I was taking a short cut the other day across Chelsea Parade. Even though it's ringed by a sidewalk, you can see the private paths many have blazed across it as we step out, if not to a different drummer, than to some form of alternative percussion. I was on a semi-dirt trail passing in front of the Civil War monument that links the NFA Administration building to the parade intersection with Williams Street when I stepped in it, and I'm not speaking figuratively.
I was angry, first at the animal whose droppings I had discovered with my shoe but then, more correctly, at the thoughtless owner, whomever it was/is. While I was cleaning my sneaker and breathing a happy sigh it wasn't July and I wasn't barefoot, I realized it's this 'I am the center of the universe-everything but me needs to change' mindset I'd want us to finally abandon in 2012.
We've all seen this 'the rules only apply to people who don't know better' attitude far too often. Around here, the pooper/scooper requirement is just one of our more casual examples. If I had a dollar for every doggy daddy or mommy I've encountered underway without the requisite clean-up utensils, I could afford to build a second (and much-needed) dog park in the city.
People can be very defensive when called out on this (take my word for it),clutching their animal's leash in one hand while cloaking their embarrassment by feigning indignation with the other. Of course, standing in front of them with dog-don't all over my sneakers doesn't necessarily give me the moral higher ground, though it smells like I may have a point.
We know what the right thing to do is. We just choose to do otherwise and then wonder why so many of our endings are a little light in the happiness department-and whom we can blame. Start with the reflection in the mirror. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Perhaps like you, we're a city filled with people who want nice things. We admire the amenities and enhanced community quality of life other locales across the region have while wishing we had the same. And yet we are unable (actually unwilling) to accomplish those actions to create a foundation to build an environment of excellence.
We complain about trash on our streets instead of picking it up-or more on point, without contacting the Public Works Department who manage the contracts with the refuse removal services to 'encourage' these companies to do a better job. It's too bad because somebody really should get involved, just as long as it's not us..
We all know how effective a Neighborhood Watch can be in promoting public safety where we live and work -and if you don't, contact your local police department and someone will will be very happy to explain it to you in whatever detail you require and desire. But even then, the next time we see something, we'll reach for the curtains before we'll reach for the phone. It's too bad because somebody really should get involved, just as long as it's not us.
Everyone has a story about 'them' and 'downtown' but none of us have stories that place us at a City Council meeting, or searching out a neighbor who is on one of the volunteer panels we have for All Things Great and Small (I think I'm kidding about the name) to see what we can do to help. We won't ask those questions because we can't stand the answers. It's too bad because somebody really should get involved, just as long as it's not us.
If only anybody knew somebody. As Gandhi noted, 'be the change you want to see in the world.' I'm not sure which one of us wanted to be the Intermodal Transportation Center but I guess we'll find that out soon enough. Everything in life changes and not all change is good-but it can be good enough, if we’re willing to work at getting better.