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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Since everyone, myself included, seems to have survived the publication of Part One of That Should Be A Thing!, I am unafraid in my quest to bring you today’s installment, henceforth known as Part Two.

The only difference is that this time, mercifully, there will be no poetry section.

For those just joining us, That Should Be A Thing! is, as I laid out in Part One, a discussion and analysis of “awkward social situations that I believe are common enough (and awkward enough) to warrant some kind of culture-wide understanding.”

Last time we fleshed out Open Door Policies, behaviors I believe we ought to exhibit (or refrain from) while entering a doorway.

It is my hope that you will take this suggestion as seriously as the last set.  Which is to say, I hope you skim it and then roll your eyes and then sigh and then yawn and then close your browser and unexcitedly move on with your life, completely unaffected.

That Should Be A Thing!

Part II: Parallel Universal

Problem: Determining whether it is socially appropriate, all elements considered, while walking on a sidewalk, to attempt to assist a driver struggling to parallel park his/her vehicle.

Rule: Yes, it is always acceptable and appropriate while walking, to stop and assist a driver attempting to parallel park.

Explanation: This is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

So far as I can tell, what is preventing folks from helping others park in difficult situations are the somewhat vague notions that (a) people generally want to be left alone and (b) even if they do not want to be left alone, it is insulting or embarrassing to assist a person if they do not actually need the help.

I’d prefer not to live in a world where these are our default assumptions about the people we encounter.

(I will, of course, continue living in that world, but I’d prefer not to.)

Regarding (a): “Folks want to be left alone.”

Some people demand to be left alone.  Some people would rather live permanently inside their own head than sit with a stranger for ten minutes on a park bench.  Or talk about the weather with a fellow milk-and-avocado buyer in line at the grocery store.  Some people.  And yet the reality is that for most of us, an imperfect, good-natured interaction with a stranger or random passer-by is an immediate improvement to an otherwise forgettable day.  So why not try to be that stranger?

Regarding (b): “It’s weird to help a person if they don’t need it.”

I blame our increasingly-isolated society for this theory.  Yet, as a bit of a 21st century digital boy myself, I sympathize with the anxiety (annexiety?) associated with the thought of assisting the perfectly capable.  But let’s be honest with ourselves: this is a morally questionable position to take.

If you witness someone trip over a stone and struggle to stand up, you would (or should!) help them, even if you reasonably assume that they eventually could get to their feet by themselves, right?

If someone is struggling and we have it in our power to diminish their suffering — especially if the cost (time, money, effort, etc.) to us is low (which it is in the case of our helping someone parallel park) — it seems that we ought to help, regardless of whether the person could eventually fix their own problem.  So, why should anything change when the party being assisted is surrounded by a couple thousand pounds of steel?

The next time you’re wandering around town and you see a poor soul struggling to fit their SUV in between a RAV and a hard place, consider guiding them home.  It won’t take you much time and hey, maybe it’ll make their day a little less horrible.

And then, once they’ve settled into their spot, you can finally smile and passive-aggressively point out of the irony of their prominently placed “GO GREEN” bumper sticker.

Exceptions:

  1. Truck displaying truck nuts
  2. Visible gun rack
  3. Invisible gun rack
  4. Confederate flag decal
  5. Gun rack shaped like confederate flag
  6. License plate ‘FKURSLF’

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