1.24.2006

I Don’t Need Society

I probably could come up with a better title for this post, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to reference a DRI song.

I am pretty much a contrarian. If you tell me the sky is blue, I will argue that it’s not. If you tell me it’s not blue, I’ll argue that it is. So you’d think in a social setting I’d be Mr. Jerky Jerkface, but that’s not the case. See, I understand that, as George Costanza would say, “We’re living in a society!”. And since I understand that, I do not curse in public (private is an entirely different fucking matter), I hold doors open, I say please and thank you, I don’t send food back (unless it’s really “special”), I tip no matter what, and I try to crack a joke whenever possible. Basically, I overcompensate for the anti-social being I am by trying to be as polite as possible. Why? Because we’re living in a society.

So, it does sort of sadden me to watch as civility and empathy break down before my very eyes. Neither of these events is earth-shattering, but each made me cringe and wonder where the fuck we went wrong as a people.

Incident #1: Smart & Final

Okay, so I’m behind this middle-aged, upper middle class couple at the Smart & Final. Why would an upper middle class couple be shopping at Smart & Final, you ask? I have no idea, but they dropped a couple of hundred on some frou frou type shit. Okay, so they pay and leave. I step up to pay for my crap, and the woman comes back in, barges up to the cashier, and said something like, “I need to speak to your manager. A homeless man just begged me for change and he needs to be removed from your parking lot.” She calls a manager, he goes out there, I pay for my stuff and leave the store. As I’m walking towards my car, I see the manager walking the homeless guy to the edge of the parking lot. As I drive away, I see the homeless guy walking alone into the night. It was fucking heartbreaking. More than the fact that this guy had no money and no place to sleep, he had no one . What’s his story? Is he mentally ill? Where is his family? Has he been offered help? Has he refused help? However you look at it, it’s a sad situation.

Then I thought of the lady who complained and got angry. His struggling to survive was such an inconvenience in her life. Poor thing. Being asked for change. THE HORROR! I’m not saying I like being hit up for change by homeless people, but I say no (or, sometimes, yes), and guess what happens? They say God Bless and that’s the end of that. I’m sure it’s not great for business to have people begging for change, but is it really that big of a deal? Have we become so calloused that we can’t stand to have to interact with those who have nothing? I don’t care if it’s their own fault, mental illness, or just plain bad luck, show some fucking empathy.

Incident #2: Los Jarritos

Los Jarritos is a Mexican Restaurant here in Sacramento. You can eat like a king for under $5. For like $2.00 you can get a great burrito, and for $4 you can get a gut buster that even my fat ass has to make two meals out of. Their prices are so low, and the food is so good, that I often wonder how they stay in business. My last visit there, two things bothered me.

First, with your order, you get a free tray of chips. Cool. You simply help yourself to them. If you want more, there’s a jar to put a quarter in. They trust you to be honest. And most people are. I like that. You see where this is heading. At least three different people went back for more chips without paying. You are getting a ton of food at a great price and you can’t chip in a fucking quarter to help offset the cost? What the fuck is wrong with you people? Not you reading this, but the fuckheads in this story. You reading this, you are fantastic and honest and would never rip Los Jarritos off for a quarter. Nor would you make a scene when your $2.00 burrito isn’t as large as the $4 burrito. Yep that’s the other thing. This…..this…bitch (calm down, I was going to use the C word) starts yelling at the owner about how her burrito isn’t big enough. The burrito was plenty big, especially for $2.00. When the elderly owner of this mom and pop restaurant tried to make things right, she was met with, “just take the fucking thing and give me my money back.”

These may be two minor, isolated incidents in a wonderful, civil country. But I highly doubt it. I’m betting on things just going downhill, as the suburban rejects who beat a homeless man to death (they should get the death penalty, but they are white, so they won’t), and the scumbags who tried to kill someone at random, prove.

I knew I was cynical for a reason.
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