Jan 30, 2007

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

We've all been there. In that conversation. That conversation that makes you feel like the cop. Or Dad. Or Mom. Or the Nagging Wife? Where were you? Why didn't you call when you knew you'd be late? Why didn't you tell me you weren't coming? What were you doing that you couldn't pick up the phone and call.
And you are sitting there. Feeling like a nag and a fool and upset because you were waiting or you didn't do something or you were late to something else and rude to someone else and YOUR only excuse is that they PLUM FORGOT. They just sort of forgot that they were supposed to meet you at a certain time or that you'd be waiting where you agreed to meet or that it takes time to get in their car and drive there or that they don't have time to spend 4 hours hanging out having a beer when those 4 hours start an hour before you were supposed to be at dinner. They plum forgot that you had a life and a schedule to keep too and they plum forgot to take your needs into consideration.

And then the kicker comes: I don't understand. Why are you upset. You seem upset. Is there anything I can do? I wish you weren't upset.

They don't understand. They can't wrap their minds around what it is that they have done and why it would upset.

Look, there is a reason your momma brought you up the way she did and why she taught you to be on time and to show common courtesy. And it wasn't to be an asshole and nag. It wasn't to torture you and place confines on your free spirit.

Most articles of common courtesy are about basic consideration. They are about respecting people's time and space and money and other obligations. And while I have been as guilty of the absentminded self absorbed fuck up as anyone, I've also learned, in direct correlation to the trajectory of my awareness that other people exist, that you can't just blatantly disregard other's needs and expect them to not be upset. I've learned that most laws that govern common courtesy are not just reasonable, but they are logical, and sensical as well. And when someone is telling you that they are upset about you being rude, well, that isn't therapy dude, it's communication about the toe you stepped on. And it isn't rocket science. It isn't hard to understand. If you can put yourself outside your own head, it's actually pretty basic. And to imply that you can't "get it" is to imply that you don't understand why they wouldn't want to have that toe black and blue or that you don't understand the correlation between your weight down on it and that bruise. It communicates that you just don't understand whythey would expect you to walk around them and not right through. And, that, frankly, insults everyone's intelligence. That, frankly, is just plain insulting. As if your toes are just too demanding and your chaotic need to have them in once piece is your own personal pychotic need to remain painless.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: we all make mistakes. We all, on occasion, are rude or late or even forget to show up at all. We misunderstand directions, plans, dates, instructions. And when that happens, once in a while, we say sorry and we endeavor to make it up to the person and we try, extra special hard, since we just fucked with them and their lives, to not do it again.

But we know. Because we also understand that we don't want to be kept waiting for hours on a street corner or turn down ticket because we have plans that someone else has no intention of keeping. And while such transgressions are nowhere near malicious or cruel, with repetition they can begin to resemble reckless disregard. And in some places that is enough to conviction.

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