Service of the Rules Are Not For Me

November 23rd, 2015

Categories: Bicycles, Celebrity, Civility, Consideration, Rules, Safety, Time

 above the rules

Some are above the rules. To illustrate the point I’ve chosen a public figure who doesn’t flinch at keeping countless others waiting; bicyclists who ignore traffic rules potentially causing others harm and an actress who doesn’t care if she ruins an irreplaceable museum piece.

Tick Tock Not

Mayor Bill de BlasioMayor de Blasio, [photo, right], holds up the works because he can’t get places on time. His actions tell the public, “Tough; live with it.” He hadn’t held the title long when his reputation was forged: He doesn’t like early meetings and tends to be tardy at any time. Headlines still track his arrival often over the real news–why he went or spoke somewhere.

Talk about Traffic Rules

Last week, WOR 710 a.m. morning drive radio talk show hosts Len Berman and Todd Schnitt addressed the lawless bicycle situation in the city. Schnitt, who just moved his family to New York from Florida, said he’s teaching his children to look both ways before crossing a one-way traffic street so as not to get hit. Berman reported once being almost downed by a bike outside a sports arena.

bike against trafficEvery night as I wait for the light at 53rd Street and First Avenue, where the new bike lane I recently wrote about threatens, I must remind myself to look both up and downtown as bikes speed by both ways.

Too Beautiful to Follow Rules

And then there’s Elizabeth Hurley, a British actress, who sat on “the 16th century Great Bed of Ware,” at the Victoria & Albert Museum to snap a selfie, Henri Nuendorf wrote last month on Artnet News. “The actress reportedly triggered an alarm when she took a seat on the priceless 10-foot wide mattress to capture that perfect shot,” he wrote in “Liz Hurley Kicked Out of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum for Taking Illegal Selfie on Antique Bed.” 

Great Bed of Ware

Great Bed of Ware

“The resulting image, which Hurley shared with her 164,000 Instagram followers racked up over 3,000 likes in only five days.” He continued, “The V&A has a strict ‘no touching’ rule to preserve its historic exhibits. Touching introduces dirt and oil from the skin onto an object’s surface, which can attract dirt to linger and degrade old and fragile objects.” Her objective was to generate publicity at any cost. She did. There must be better ways to do this while not potentially ruining something irreplaceable.

I don’t have to ask one question–I know the answer: “because they can.” What does it take for others to insist on a change? Can you share other examples? Are there exceptions where rules of civility by public figures or of safety should be bent if not broken?

Exceptions to the rule

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14 Responses to “Service of the Rules Are Not For Me”

  1. Catherine, New Jersey Said:

    You see large and small examples of this kind of behavior every day. The people who are in group 5 to board an aircraft but jump into group 2 to see if they can sneak on early. The people who park in “no park” zones to run into a store. The people who jump the green-light change to make a left-hand turn across oncoming traffic because they can’t be bothered to wait to do it legally or who continue on through the light after it changes to red even though they were not in the intersection. And we’re all guilty. Who doesn’t jaywalk in NYC?

  2. ASK Said:

    At least the Brits had the gumption to toss Hurley out of the museum…

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Catherine from New Jersey,

    Spot-on examples. I admit to slipping through lights that are in the process of changing but usually in the relative middle of nowhere and to jaywalking in NYC.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good point and good for the V&A! I wonder if US museums would wink and be happy for the publicity. Hope not.

  5. hb Said:

    Despite American mythology to the contrary, no one was created equal to anybody else. Each of us is unique; therefore. there is a pecking order in nature and always will be.

    I have as little use as most of us for Mayor Bill de Blasio (born Warren Wilhelm, Jr.), but he is Mayor of New York and needs to move about to do his job. He should be allowed to turn the sirens on. After all, nobody complained when Pope Francis’s car went up Fifth Avenue, a one-way avenue, against the traffic. As to “Bill” being late, that’s fine by me. It will make him even more unpopular.

    However, that we should all be treated equally under the Law is another matter. Bicyclists and celebrities should be given the same punishment for their transgressions that we would receive for ours.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    All the more reason the Mayor shouldn’t be late–a bunch of blaring horns and flashing lights and his limo can move through traffic far better than most. Fine with me, too, that he has a limo. Someone at his level is told, “Best to leave now Mr. Mayor,” which should make him aware of time. And at his stage of life he should have a grasp in any case.

