UPDATE 5/6: Wow. I just found out that some people in my HOA thought I was telling THEM THEY were behaving badly. I didn't mention the HOA, but they KNEW they had sent me a letter about the orange tree. And my self-accusation was implied, not directly made. If I had thought this would be a problem I would have modified the first paragraph as follows:
I have a tree in my yard that is little more than a stump. I've taken to decorating it. For example, I painted it white for Christmas. For her birthday, I thought I'd let my daughter choose a color, and she chose orange. Well, it turned out some people were not happy with my orange tree stump. I acted without thinking about my neigbhors.
That got me thinking about things other people do without any thought of others.
I may put that in my column next week. The last thing you want is an HOA board thinking you disrespect them.
The title chosen by the paper was "People Behaving Badly":
People behaving badly
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I have a tree in my yard that is little more than a stump. I've taken to decorating it. For example, I painted it white for Christmas. For her birthday, I thought I'd let my daughter choose a color, and she chose orange. Well, it turned out some people were not happy with my orange tree stump.
That got me thinking about things other people do without any thought of others. While some people are simply selfish, most don't mean to be; they just don't realize what they are doing. For example, nobody told me they didn't like my tree; I found out when the Homeowners Association sent me a nice letter asking me to make it disappear.
So, as a public service, I thought I'd write a column with a few examples of ways people act without regard to others. Hopefully it will make people think about things they do that are annoying or selfish.
Let's start with drivers who sit at green lights talking on their cell phones while holding up traffic. They always seem to look up and run through the light just as it turns red, leaving others to wait for the next light. If you honk, they make "friendly" hand gestures as they drive away.
The Manassas Area SoccerAssociation found that the children were scared by dogs running around the fields, barking, licking, peeing and pooping where they were trying to play. So they made a simple rule: no dogs at the games. But every Saturday, people still show up with dogs. "Oh, MY dog won't bark" they say, as their dog yaps away. Or they yell "don't worry, my dog loves kids," as a child runs screaming in fear. Why should they be deprived of their dog's company just so the kids playing soccer can feel safe?
MASA also has a very good rule about dropping kids off for games: don't stop on the entrance road and let your kids jump out into traffic while you block people trying to get in and out. But again, people ignore the rules. "I know we aren't allowed to stop, but my kid is late for the game," or "It's too far for my child to walk from the parking lot." Never mind that other parents and kids are stuck waiting to park.
Speaking of parking, what about people who think their cars are so special that they deserve TWO spaces? It's fine if they want to park in the far corner of the lot. But some people park as close as possible to the entrance and straddle the lines "so people don't bang my car doors." Or they park right in front of the movie rental store "because I'm just dropping my movie off." Of course they have to check if there are any good new movies to rent.
Here's some more: Bicyclists who think pedestrian paths are for racing and that yelling "on the left" makes it your fault if they run you over; parents who let their infants swim in the pool without proper protection because "they are well-controlled" and then get mad at the lifeguard when the pool is shut down for an hour while they disinfect the resulting mess; parents who don't trust their kids alone, so they send them to the library after school, expecting the librarians to watch them for free.
Our society would work a lot better if people didn't go through life assuming the world revolves around them. One or two inconsiderate rule-breakers are no big deal. But what if only one or two people followed the rules, while everybody else did whatever they wanted?
Obviously, none of this applies to the nice people that read my column. However, you all know someone like this. Rather than tell them, you can simply hand them this column. If that seems too obvious, say, "Can you believe what this guy wrote about people being selfish?" Though if you do say this, be sure to cut out this paragraph first.
And in case you are wondering, my tree is now a lovely shade of green. At least nobody's told me different.