Wednesday, May 18, 2005


I am an oversensitive doormat. I was raised to be the latter, the former is just an unhappy byproduct. There. I've said it. Hope you don't mind.
I was pressed for time this morning, and as I reached an intersection to make a right turn, I observed a woman crossing the street in my direction, requiring me to wait for her.
Now, this woman, probably a few years older than I, was clad in running gear, and yet here she was, walking across the street; I became instantly outraged (internally, of course - no horn honking or gesticulating from me, no sir). Why wasn't she RUNNING? I was convinced that she was doing this on purpose, to make me wait because she could. Which brings me to my current state of contemplation about how we are the way we are.
If you know me, then it's very possible that you know my father. Our Father, who art in Temecula, is one of my heroes. The older I get, the smarter he is. He has become, and remains, a Great Man. I love him dearly. Having said that, he is also, by both nature and desire, one who turns the other cheek ad nauseum. As my dear Mother would attest, he has turned martyrdom into an art form. All other family secrets and confessions aside, it is alas a mode that I have probably embraced, embodied, and employed to my detriment, as well as, I'm told, the detriment of those around me. I order a hamburger at Burger King the way it comes - their way is fine with me. If I find a chicken sandwich in the wrapper, I'm apt to see it as an indication from the Almighty that I've been eating too much beef, lately; usually preferring to eat it rather than put everyone through the hassle of a "do-over." It's often hard for others to see the value; they think it's spinelessness on my part. I think Dad would agree with me that it's more about being at peace than being "right" - but then you have to have this perspective to begin with. Having children, of course, changed everything. The way we raise children today means constantly making adjustments - and I don't necessarily want my children to be the way I am - they need to make their way in a world much different than mine is. What I'm working my way around to is that how we're changing has been the result of an insidious process, and perhaps we need to think about being more accommodating, some times with each other, particularly strangers. Which brings me back to this morning's runner.
See, the thing is, if the situation had been reversed, I'm pretty sure that I would have run across the intersection, or at least trotted, or in some way indicated that yes, I am holding you up, but making some sort of token (if not real) effort to both recognize your presence and get out of your way. It's politeness, it's recognition of your value, it's a positive rather than a negative moment in a negative world. I remember feeling put-upon when being taught that a gentleman opened a door for those around you, Ladies first, of course, but I've noticed that some people do, some people don't. The ones that don't open a door for me instantly lose all credibility, as far as I'm concerned. I seem to be drifting off-topic. And yet not. It's turned into a mark of character, to some extent.
I made the offhand joke, the other day, that this was all Burger King's fault. "Have it Your Way" has become a mantra, an expectation that has turned sideways into selfishness, and then reversed itself upon us to the point where we have to choose where there were no choices, before. Please apply this concept. Discuss with your inner self. Failure to demand one's own way or show deference to another is now a sign of weakness.
So, I'm confident that I'm going to inherit the earth. Of course, the selfish and the slipshod will have pretty much soiled it beyond recognition by the time I get it, but I'll be happy. I'll be happier if those folk are all gone by then, off to a planet more suited to their tastes.