Sunday, December 30, 2007

Return to Wherever

I know it's the holiday season, and we're all supposed to be grateful and peaceful and love our fellow man, but man, my fellow man can be SO unlike me in my attempts to be grateful and peaceful and to lover his fellow man.

Case in point:
I was waiting in the car yesterday afternoon waiting for my wife and two adorable children to exit a local pizza parlor after attending their cousin's birthday party. While warming up the car, patiently waiting, listening to peaceful music on the car's stereo, I saw a thirty-something (about my age), frat-daddy-looking man (who looked like he got his money's worth on the pizza buffet) exit with his small son (about my son's age) exit with two elderly people (who appeared to be his parents.)

I took in their sentimental exchange as the grandparents got into their Honda Passport, buckle up, check all mirrors, then cautiously back out and leave their parking spot. "How nice," I thought. "A sweet little grandma and grandpa taking their son and grandson out for a nice meal, which was probably their treat." Having all four of my children's grandparents in the same town where I live, I know how important it is for little ones to know and spend with their parents' parents.

But then, the man and the little boy, after loading into their new Suburban, didn't leave right away. "Couldn't be car trouble. Indigestion?" But then, a woman came up to the vehicle pushing a basket from the Target store about 300 yards away. "Okay, she went shopping, probably, while the dad and son played games in the game room after pizza." My wife and I have actually done the exact same thing before. "He's not a single dad afterall! The little boy has a mommy who likes to dress up in expensive clothes and dis' him while he plays skee-ball."

What immediately entered my mind after figuring out the situation was: "What will they do with the basket when they're done?" Being a stickler for public order, following rules, and in my daily efforts (not just at Christmastime) to be grateful and peaceful and love my fellow man, I always go out of my way to do the right thing and to be kind to people. When I was in the same situation, I met my wife as she approached, loaded the contents of the basket into our car, then ran the basket back all the way to the nearest basket return, which was at least 200 yards away.

I realized after the fact that it would have been faster and easier to drive the car and meet my wife, closer to the store, but I didn't mind the exercise, or the good feeling I got by going out of my way to return the basket to the designated area. Well, my curiosity about the couple, who did not know I was watching them with judgmental eyes, quickly turned to ire as the man, after unloading the basket like a perfect gentleman, looked left, then right, then left again, and proceeded to park his basket at the entrance to the pizza parlor. As if the basket was used to haul excess dough around, the man showed no inhibitions it putting the basket in such an inappropriate location. I felt like jumping out and telling him that I'll get it for him, but not before I offered to help him buckle into his vehicle, close his door, and was his car.

My blood gets boiling easily enough when I see people lazily and inappropriately park a basket withing a much closer radius to a return carrel, but to see someone who obviously didn't mind his wife making the long trip but who didn't think of doing the same to save an employee who had to work over the holiday at a meager wage from having to shag it, well it was one of the most despicable displays of self-righteous, smugness that I have witnessed.

But why should something cause ME so much grief and anguish when it obviously meant nothing to them? Good question! But somehow I refuse to just accept such thoughtless and selfish acts as a sign of our changing times. If that's the case, things are changing for the worse. It's BECAUSE we have accepted such acts that they have become so commonplace. Be turning a blind eye to the degradation of morals, we guarantee that it will continue. We develop an aversion to things that use to be unacceptable or that used to shock us, whereby, it takes an increasingly extreme act to cause us to scoff.

Should I have jumped out and given him a piece of my mind? Would it have changed society's behavior? Would it have changed his behavior? Probably not. But in NOT confronting him, it might have just saved an altercation that could have ended in a no-win situation. The saddest part was that his 7-year-old-ish son watched the entire thing, and to be sure, is taking his cues from good ol' dad. I only wish my son had been in the car, because I believe he WOULD have hopped out and selflessly taken the basket back to the carrel with a smile on his face.

Man, I still have a lot to learn from that boy.


Dmac said...

This is one of my big pet peaves as
well. Ironically while visiting Italy four years ago, I loved using their coin hostage cart system. Each cart is chained to another cart and is released when the operator inserts a coin. When the operator returns the cart to any
cart corral and reinserts the key/chain from another cart, the coin box opens up. We found many industrious young people not employed by the store, offering to return your carts in lieu of retrieving your coin. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

It's a big pet peave for me as well. Maybe we should band together and do something about it!