I’ve long since given up on trying to figure out what makes people think it’s completely okay to toss an empty water bottle or a sandwich wrapper onto the verge. I’ve never even attempted trying to fathom how anyone could think it okay to dump a washing machine, or a fridge, or a wardrobe on the side of a country lane. And as for tossing a week’s worth of household trash in a ditch!!!! It’s beyond me.
I despair. I despair of people. But I also pick up after them, as if by being extra-considerate, I can compensate for their assinine behaviour. On a walk last weekend, as is my wont, I brought along my black bin bag to pick up rubbish casually tossed aside by others who had walked or cycled the path before me. Picking up after random strangers isn’t exactly my idea of a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but I was out walking anyway, and it added some purpose to my day. No, there’s no need to point it out. I, too, can feel the stirrings of my inner martyr. But at least when I climb up on my sanctimonious soapbox, my view of my surrounds will be litter free.
It comes down to personal responsibility and the wanton abdication thereof. That’s my theory. People no longer take responsibility for their actions and in equal measure are no longer held accountable for what they do. We look, we see, we choose to ignore. We look, we see, but we rarely (if ever) say – Hey! That’s not okay.
Queue jumping is a case in point. I’m guilty, too, of sitting back and marvelling at the brazenness of my fellow travellers, usually Hungarian women a little older then I am, on the Dublin-Budapest flight; I take a perverse delight in the dissenting murmurings of Irish passengers who look, see, and say nothing. And why don’t they? Because in the grand scheme of things, the plane won’t (usually) leave without us and if Néni really wants to get on the plane before me and is that desperate, then let her have at it. I don’t have the language skills to explain the meaning of consideration, but occasionally, I can work the look.
Today, when I noticed that at some point since I parked the car last week, someone driving a yellow car dented mine, I was pissed off. Big time. I’d woken to no water (which thankfully is now back), so I wasn’t the cleanest of mind or body. I’d have thought I’d have noticed it had been dented when I was packing the car to come down the village yesterday. Or after I’d stopped in for groceries. But it wasn’t until I got into it this morning that I spied the tell-tale yellow paint and the dent. I’m sure it was a taxi driver (or someone driving a taxi) because the paint isn’t paint; it’s that synthetic coating that all cars wanting to be taxis had to get a few years back. It’ll wash off. But the dent won’t.
Whoever did it had to have felt it. It’s a decent size. They could have left a note to fess up to doing it … but they didn’t. They drove away. Someone else might well have seen them do it. But if they did, they didn’t say anything either. Now, again, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just another nail in my people coffin. I’m not worried about the insurance claim – I’d just like some ownership of the damage. I’m not overly concerned about the aesthetics – Ime has racked up some miles and this is just the first wrinkle on an ageing body. But I am bothered by the anonymity.
And yes, perhaps they had their stereo up so loud they didn’t hear or feel anything. Or perhaps it was dark and they thought they’d hit something else. Or perhaps they shouldn’t have been driving in the first place… but, no, that takes me back to responsibility. Perhaps I’m being unfair. Perhaps I am.
And yes, I know it happens daily, if not hourly, in towns and cities all over the world. And yes, it could have been a million times worse; someone could have been hurt or killed. I know this. I accept this. But my ownerless dent still rankles. When my water came back on and I got to have my shower, I spent my three minutes wondering what our world would look like if we all took ownership of our actions rather than tried to get away with what we can get away with? But I can’t see anyone jumping that particular queue…