Thursday, May 13, 2010

Entitlement or Simply Blind

The Chinese tell of a man of Peiping who dreamed of gold, much gold, his heart's desire. He rose one day and when the sun was high he dressed in his finest garments and went to the crowded market place. He stepped directly to the booth of a gold dealer, snatched a bag full of gold coins, and walked calmly away. The officials who arrested him were puzzled: "Why did you rob the gold dealer in broad daylight?" they asked. "And in the presence of so many people?"

"I did not see any people," the man replied. "I saw only gold." -- Louis Binstock

Do you ever think that this is a tale of the corporate world? I have been traveling daily back and forth from a center where businesses seem to have congregated and formed a little citadel of commerce. Everytime my vehicle gets close to the area, I feel like I have entered an 'entitlement' zone. As if rules that apply to the normal citizen no longer need to be heeded there. The first clue is the way people drive.

I've been driving for a number of years, okay a number of decades, and I can't recall (no it isn't Alzheimers) ever being cut off so often, people changing lanes willy nilly, someone speeding at twice the legal limit weaving in and out of traffic. Speed signs being used as 'only a suggestion.'

And never have I seen so many people stop at stoplights and then just sit there after it turned green. Of course they are chatting on cell phones or doing their makeup or eating their breakfast or reading the newspaper or texting someone, but you'd think they'd notice the traffic moving around them. Get into the parking lots and it is worse. Just trying to make a turn into a parking lot can be life threatening.

Yesterday I wheeled my husband's big green van into a wide turn in order to fit it into the handicap slot that has been assigned him by the front door. No one behind. No one in front. I began my turn and my husband yelled. A red car had turned off of the main road and at killer speed zipped right past me as I'm turning across her path. I slammed on the brakes. My husband was jettisoned out of his wheelchair and landed on his knees between the two front seats. As he knelt there he was the poster child for seat belts.

He had been preparing to get out of the van, who knew someone would feel the need to 'slip past' while I'm parking. We thought the risk was on the road to this little oasis. He was hurt and a bit humiliated and stunned as three volunteers maneuvered him back into his wheelchair. I was angry that such a 'me first' attitude, disregard for others, not to mention stupid unsafe behavior, had caused him such pain.

It seems like just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to entitlement based upon an overwhelming need to get ahead, get more money, get promoted, or simply get away with something.

I recently posted a little saying that seems to take on new meaning every time I venture out into the world.


I do so miss courtesy, consideration, love of fellow man.... Perhaps that is what was so poignant about the three men who came to rescue my husband. One was head of security, one was a dear friend, and one a stranger with a cast on his foot. They didn't hesitate to assess the situation, show a little sympathy, and then set to work to right the wrong. They all cared about giving comfort, making sure no one was harmed, wounded, or uncomfortable. All three wanted nothing more than to help. The help continued as we found a first aid kit and I bandaged the gash on my husband's leg. And people were considerate of him and his feelings, letting him regain his composure and get on with his day.
I still wonder about that woman who found her path so much more important that she put us all in harms way. She even had a choice to not come down that aisle. She could have seen us blocking her path and turned. Instead she made the choice to push her way through. Thoughtless? Clueless? Stupid? Unthinking? I don't know what to attribute her actions to. She may think nothing happened, no big deal. Maybe she went on with her day feeling entitled to what she had done. She got away with it. She wasn't held responsible. Forced to face the consequences of her actions....
But the action I took to avoid collision with her, since I was clearly the only one who could avoid the collision, caused me to harm my husband. Caused me to put on the brakes and throw him to the floor. Caused him to bleed.
I drive a big BIG green van and on the way home I envisioned that scene from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes where the Kathy Bates character rams the hell out of the two sweet young things in a VW with her bigger heavier car. All I could think was how satisfying it would be to be empowered and take matters into my own hands and stop following laws and being courteous and caring about others. It is such an inviting thought.
But then I realized -- I would be just like that woman in the red car. That is NOT someone I ever want to be.

For more about wheelchair safety visit and or go to my blog list and click on The Traveling Wheelchair blog and then scroll down to the appropriate story on his site.