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06/17/2005 Entry: "I Claim This Sidewalk In The Name Of Me!"

"Beep Beep!"

I knew immediately what was happening; I had seen her friend ride off the sidewalk into a lane of oncoming traffic, and pick her way back between parked cars to get to the shopping center's entrance. (The only pedestrian walkway in, I might note.) I intended to ignore the woman riding her bicycle on the sidewalk behind us, certainly until she used actual words instead of pretending she was a car.

We kept walking. Eventually she squeezed between me and the wall and said something like, "Hey, thanks for moving out of my way."

"Well, don't ride your bicycle on the sidewalk." Not sure whether The Boyfriend or I said it first...and I don't remember exactly who said what, as it all goes a little red when I think about it, but I think I snapped a little. At least I refrained from using profanity, as I didn't think it would have helped my case. But words were exchanged. While I feel for the challenge of riding a bicycle in the city, I also don't take well to self-righteous asses who feel entitled to do what they like on a public sidewalk. We expressed as much, and she turned to cycle down the sidewalk in front of Trader Joe's saying, "Go see a therapist. You guys need some tissues for your issues."

I couldn't help but laugh. Somebody was stuck in third grade, and I'm not sure which one of us was pulling the other one back there with juvenile name calling and rules mongering. And since I've been dwelling on it for the past week, yes, maybe I do have some unresolved anger to work on around self-entitlement.

On the other hand, she was clearly being a bitch.

It's been difficult lately to tell what's just me being bitchy and what's seriously making me angry. Thinking about the sense of entitlement and consequently trying to consider what I consider my own entitlements tends to leave me a little testy in general. I have resisted the urge to flame several people on the gay gamers bulletin board in posts demanding free music or a boyfriend or a company to produce games their way. I don't usually participate in flame wars...normally I am the peacemaker, the one who is diplomatic to a fault, the one who tries to give both sides measured consideration and equal time. And you know what they say about arguing on the Internet. But it feels I have been down to my last nerve lately and people everywhere keep stepping on it.

There have been one or two moments at work this past week where I considered taking someone's project and literally throwing it at them. Here, if you want it done precisely to your specifications, why don't you sit your ass in front of the monitor and do it yourself? [Crash! Thud!] I have, thankfully, restrained myself. They don't owe me anything if I don't produce. Or more to the point, we have responsibilities to each other: my work for their paycheck. But the social contract has to work both ways. When it doesn't, you get Tyco and Enron.

The world may not owe me anything besides our basic rights (and considering the abuses heaped upon those might be another source of my anger this week); neither do I necessarily owe the world anything in return. That's no reason to devolve back into that self-centered third-grader who wants his toys now and will scream like Veruca Salt if he doesn't get them. But some days, it feels a little like we're the odd ones out who believe this. I don't know that we're entitled to a world without carelessness and selfishness but I do think we need to live like it, at least if we want to stop it from spreading further in our laws, our politics and our culture in general.

On the other hand, maybe I'm just being a bitch.

Replies: 12 comments

It isn't you. When QP decided to flaunt his sense of entitlement and then called it Anarchy... I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Posted by Greg @ 06/17/2005 10:28 PM PST

I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that there's no such thing as actual entitlement or objectively basic rights. It's all political and subject to change. The good news: it turns out self-interest and the common good aren't mutually exclusive; we're just taught to think they are so we'll keep buying things. Screw your neighbor and you'll eventually end up screwing yourself.

Sounds like she was a bitch, though...

Posted by Huntington @ 06/18/2005 12:50 AM PST

"You're so cute when you're all pouty like that..."

Seriously, though, throwing a little temper tantrum now and then is a good thing. It's like indulging in a day spa or a massage.

I would venture to say that the only rights you're "entitled" to are the ones you stand up for. I am also of the opinion that treating others with respect won't always insure that you're treated the same, but it sure seems to help. And people who ride their bikes on the sidewalk piss me off.

Posted by The Former But Still Evil Roommate @ 06/18/2005 03:11 PM PST

I have dreamed of sliding a stick into the spokes of the idiots who ride their bikes on the sidewalk. Especially since it is ILLEGAL to do so.

