior is typical of an aristocracy or an oligarchy, where the privileged few ignore the well-being of the much-less-privileged many.
Is that what we’re coming to? In the United States of America? The original bastion of democracy? Here? Now? The wealth disparity increases as the wealthiest have grown wealthier and the middle class and poor have stagnated or become poorer.
Are those the folks who support our current oligarch-in-chief and his minions? The ones who want to dismantle assistance and protection for compatriots with little or no power and privilege?
It is heartbreaking to see the fabric of our culture fraying at the edges. Perhaps it began with shipping manufacturing overseas, using cheap foreign (or slave) labor to further enrich the wealthy of this country.
So many don’t notice what’s happening. Or they don’t care. Like the lady in the black SUV.
Why did it annoy me so much that the lazy, thoughtless person in this scenario was a woman?
Happy Independence Day!