Service of Because They Can Though Maybe They Shouldn’t

July 10th, 2017

Categories: Civility, Courtesy, Driving, Entitlements, Garbage, Politicians, Selfish

The world seems to be divided between those who do anything they want because they can and those who factor in others. Since I wrote, last week, about the executives who don’t blink at charging exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs my mind continues in that track.

The driver of a supersized SUV turning into 45th Street from First Avenue didn’t take his foot off the pedal for one second and almost ran me over. Why? Because he could—nobody stopped him and even if he’d hit me, he’d have been off and running for the same reason. The light was fully in my favor [as in the photo above] and I was crossing at just the right place [unusual for some New Yorkers].

The driver felt big, important and on a mission. I was an irritating pedestrian in his way, slowing progress. This scene happens countless times a day to thousands all over the city. Over the weekend we were in a cab that missed being slammed by a zigzagging driver who treated Lexington Avenue as though it was a super highway. Sometimes the threatening vehicles are bicycles driven by thoughtless, entitled individuals.

The SUV incident happened two days after NJ Governor Christie sunned himself on Island Beach State Park in front of the state-owned summer house [photo right]. This beach—and all state parks in the Garden State–were closed to other citizens June 30-July 3 because of the second government shutdown in that state’s history. Christie’s beach time wasn’t illegal—the house has access to the beach—though when he and the family were captured on camera by a news helicopter, it didn’t look good [no pun intended]. As Christie put it at a news conference in which he was criticized: “Run for governor, and you can have a residence there,” according to

He claimed that he’d promised his son that he would celebrate his birthday at the beach. But just because he could didn’t mean he should when his constituents had to cancel their picnic, swimming and sunning plans. “Do as I say, not as I do,” doesn’t set well with most. In fact, his selfishness may have ruined it for future governors. There’s talk about selling the house or renting it to generate income for the state.

For the most part, the people I know and work with are thoughtful, caring, empathetic, courteous and cordial—because they choose to be. The men at the transfer station in Millbrook, NY were so gentle and understanding when I showed up on a recent Saturday with a car filled with garbage, paper and bottles. I was wringing my hands because I didn’t have my ticket [the first time ever]. I felt overwhelmed by their kind, understanding response. “Not to worry,” they said, “We’ll get you next time,” and they grabbed for the bags and bottles and moved them to join like refuse in the three separate sections. Wet garbage costs $5/bag.

In your life, are there more SUV drivers and Christie-like characters or more people like the men at the transfer station?

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13 Responses to “Service of Because They Can Though Maybe They Shouldn’t”

  1. HB Said:

    This is one of those chicken and egg questions, a little like those “How do you get more out of workers, using a carrot or a stick?” questions.

    The answer, of course, is that it all depends upon where you are, when, and who you are with. I think an over-generalization may be, at least in the United States and from my white WASP perspective, that it was a kinder, gentler place to live before 1960 than it is now.

    The “Why?” will be found in history.

  2. Nancy Farrell Said:

    There are more people like the transfer station people and we ought to let them know we appreciate them. This lesson came up while I was on vacation recently. I was having dinner at a restaurant with my husband and my daughter. The man sitting at the next table was making a fuss. There were lots of complaints. He didn’t order the meal he received. Also, he likes scallops but not so many scallops. He repeated his concerns over and over and over again–to the waiter, to the manager, to his companion who had offered to switch meals with him. He declined her offer. The restaurant tried to make it right. I believe they brought him a different meal and comped something. Still he repeated over and over and over again that the waiter should memorize the menu, that he doesn’t like so many scallops, etc. The only time he seemed happy was when he recognized a group of people walking by the window and he proceeded to bang his fists on the glass to get their attention. They did not come in. As we were leaving the restaurant I asked my family to wait for me outside. I stopped by to see the manager and slipped her a tip to give to the server, a young man who was not even our waiter. I told her that the server was very patient and that the person he’d waited on had a lovely view of the ocean but that even so the customer chose to comment on the cars he saw that he felt weren’t parked properly. Can you imagine what it must be like to miss a view like that because you’re fixated on the real or imagined bad parking of others? By this time, my family had come back inside to see if anything was wrong. My husband understood instantly what was going on and he said, “Did you give the kid a tip? Good.” We explained to our daughter that just because you have the power to make someone feel awful, that doesn’t mean you should use it. That being said, I do get very upset at people who don’t stop their cars at crosswalks but I’m working on that.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Christy has no more worries since taking mighty Mike Francesca’s place. His only concern is to be halfway as good. Let’s not worry about his recent beach frolic. Perhaps one day Brother Shark will bite him in the ass!