Not that I would ever do anything illegal or anything.. But I do dream of retribution for the idiots who almost run me down.. It's bad enough fighting the cars, but now it's cars and bikes...

Posted by Sillynun @ 06/19/2005 10:09 AM PST

Honey, kicking and screaming is the only way to fly.

Office: “I would be delighted to work on your project, if and when you present me with a concise project schedule and all required materials. Otherwise, I cannot give you a precise time and date as to when I can finish your project.”

Street: “Use deodorant, not pathchouli, you elitist suburbanite!”

Posted by Jhames @ 06/20/2005 09:35 AM PST

Yes but you are *entitled* to be a bitch. :)

Posted by lestypop @ 06/20/2005 02:44 PM PST

If God intended for people to ride a bicycles, he'll have it grow out of our body (out of the you-know-what part) and put up a sign on the street that says "Bicyclists."

She clearly was rude to you by not doing as she ought to have done, which was to move around you. The way she says "Thanks for doing that" as if she was calling attention to your deficiency was an attribute of her and so many drivers' and riders' sense of entitlement.

Listen to Lesty, he speaks wisdom.

Oh, and I must tag you, you're it, if you're a passing bookworm.

Posted by Alan @ 06/21/2005 07:05 PM PST

now, when you start with a sweet little cyclist on your public sidewalk and twelve lines later you blame enron on her, well, then you're just like my dad who, once i got him going, would end up blaming the iraq war on skateboarders. and no, her being a bitch does not entitle you to be one, it just doesn't work that way. if, however, you are a bitch just because it makes you feel alive, well, that's okay but only if you bake cookies for someone after.

Posted by tutu @ 06/22/2005 09:49 PM PST

I should point out that the "sweet little cyclist" was not a twelve-year-old in pigtails but a twenty-something woman who should have paid more attention in third grade. I'm sure she would have been a nice person under different circumstances. But with her Birkenstocks firmly in those bike pedals, my experience with her was a different one.

I didn't notice if her performance fleece sweater had the Enron logo embroidered on the chest, so please don't attribute things to me that I didn't say.

As far as my post goes, I will start and go where I like, thank you. Straw man arguments and mild ad hominem attacks aside, I stand by my analogy of attitudes at the personal and nationall levels as a standard rhetorical device. Plus, it's my Website.

I am also very sorry about whatever happened to your shift key. ;)

Normally I am the one who swallows my bitchiness to avoid conflict and just bakes the cookies. So I have a few cookie-sheets of hot, flaming bitch in my mental oven. I'd offer you some cold milk with yours but I'm fresh out.

Ah...I do feel a bit more alive now. :)

Posted by Casey @ 06/23/2005 11:46 AM PST

Casey's always got cookies and fuzzy pickles to hand out to people. He's entitled to being a bitch every once in a while. I'm sure there's a lot of pent up fury in there that needs to get out somehow.

Kind of like how Mr. Rogers sprinkles his pants with itching powder and then buys lap dances for kicks.

Posted by LestyPop @ 06/23/2005 03:47 PM PST

Wow, LestyPop, I've known Casey for, ummm... well... since we were in our mothers' wombs, and I doubt I could have expressed it better.

The fact of the matter is that we're all allowed to be grouchy or bitchy or nasty every once in a while. It's called "being human". And it's also helpful because when someone is being grouchy or nasty or bitchy to me, I can pause and say, "Hey, this person is just human, maybe they're having a bad day." Right before I poke their eyes out with my Chopsticks of Death.

Posted by The Former But Still Evil Roommate @ 06/23/2005 07:20 PM PST

I was crossing on foot at the corner of Market, Noe, and 16th Streets the other day, in the crosswalk, with a walk signal, when a late-20s-ish woman in an SUV decided that I and the other pedestrian trying to cross were harshing her mellow as she sped through the intersection. She's lucky I didn't key her car as she went past.

On the other hand, just a block away, at the corner of Market, Castro, and 17th Streets, I almost always see pedestrians walking out into the street against the traffic signals, without even looking for oncoming traffic.

If I weren't already there, it would be enough to drive me nuts!

Posted by Lincoln Madison @ 06/25/2005 11:25 AM PST

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