Having been taken to task for being overly depressed and downhearted in last night's blog I am ignoring politics for tonight in favor of another essay. I am not certain, however, that if you reflect too carefully on this subject matter you might still be somewhat down on things.
What is it that makes people so perverse? I am compelled to
ask as a result of a recent shopping trip. But let me begin with the obvious. Drivers do not obey the speed limit. No matter what the limit may be virtually everyone exceeds it most if not all of the time. Indeed, a person who follows the limit is regarded as a troublemaker and most usually villified by those drivers lucky enough to manage to pass him or her. Similarly, they do not obey other signs as, for example, "Keep Right Except to Pass." They stubbornly cling to the inside lane until absolutely forced to move over by those dedicated enough to stay so close behind them as to threaten their lives. I need not mention here people who park wherever they damn please no matter what the signs say, refuse to stop for pedestrian zones, make illegal turns, etc., etc. We all recognize how common these things are. And we all know that people have difficulty with "Keep off the grass," "No Fishing," "No Fires," "No hunting," "No smoking," and similar instructions.
On this particular shopping trip I had occasion see human perversity on a truly monumental scale. I entered a large store that specializes in feed, seed, bulbs, plants, and garden supplies of all kinds. It also has a pet department. It was here that I found human perversity in rare form. Above the pens where puppies were being kept, and directly at eye level so it could not possibly be overlooked, hung a very large sign mounted on a round piece of cardboard. It's message was clear: "Do not pick up puppies!" I watched in fascinated disbelief as three of every four people invariably picked up a puppy, sometimes more than one. Proceeding from puppyland to the aquarium section I found similarly perverse behaviors. In spite of signs everywhere that said, "Do Not Tap on Glass!" a large majority of customers proceeded to do just that. And not only little children who might be excused because they could not yet read. Older children and adults were just as bad or worse. This aquarium store keeps a pet crocodile. Actually I think it's a cayman. As such beasts are wont to do the cayman spends ninety-nine percent of its time just lying there without moving. It has a small sort of pond and a small area where it can rest in this fashion. On the wire fence that makes up the front of the cage are signs that say very plainly, "Do not throw pennies. They make me sick." Is that difficult to understand? Apparently it is for large numbers of people because the cage is literally covered in pennies from time to time. One might wonder why anyone would want to throw pennies in an alligator's cage in the first place. But they do. In large numbers. In spite of very visible directions to the contrary. They are perverse.
But this is not all. Where the birds are kept for sale there was a display of live birds, cockatiels I guess, that were uncaged and perching where they could easily be reached. There was a large sign in plan English that said clearly, "Do Not Handle the Birds" Is it necessary for me to point out that of course people handled the birds. At every opportunity they picked them up and petted them, cooed at them, talked to them, and behaved in general, in my opinion, like genuine lunatics.
This is a large pet store with a wide variety of animals, birds, and fish. On many of the cages there are signs that say quite plainly, "Do not put fingers into the cage." Everyone seems to be too busy pushing their fingers into the cages to bother to read the directions. "Do not pick up the bunnies. Ask for Assistance" Again, few pay attention.
I confess I could never work in such a place. Such a wholesale disregard of simple instructions would have me out of my mind in a very short time. I do not know how to account for this mass perversity. One might argue that a few people might be legitimately illiterate, especially small children. But this could only account for a very small percentage of offenders. I suppose some people just don't pay attention to the signs and thus, it could be argued, they are not deliberately disobeying. And there are no doubt those, resentful of authority of all kinds, who engage in perversity on purpose. Finally, I suppose there are a lot of just plain stupid people.
I have come up with a solution. They should post signs at every entrance and throughout the store that say in large easy to read print: PLEASE DISOBEY ALL OTHER SIGNS! After what I have said here about perversity this ought to work. But I know it won't. Why not? Because human beings are just plain perverse.