Jim O’Brien: Our selective disregard for laws and regulations may not be so healthy

In this country, we like to think that our tendency to ignore rules and regulations is a pretty attractive national trait. It feeds into a notion of ourselves as people who love “a little devilry.” Much of our attitude toward laws and customs can range from grudging compliance to carelessness and disobedience.

If we do not want to blame everything on our colonial past, this has something to do with the deep-rooted belief that temporal law comes from a foreign authority and must be fought. There is a certain insidious deference to disregard for what are considered “minor laws” or regulations.

I was a smoker for about 20 years. I remember being on a train and in a non-smoking compartment sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I happened to find myself next to an old friend and as the conversation deepened I thought the occasion deserved a cigarette.

I took my cigarettes out of my pocket and was about to light one when a man from the other end of the car yelled at me, “Excuse me with the cigarette, I chose this car because it’s smoke-free. Would you please put out the match and put away the cigarette, or go to another part of the train.”

I put the cigarette back in the pack, embarrassed. Such was my embarrassment that I never smoked in a non-smoking area again.

Also in the early 1980’s I was spending summers working in Chicago. I remember one day driving a co-worker to the local store for a quick errand.

I dropped him at the door and backed into the only empty space reserved for people with disabilities. I left the engine running to assure everyone involved that I wasn’t staying.

Meanwhile, a woman who was putting her groceries in the car next to me showed great interest in me.

When she finished packing, she walked up to me and asked, “Excuse me sir, but do you have a disability?”

“No, I didn’t,” I replied, expecting a pleasant conversation.

“Now what the hell are you doing in that parking lot?”

“I just need a minute. I’m waiting for my friend who just ran an errand.”

“Error, my ass,” she replied. “Are you English?”

I was tempted to say yes but felt it would be more beneficial to play the Irish card.

“Actually, I’m Irish,” I said.

“Actually, mister,” she replied, “it doesn’t matter where you’re from,” and then scolded me for my lack of consideration.

As my late mother might say, when it was high she got me, but when it was low she left me.

After she drove away, I maneuvered my car into her parking lot. When my friend came back I looked obviously upset and he asked if I had seen a ghost. When I explained what had happened, I got no sympathy; He told me that if the police had come, I would have been immediately fined $100 and given a confirmation of my driver’s license.

I could also have been arrested for not being a resident of the country. Since then I have never parked in a handicapped spot, not even for a second.

A friend of mine whose husband recently developed a disability received a disabled parking permit for his car. However, she is deeply frustrated by the number of able-bodied drivers parking in disabled spaces. Everywhere she takes her husband—be it to the bank, to the post office, to the grocery store, even to the doctor’s office and hospital—she finds handicap spaces occupied by cars without a permit, and presumably being driven by able-bodied drivers.

This means driving around until she finds another seat, possibly leaving her husband uncomfortably on the sidewalk or covering distances he cannot walk.

People who describe themselves as having the best will in the world may have parked in these lots “for just a minute,” but when a driver with a disability drives by, how does he or she know how long that “minute” is going to be? ?

As someone who drives an electric vehicle, I have some idea of ​​what it’s like. Oftentimes, I’ll pull up at a charging station on the street only to find it occupied by a fossil-fueled car.

Our enduring post-colonial tendency to ignore laws or regulations that we consider “fiddly and fuzzy” may feed our quasi-genetic need to be rebellious, but it comes at a cost.

This price is often paid in inconvenience and pain by innocent and vulnerable people.

Every time I even think about pulling into a parking space reserved for people with disabilities, the woman’s voice in Chicago echoes through the decades and her words ring in my ears: “Errand, my ass.”

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/our-selective-disrespect-for-laws-and-regulations-might-not-be-all-that-healthy-41927614.html Jim O’Brien: Our selective disregard for laws and regulations may not be so healthy

Fry Electronics Team

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