Friday, July 31, 2009

Guilty As Charged

My name is Christopher James and I have a problem: I have proven hypocritical (in more than just the usual ways) today. Let me tell the story from the beginning.

First of all, I criticize my generation a great deal. This is not because I think that I am better, but because I see the potential that we have, the advantages that we have been given, and the opportunities we waste on a daily basis. I often speak about this and about everyday occurrences that I think are indicative of some of the problems that we need to solve. One such occurrence is careless and inconsiderate driving (and the bigger issue of a lack of common courtesy), something that I think is indicative of the fact that we are only looking out for ourselves and our own interests - taking absolutely no interest whatsoever in what other people are doing, where they are going, or how we can make sure that we do not hinder or impede them. This is also clear on campus at USM when just walking around. Many students are trying to get to class and very few of them yield to anyone else. Many of us see people facing us, heading in our direction and walk straight toward them. Most seem to be thinking "the other person will move" or maybe, "the other person better move." Again, I think these things are indicative of bigger social issues. Many of us cannot see past our own motives and viewpoints to recognize that we are all similar people with similar goals - so we get in each other's way and refuse to move, making enemies out of those that we have enough in common with to make into friends. Don't think it's that serious? I'd argue that you're a part of the problem because it is that serious and we just don't realize it. Common courtesy and respect for others are essentials that we need in order to function properly because, as the saying goes, "no man is an island." Beyond that, the way that we treat each other when on our way to class or driving to our respective destinations translates into the way that we view each other in life. An example of that is murderous road rage - a mentality that says "I don't like the way you drive and think you are a nuisance, so I will kill you to rid myself of the irritation you cause" or, to put it simply, "you're in my way, so you have to die." So the way that we treat each other in certain situations is usually indicative of the way that we see each other in life.

What does that have to do with me?
Here goes:
I recently finished up working a dead-end summer job. Mind you, I do not refer to it as a dead end job because I am ungrateful for my employment. I simply recognize that there is no upward mobility at all, nor is there the potential for any. The work is simple and I make minimum wage working full-time, which is enough for me. Actually, I rather enjoy the job because it is a taste of exactly the kind of work I don't want to do for the rest of my life and provides an extra boost for this already driven young man to pursue his education, goals, and dreams with abandon.
I got my last paycheck today (yes, we have to actually pick them up, no direct deposit). I picked it up, and headed to the bank to deposit it. It was a pleasant drive, until I was almost at the bank. At that point, I came across a Mack truck carrying an oversized load right in front of me. It was going extra slow, and I was almost there. What did I do? You guessed it, I switched lanes, sped up, and cut the truck off to make my turn into the bank. The turn proved quite eventful being that I almost didn't give the truck enough time or room to stop, and actually had to coast down to the bank's second entrance to prevent being rear-ended by the monstrous vehicle behind me. The driver blew his horn, and in one instant it was over. I handled my business and came home, disappointed in my behavior. I talk about this all the time, yet I was the one guilty of it today. I was more concerned with what I had to do than with my fellow man (or the safety of either of us, for that matter). To make matters worse, I was almost at the bank when I saw the truck - which means all I had to do was proceed slowly behind the truck until I reached my destination, which only would've taken 10-20 seconds more. Instead, I put us both at risk. I know better. However, knowing without practicing doesn't do me nor anyone else any good. I have to do better as well. I could come up with all types of excuses for why I committed this ignorant and inconsiderate act.

  • It had taken me a little longer to get my check, being that the lady that usually handles payroll was not in her office.
  • I do not own a car of my own and drive sporadically, making me a little rusty in certain situations.
None of these matter because any and everyone else on the road has a million reasons why they could choose to be inconsiderate and selfish. So does anyone walking to class on campus. We're all in a hurry. Anyone, and that includes ME, who chooses to act discourteously is saying that what they have to do - or the reasons that they are in a hurry - are more important than the next person's. Again, it's a rather selfish thing to do. I was selfish and inconsiderate and made up my mind that my destination was more important than that of the driver of the Mack truck. I do not know the driver and cannot apologize to him personally, but I can and do apologize here on this blog. I know better and pledge to do better from now on - whether walking, driving, or simply living.

**I know that someone may read this and say something to the effect of, "this dude is way too dramatic." It's not like I plan on grounding myself or resorting to some other drastic means of self-punishment. I'm simply acknowledging a bad, yet willful decision (not a mistake, we use that word too much for things that we choose to do despite better judgement) that I made. This type of decision is one that I criticize so many people for making because I believe, as written above, that it has certain social implications. We all make bad decisions from time to time and have to learn and move on. I'm doing both, and I'm certainly going to go on with my day. I simply chose to share the lesson with any and all who actually read the musings presented here.**