    For the President and the Pope, streets are cleared and precautions taken so nobody’s safety is compromised. Good examples of OK to break/bend the law.

    I still can’t understand why the city decided to give bicyclists first priority. They know it and feel above the law or maybe many of them don’t drive so that they don’t heed red lights and street directions.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Being on time is a virtue which not all of us follow with ease, and does not necessarily show lack of consideration. Those having anything to do with politicians, regardless of party, know that it’s a near miracle should a member of this breed appear within 15 minutes of the appointed hour. There’s always something which manages to derail the most carefully planned schedule. Over and above that, there are no “laws” or “rules” governing tardiness.

    Breaking existing laws regarding safety of life and/or priceless items shows anything ranging from sheer stupidity (as in airhead British actress) to criminal negligence, as in ignoring logical traffic laws. Many who see themselves as above the law are subjected to consequences. However, it’s impossible to “catch” everyone. That’s life.

    Idiot actress got off easy. Being thrown into jail and subjected to a huge fine would have been more appropriate. Let her make selfies from a prison cot…..

    PS It’s been fashionable to “blame the mayor” for all that goes wrong ever since I can remember, ranging from potholes to blatant corruption. Surely De Blasios foes can find a stronger complaint than late arrivals. If not, he’s in for an easy second term, regardless of bad publicity and today’s poor showing in the polls.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve lived in the city for years and have never heard one Mayor criticized for being late as it was the exception, as you note fully expected of a person with so much responsibility, not the rule. The only time Mayor Bloomberg was late to the party was when the poor man left the city just when we suffered one of the worst snowstorms in a while. He wasn’t expected to shovel one flake, yet he was supposed to handhold. Back to de B., you know the old saw about time and money. For someone in the business of running a city or a company to consistently waste other people’s time becomes costly as well as irritating. Clearly that isn’t the only thing he’s blamed for: His poll numbers have other tales to tell.

    I’m giggling at the vision of someone gorgeous taking a selfie from a prison cot. That, or being charged a few $100,000 to pay for textile restoration, might put a stop to such behavior. As for the bicycle riders who pay little heed to traffic laws, let one politician or city elder’s family member be struck and bingo: we’ll hear about bicycle licenses and moving violations for two wheelers.

  9. RCF Said:

    The thing we don’t know is whether the “pubic figures” who are late are late because they get hung up doing other things that pertain to their job. If people take responsibility for putting others out, then I think it is acceptable. If they just break in on an ongoing event as though nothing could have happened before they arrived, no. Of course, public figures need to be aware of safety, security and all that. I am sure the “handlers” of famous people are constantly trying to keep them in check, keep them safe, keep to whatever schedule has been established. As for famous people breaking the law “because they can,” they do not deserve their fame. Perhaps Infamous is better…It does trouble me that people with a lot of money seem to think that they can do anything because they can pay for whatever happens. Of course they cannot really pay for the soul-damage they do. Take the Koch brothers fighting alternate energy resources because it may diminish the need for fossil fuels. That is a most selfish and destructive action.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If a public figure holds up a funeral, or other such sensitive event, because they couldn’t pull themselves together, not great.

    Event organizers know to juggle when someone in such a position is scheduled to speak. Sometimes a high profile person suddenly arrives early and needs to be placed out of order as suddenly they learn they must leave at the time they were to speak. I got the impression that Mr. de B. had a hard time getting up in the morning, which made him late at the outset, unless this was rumor spread by people who didn’t like him–a possibility Lucrezia suggested in an earlier comment.

    Some very wealthy people don’t plan to pay for a thing–except for their lawyer’s fee to get out of paying anything should they cause harm. They work the loopholes. Their behavior shows that they’ve lost sight of reality, balance and empathy. Some think outrageous behavior is charming or cute. Fortunately, more refined, educated people don’t conduct themselves this way. I feel sorry for future generations if nothing is done to control the impact of people like the Koch bros.