    There are millions of lousy drivers. Those wanting to remain on the planet (in one piece) will make every effort to stay clear of them. Counting similar offenses against one’s person might be a fun game for some, I suppose…

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I get the feeling that this was a very nice place to live, go to school and college and work for WASP males in and before the 1960’s, but not as great for the rest. With an even playing field, it may not be as lucrative and is certainly not as homogenized these days.

    Sure, most cab drivers were more polite in the day–though I have noticed quite a few who have asked friends who seem to be having trouble exiting a cab if they might help, just as in days of yore. There still are bus drivers who wait for citizens racing towards them or re-open doors and just as before, there are those who don’t budge and drive on leaving a frustrated, panting New Yorker or tourist standing on the street. There’s power going on in all these instances for sure. Some like to flaunt and take advantage of it and others are more compassionate.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Wow. You are a peach. And what a creep that guest was. Holy smokes. Perhaps there was something wrong with him! He was tough on the wait staff and clearly hard on you!

    We met up with a similarly irritating type the other week. We often have to change trains. When that happens the first conductor clicks one hole on the ticket leaving the second slot for the next conductor. The first conductor was chatting and by mistake he clicked twice on my 10-trip ticket for both myself and my husband. He apologized, scribbled something on the ticket back circling the extra holes with his pen and the second conductor smiled when I showed him the squiggle and, after I explained he moved on. A man behind us said to the conductor, “I hate it when people try to cheat the railroad.” The conductor said “I believed her. That mistake happens all the time.” Once the conductor moved on, I turned to the man who was well dressed and good looking and said, “How can you say that about me? You don’t know me. You don’t know what happened. And anyway, why would I cheat for only $11?” His reply, “Well, I’m glad to hear that.” He was next to a man who wanted to melt into the window. Imagine having to live with such horrible people–this guy and “yours.”

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t listen to WFAN but given the way CC has conducted himself the last few years, I wouldn’t listen to him now. I imagine that the deafening noise from NJ residents changing stations should he take Mike’s place might affect his longevity there. His conduct doesn’t promise too many opportunities in politics either. He’s lucky the public’s memory is short as a crew-cut so who knows what will happen.

  7. EB Said:

    EB said on Facebook: Governor Christie should’ve stayed inland. The guy in the big SUV you never know, maybe on the way to the hospital to see a loved one? Had a horrible day? And yes could be a world-class butthole.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    A friend told me there was a town beach he might have attended and had he done so he would have gained big points with locals. As for the driver, who knows. Being crushed by someone who is having a bad day hurts just the same. I’m guilty of extreme impatience behind the wheel and I have yelled at myself in this regard. In sardine city conditions I tend to be calmer.

  9. EB Said:

    EB on Facebook: Tuff living in the city,, I don’t know how you do it.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    I love it and the pace. So much to see; you tend to walk much more than when you get places by car; characters galore. If you have any disabilities you have a better chance to feel independent than in places you are car dependent. It’s what you’re used to. Public transport can be frustrating. Subway maintenance has been left unattended for too long making weekend travel hit and miss and busses are unreliable. Sometimes there are four expresses all together and no locals and then none at all for ages. If you miss the four you’re sunk. But there are cabs and Uber and Lyft options. There are still inexpensive exotic foods to be had if you know where and when (lunch). Worrisome are the numbers of empty retail spaces but that’s happening country-wide.

  11. EB Said:

    EB on Facebook: Different perspective, funny,, I always thought having a car was freedom! Yup, E-commerce will kill shopping as we used to know it.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    A car is wonderful. I love to drive and explore. So much easier to load up a car with groceries than to lug home my Trader Joe goodies. Both have advantages. Costs a fortune to maintain a car in NYC as there are few places to park and garages cost a king’s ransom. But if you can no longer drive and public transportation doesn’t go by your suburban or country house or apartment you are trapped at home.

  13. Tom Stier Said:

    Tom wrote on Facebook: I miss the city.

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