Platitude Attitude

One thing that I didn't share in my last post about the sinkhole on our street, and the car that fell into it, was that a few days prior Jason and I had been walking home and I noticed that the traffic barricade that the streets department had delivered to block people from parking over the hole had been moved down the street. "I'm going to go get that barricade and move it back over the hole," I said. "Seriously?" Jason said, a pleading look of desperation on his face because he knew this would mean his having to wait in the cold holding open the gate while I plodded up the block in my snow boots, wrenched the barricade out of the snow, and carried it back to where it belonged. (And probably preventing him from a future heroic moment of saving a motorist in distress.)"Yes!" I replied. "Seriously?" again he lamented. I looked down the street at the barricade, looked at Jason again, and said, "Ok, fine. Let's go inside."
Jason admitted that he knew the first thing that went through my mind when the car went into the sinkhole the other night was, "See, I was right. You should have let me put the barricade up! I could have saved that woman." Indeed, I told myself, "Bad things happen when good people do nothing." Or as Edmund Burke more eloquently put it, "The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing." A website I referenced went further, "Perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, victims: we can be clear about three of these categories. The bystander, however, is the fulcrum."

With a renewed missionary zeal I have kept a vigilant eye on the sinkhole and people's parking habits since. If the warning sign falls down, I go pick it up. The other night I saw two people move it and start to park their car. Since there was so much snow, they probably didn't see how bad the hole was; I opened the window and offered my advice, "Hey guys, be careful, there's a big hole in the street there." They half-heartedly thanked me for the heads up but parked anyway, tossing my little barricade to the sidewalk. And probably thinking "Jeez woman, it's cold out here and this is the only place to park. Leave us alone, you busy body." Since then about three other cars have come and gone. I put a friendly note on one windshield, pointing out the hole, and asking them to put the barrier back up when they left. (No surprise, they didn't.) This morning a new car sits in the spot, its rear tire precariously perched on the edge of the sinkhole. My new platitude and attitude is that you can't save people from themselves. It's snowing again and I'd rather stay inside then tell my fellow citizens where they can and can't park. The hole is full of snow anyway so maybe it'll be all right. How quickly I have become disillusioned. I pessimistically wonder if now that I've blogged this I'll be liable for anyone else who falls in. Rats.
And if this loss of innocence wasn't bad enough, last Saturday we saw Santa had thrown away his cheery red outfit leaving it cast on the roadside like a empty potato chip bag. Actually, when looking at the photo more closely, it looks like it might be Santa himself. (There's a face peeking out.) Good grief, Santa died in our neighborhood and we gawked at his crumpled body and then continued on to catch our train. We are the worst kind of bystanders. Sorry kids, no Christmas this year.


Aaron said...

(said in the voice of a devilish representative): If I happened upon an open spot on a snowy street and saw some form of marker or barrier blocking this spot I would think this was an attempt by a resident to secure themselves a good spot. I may cite examples in philadelphia and boston where the good (and bad) citizens will place chairs, tables and even toilets in spots to claim them. As a representative for the devil may i suggest that Jason does not help people get out of the hole without demanding payment OR may I suggest he stands there and laughs.


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