Sauce For The Goose

Was it always thus?  Were people always so thoughtless and selfish?  I suppose at any point in history, a certain percentage were.  The problem is worsened in cities.  The bigger the city, the more people there are to share things – land, air, open skies, personal space and the respect and acceptance of others.  With a lower average being spread around, the likelihood is increased of some assholery being committed by unthinking, uncaring thugs, to get what they think their share should be, fair or otherwise.

It’s difficult some times to know whether they really are as stupid and uncaring as they sound, or whether it’s a persona they’re using to achieve their ends.  For years, those of us with lungs, who want to keep them, have been fighting to get smokers to stop dispensing their noxious gases in public.  Locally, it’s illegal to smoke inside any public building.  This just moves the problem.  Now they smoke outside the buildings, and you get to run a toxic gauntlet, trying to get a passport, or making a bank deposit.  *You can’t make me stop.  I have a right to smoke.*  No, you don’t!  Their sense of entitlement vs. my right to breathe and enjoy clean air is truly awe-inspiring

I wanted to take the wife to Wendy’s for lunch one day.  We climbed out of the car and faced the door.  The female manager and a male friend were standing right beside the entrance, smoking.  We stood beside the car for about a minute, thinking they might take the hint and move.  No such luck.  Finally, she noticed us staring at her, and petulantly demanded, “What?!”  We’d like to enter your facility to have lunch, but can’t because you’re blocking the door by smoking.  You’re supposed to move away.  “Well, I thought it was nine feet.”

You’re the manager of a restaurant, and you don’t know what the bylaw is?  It’s not nine feet.  It’s nine meters!  That’s thirty feet!  Even if it were nine feet, you were only five or six feet from the door.  See the orange paint that head office had applied to the curb, by the door.  You’re supposed to be outside that, and downwind if you don’t mind.  I should have filled in one of the How Did We Do Today forms inside, but she’d probably just have thrown it away.  Maybe next time I’ll complain on-line.

On a related note….fire pits.  The city is in the middle of a minor crisis about whether to continue to allow residents to have outdoor fires.  This is like smoking.  Your rights stop at the end of my nose – or should.  Older residents, parents with young children and people with breathing problems have lobbied to have the city declare them illegal.  The caring response evident in several letters to the editor have been, “Tough!  If you don’t like it, close your windows!”  A letter today tried to justify it by saying that his kids want to enjoy themselves roasting marshmallows and hotdogs.  “Let them have a bit of summer fun.”  I will, as soon as I can breathe.  One letter suggested speaking nicely to your offending neighbor, and they would just stop.  Yeah, sure, I’ll get right on that.

Whatever the perk, there are those who seize it, and then try to prevent others from enjoying the same.  We moved to the other side of the city 23 years ago, because a developer had cut down half of a huge maple forest and erected hundreds of houses near the river.  As we were leaving the area, the developer wanted to cut down the other half of the bush and put up more homes.  You should have heard the squeals of anguish.  The ones who had taken advantage of the first forestry project now wanted the rest of the trees left, because the scenery was nice, and their kids could play there and run the dog.  Many of them were suddenly against Urban Sprawl.

After the forest was inevitably cut down, houses were built right across the river from the local airport.  Real Estate agents were legally required to inform potential buyers of its existence.  Nobody was *surprised*, except officials who now got demands from these home-owners that the airport be restricted, or shut down, or moved.  The airplanes were keeping the baby awake, or scaring the cat.  The guy I wanted to schmop with a soggy diaper, was the one whose house had been built thirty years ago, half a block from the expressway, but three miles from the airport.  He didn’t complain about traffic noise, but wanted the city to pay him to sound-insulate his house from airplane noise.

A drunken young female exited a downtown club and wandered across the street, where she was brushed by a passing car and knocked down.  She was totally, legally in the wrong, but guess whose insurance had to pay, and whose premiums went up.  A 19 year-old male rode his bicycle through a crosswalk, against the traffic flow, and was struck by a car making a turn.  It’s illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, and it’s illegal to ride a bicycle through a crosswalk, and he just found out why, but pedestrians and bicyclists don’t carry insurance.

I think the next park festival we hold should be a Bring-In-Your-Ego Fair.  There’ll be some whose egos are so big, they can’t drag them in.  For the rest, it could be like a children’s face-painting booth.  On this one, we could brush some care and consideration for others.  On that big bloated ego we could paint some vertical stripes, so it doesn’t look so huge.  Think it’ll work?  Nah!  Me neither.

6 thoughts on “Sauce For The Goose

  1. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Uh-oh…I’ll confess…I’m a smoker and I own a fire-pit. I swear, I really don’t smoke in public (I don’t even smoke in my car)….my husband is a non-smoker who feels exactly the same way you do! And I love my fire-pit, Archon! I don’t burn trash or leaves in it (that’s illegal) but I like a nice wood fire….(I hope you still like me) 🙂


  2. Archon's Den says:

    Aww, I still like you….because you sound like a responsible, caring person. Don’t smoke in public, don’t burn trash. My parent used to have a fire pit, and we all just loved it, but the lots were huge and the smoke wasn’t blowing in the neighbor’s windows. It always comes back to Thinking about others. I know how strong the urge to smoke can be but, right at the doorway, where everybody has to pass by??! And it astounds me that they get testy if you ask them to move.


  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    In our small town (ca. 50,000), it is illegal to burn leaves in the city limits. Abutting our burg there are several small “villages” in which it is legal. Past attempts to integrate these into Joplin have met with almost violent resistance, the leaf-burning thing being about the only reason given, other than “maintain our independence”, a euphemism for the same thing so far as I can tell. Doesn’t matter that they would then get better fire and police protection, sewer service, city water and professional management, nobody by god better tell them they can’t burn a pile of leaves!

    Tribal behavior is predictable even though it defies logic, IMHO.


    • Archon's Den says:

      It’s interesting what people consider a “small town”. I regarded my hometown of 2000 to be a large town. My brother moved out because it grew too large and moved to a “small town” of 600. I consider 50K to be a good-sized city.
      Tribal behavior isn’t the anly thing that defies logic. The genius across the street in said hometown had a wooden power-pole on his boulevard replaced because it was drying and deteriorating. Works Dept. put in a new one soaked in creosote to prevent damage. First autumn, he raked all the leaves off his property, piled them 6 feet high around the post, and set them on fire. I grabbed his hose and applied liberally before he blacked out the neighborhood, including the hospital across the street.


  4. Sightsnbytes says:

    my ‘bright’ neighbors thought it a great idea to erect a firepit in their yard, in the trees. Every time they light the thing, I am standing at my door with my cordless phone, ready to hit the Fire dept on speed dial. some people shouldn’t be allowed to own matches


  5. Nicole says:

    We have no burn days here, which in the winter times is pretty much every other day. It does get down to the 30’s at night by December/January, but really I don’t see the need for fireplaces in my region of the world, yet you’d be surprised how many houses in the Phoenix area come equipped with fireplaces – even newer houses.

    As for the smoking Wendy’s manager – a slide in courtesy for potential customers is something I’ve noticed more recently. Occasionally when I am shopping at a department store, I can openly hear the store workers either complaining about their job, customers or just cussing to themselves.

    I don’t notice this every time I go to a store, but it’s happened frequently enough to notice. It makes me feel like I’m imposing myself on the staff at these stores by *gasp* trying to shop. I’ve never complained to a manager about this – I usually just leave the store and don’t return for a good while or I go to a different location. I’ve seen this happen at discount department stores all the way up to mall department stores.


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