The Fountain Lady and “Sidewalk Rage”

Americans get wimpier with each new victim classification.


Original story: CBSNews.com

Thank you, Fountain Lady, for showing the world that America has hit bottom, you sniveling, self-aggrandizing, credit card stealing poseur.

Every day there’s a new way to play victim, to upgrade inconvenience and discomfort to martyrdom. Likewise, there’s always fresh casualty narcissism in the news and increasingly easier ways to collect from resulting lawsuits.

Every time we turn around, someone else is blubbering, finger pointing, and stooping lower than the last “casualty” on the American Credibility Scale. Some say it began with the hot coffee lawsuit of 1994, and I tend to agree, but somewhere between then and now the courage has drained out of us even further. We’ve become so needy, so desperate for uniqueness and special consideration that now the national dialogue has turned to “sidewalk rage.” Yes, we’ve finally gone and done it: bestowed a negative, litigious connotation to the simple act of traversing a crowded American sidewalk. I wish Rod Serling were here to see how we’ve created a world where you can actually be held accountable for someone else not watching where they’re walking. Isn’t it bad enough for a nation of fatties to associate taking a stroll with wasting precious effort?

“While smart phones and other electronic devices changed popular culture by offering an ability to always stay connected, they have so swiftly turned into such a compelling need that a simple walk down the street is considered wasted time.”

It’s sad that we’ve gotten to this point. Because forget apple pie, sidewalks are even more American – and far more important. Sidewalks are where toddlers can know, officially, that they’ve “arrived” in the world, where we learn to pick ourselves up, and where we our manners (should) take the stage. As a child, did you ever catch a beggar’s eye on the sidewalk and feel forever changed? For me, that lesson came at an early age, and I wouldn’t have traded the sense of growth in that moment for anything in the world. Sidewalks glue together our psychic geography, our civic pride, and demarcations of “home.” As of today, though, sidewalks will have to take the rap as the latest thing to fear, where your grabbing, seizing nine-year-old will get you sued, where cigarette smoke will be the new slip ‘n fall for litigious faultfinders. Sidewalks may have long stood symbolically for “the jungle out there,” but now we ourselves are the real danger. And apparently, we can no longer be trusted with the responsibility for navigating a sidewalk without an excuse hook on which to hang our failure.

The problem with such a phantom “reason” for bad etiquette as “sidewalk rage” is that somebody, somewhere, today or tomorrow, will be prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to combat the stress that results from this latest phenomenon. And that will legitimize it further.

So save it, Fountain Lady: your claim to victimhood is all wet. (Sorry, but I had to…)

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