  11. Sylvia W. from Baruch Said:

    Hey Jeanne,

    Haven’t been seeing you for a long time! How have you been? The issues you raised is worth discussing: whether the mayor or some other ordinary bicyclists should be given a priority to behave above law.

    The mayor’s case is a matter of self-discipline. It’s outrageous that he took advantage of siren because he is the mayor.

    However, I have a different view for the bicyclists. The basic reason is that they have less protection then the car drivers. Anyone who is using the road, like bicyclists, roller blade users, skateboarders and scooter users are not protected inside a vehicle. It would be tragic if they get hit by a motor vehicle. At this point, I could understand that how the law ranks the people: first, yield to pedestrians. Then, who else? These bicyclists, to a certain extent, are pedestrians with high-speed non-motor instruments.

    Let me know your thoughts too! Have a happy thanksgiving holiday!

    And I hope to see you soon!

    Best regards,

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hi Sylvia,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

    Here are my thoughts–I love compromise but see no gray area.

    New York is a city of pedestrians. Most people live several blocks from transportation and many chose to walk rather than ride anything. Often it’s faster. Out of towners who are used to walking a few steps from their homes to their cars, from the parking area to the grocery store or shopping center, and then back in their cars remark at how much more walking they do when visiting NYC.

    Yet pedestrians are not considered by the city with its bike lanes or by bicyclists. The latter don’t follow the law–they travel any which way at top speed; whip through lights and around corners. It is not their safety that I worry about–they don’t have to ride a bike–as much as that of innocent pedestrians who must get from place to place.

    A rogue bicyclist ran into me from behind on a sidewalk on 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue when I was a child walking with my father. It clearly made an impression. My father had a temper and I remember his angry voice as he addressed the bike rider who should not have been on the sidewalk and dusting myself off as I rose. It’s not fun being rammed into. Yesterday I was rushing home and I walked off the sidewalk where the new bike lane is forgetting to check in the opposite direction to see if a bicycle was coming. My heart sank for just a second. Worrying about something coming at me from the wrong direction should not be my concern.

    As for skateboards and scooters, they also have no business in city streets in my opinion. There are places in parks for them.

  13. Martha Takayama Said:

    Public figures are constantly breaking rules with more or less indulgence according to their perceived popularity or importance accorded them by the media. The best examples would include Donald Trump and Chris Christie. As for Mayor Di Blasio’s tardiness, it is inconsiderate and rude. It is rather callous because apparently he gives no thought tofthe chain of inconveniences or mishaps he may generate. If he doesn’t mend his ways, voters will eventually manifest how intolerable or not this behavior is.

    The profusion of bicycles is becoming an epidemic. Most highways and even suburban roads are not designed to accommodate further lanes of traffic. It is ludicrous to promote bicycling as an economic measure. There is financial opportunity for some in the clumsy racks of rental bikes cluttering urban areas. Modernised and punctual mass transportation is what should be given priority. Bikers more often than not simply ignore traffic rules endangering others and themselves. Unfortunately, at least in my city, the horrible, often fatal accidents involving bicycles and pedstrians, cars and trucks seem to make the point that this is too hazardous a program to promote or expand.

    I cannot think of any reason to indulge or excuse Elizabeth Hurley’s childish and thoughtless behaviour. It certainly deserved the reaction it brought on. Had she even asked permission, which would not have been granted, she would have done less damage to her public persona and the artwork.

    V.I.P.s including the Mayor, policemen, firemen, ambulances, et al should be allowed to violate regulations for their own safety and that of others. So many other situations are too varied to pass on categorically but good manners and consideration always make life better.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree with your assessments. I also agree that in emergencies, VIPs etc. should be able to violate rules but that citizens should not be allowed such liberties. If citizens don’t like or appreciate a rule, then they should urge their representatives and lawmakers to change them. It isn’t up to an individual to do as he/she pleases. Reminds me of something my mother said about picking flowers in a public garden–In addition to the usual admonition about taking what didn’t belong to me she observed that if everyone did there wouldn’t be any for others to enjoy. The same goes for the rules: If people don’t follow them when convenient, or because they think that they are silly, life, especially in cities, would grind to a halt.

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