With all of the things going on in the world, I had an experience in Southampton that I think really shows how things are changing too far in the wrong direction, even at the smallest of levels.
I went into Rite Aid to buy some razor blades, and before I walked into the store I had an empty coffee cup to throw out. Usually, in front of the store, there is a garbage can sitting there, but when I walked in, it wasn’t there.
“Excuse me, do you guys have a garbage can that I can throw this out in?”
“We don’t have one out front anymore,” a very nice store manager said. ”Some guy flicked a cigarette into the garbage can and it caused a big fire, so for everyone’s safety, we got rid of the garbage can. But here, I can throw it out for you.”
I handed the man the coffee cup and he threw it out in a can behind the counter and I went about my business, but I couldn’t help but think about how he used the words, “for everybody’s safety” when he explained the garbage can removal.
And then I got to thinking how this one decision, even though it doesn’t really matter and doesn’t really affect me in any real way, is a line of thinking that I don’t think is right. It’s wrong to punish everybody who needs a garbage can just because of one idiot flicking a cigarette. All of us shouldn’t have to cater to this idiot. We shouldn’t have to adjust our lives because of one stupid person. The garbage can in front of the store IS NOT the problem that needs to be solved, it’s THE ONE PERSON that WAS the problem.
I feel like in my parents’ generation (who are very liberal Democrats I might add) the store manager would have yelled at the guy who threw the cigarette out that caused the fire, he would have embarrassed him, and then he would have worked out some kind of reasonable apology from the guy and had the garbage can replaced almost immediately. He then maybe would have put up a small sign on the garbage can, written in a very nice and respectful tone, reminding smokers to be careful when they throw out a cigarette. With this solution, the garbage can remains out front for the benefit of his customers and that one person who made that one mistake learned to be more careful.
Today however, the line of thinking is this: REMOVE THE GARBAGE CAN COMPLETELY. From now on and forever, that garbage can is illegal. It’s not allowed out front because the store owner says its not allowed to be there, and his reasoning seems logical. It’s for everybody’s safety.
But what happens when you continue to apply this logic? After all, the nighttime is when most muggings occur, so maybe for everybody’s safety, walking at night shouldn’t be allowed and you could be arrested if you’re spotted breaking curfew.
I know you may think I’m taking this a bit too far, but that exact law has gone into effect in some places around the world and throughout history, and it sucks to live in all of those places. The whole garbage can removal suddenly felt un-American to me when he told me why the garbage can was removed. So I feel like I have to write about it.
All I’m saying is that there has to be deep thought with rule makers today, and some things today that feel at first like “common sense” really turn out to be complete lunacy. At first, I’m sure, it made complete sense to remove the garbage can, but now as an outsider coming to the establishment, it appears to me absolutely ridiculous that the store doesn’t trust people enough to throw out their garbage without accidentally burning down the building.
There are way more good, reasonable people in the world than bad. All I’m trying to say is that rule makers, from guys managing a Rite Aid, to the local law maker, to the state governors, to the President of the United States, really need to keep that in mind when doing their jobs. Do we let the moron win and voluntarily makes rules that permanently punish all of us because of the poor behavior of a very small group of people and choose to live our lives in fear? Or do we make rules that punish people who do wrong when they do wrong, and choose to live in and enjoy a society that trusts the GOOD citizens MORE than it fears the bad and live our lives with the confidence that its up to us to stop them when they appear.
The latter was what this country was built on, and the former is what our founders fought and died to escape.
These days it makes more sense to me to keep the damn garbage can out front.