Monday, January 08, 2007

Decay Is Not OK

First off, let me apologize for not posting since last Thursday. I've been sick. All I've really felt like doing was sitting on the couch and watching TV. That's not to say that MG has let me get away with that, but the blog certainly has. I'm still sick, but getting better.

Now, straight to the heart of the matter.

There once was a thing known as 'Southern Hospitality'. I'm not sure it exists anymore, at least not in a general sense. Sure, there are local pockets of it here and there, but overall?

I notice the social decline a lot. As life has gotten more complicated in our increasingly busy world, hospitality and even decorum have gone right out of the nearest window. Fewer and fewer people smile and wave at their neighbors. For that matter, fewer and fewer people even know their neighbors. I grew up in a suburban development with about 50 to 60 houses. I think I knew most everyone, or at least knew who they were. I probably know less than 25% of the people in my current neighborhood. Nobody sits out on their porch here. Not many people even go for walks around the neighborhood here. I wave at people here who half-heartedly wave back, and some who don't wave back at all. I know who a lot of the kids are around here, but striking up a polite conversation is like pulling teeth ("yeah, like, whatever"). However, I am trying to do my part to set a good example for other people. Even things as simple as holding doors for people - am I naive to hope might be enough to get people to think about (not-so-common-anymore) courtesy?

But here's the thing that set me off today. I went to the Post Office on my way home from work. The parking lot is a one-way single lane with diagonal parking on both sides. I pulled into the parking lot behind another guy and noticed a car up ahead backing out of a spot on the right. It was about half-way out when we got into the lot, but the guy in front of me - and I'm not exagerating or embellishing at all here - sped up, laid on his horn, and swerved his car to squeeze between the car backing out (which wisely stopped) and the line of cars on the opposite side. I would guess that he was going about 25 to 30 miles per hour as he went by. Why did he do that? I dunno, but all he did was drive to the mailboxes at the end of the lot and put his letters in before leaving (I can't see how doing that thirty seconds later would have adversely affected his life). I had to wave the stopped car out, as she was visibly shaken and not going to take any chances, I guess.

I started thinking about it a little. What if she hadn't been able to stop? What if someone had walked out from between the parked cars on the other side? What if it had been a child? What would a reasonable person have done if they had been driving the offending car? What would Jesus do?

And I ask that last question for a very good reason. After all, it was written right there on the guy's bumper sticker.


Ed W said...

I wish I had an explanation for the decline in common civility and the coarsening of popular culture. There's no panacea that I can think of that would apply to the entire population.


On an individual basis, we can treat everyone we encounter as an old, cherished friend. Will Rogers said it well. "I never met a stranger."

Caffeinated Librarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caffeinated Librarian said...

[Man I hate it when I forget to proofread.]

I'm guilty of not always waving at my neighbors, but I certainly wave if someone waves at me. Sometimes, when I wave, I get nothing. Sometimes while passing someone on the street I smile at them and say "hi." Sometimes they return it and sometimes they don't.

Maybe they didn’t smile back because they just haven't had their coffee yet. (That would do it for me.)

Maybe they had a bad day?

Maybe they're pissed cause they accidentally put on brown socks with black shoes?

Maybe they are Ohio State fans?

Maybe they didn't get to go on their nightly ride because it was cold, they're recovering from a cold, it snowed and was boooochilly out?

Who knows. Point is, you can't let it bother you dude, 'cause there is nothing you can do about it. Keep smiling and're making the world a nicer place even if nobody notices (and chances are they do notice, they just don't tell you that they do).

As for the Jesus driver - I suspect, if this guy had caused a wreck, he would have gotten out and yelled at the poor lady in the other car. Because God forbid, it couldn't be his fault.