2013-11-22 / Columnists

Boyleing Points

Random Can Be So Wrong
By Kevin Boyle

Back in the day, everybody hitched. You could even hitch a ride to Rockaway beach. You’d hitch to the beach, sometimes to school. A lot of times, instead of waiting for a bus, you’d put out your thumb. When you had a hard time getting a ride, you’d swear that as soon as you got your own car you’d pick up every hitchhiker. And then you got your car, and became a snob, rarely picking up anyone.

There’s a commercial – not sure if it’s running any more – but it’s about random acts of kindness and how they lead to more acts of kindness. A stranger stops someone from stepping into an intersection as a car zips past. In the next scene that person helps someone else and so on. It’s very heartwarming. But, of course, my twisted mind makes me think of random acts of selfishness.

Like fake elevator gallantry. You wait on an elevator for the doors to close. And then you’re waiting and waiting and waiting. Finally the doors start to close and then you see someone running to jump in. If you have eye contact with them you feel compelled to help. You want to commit a random act of kindness. But... there’s a devil in you. You don’t throw your hand out to stop the doors. Instead all you do is act. You act like you’re reaching for the button that will reopen the doors but you stop short of touching it. You grimace, too late, sorry. The doors close on them. You made the person miss the elevator. But you didn’t want that person to think you were a total rat so you made the heroic gesture of lunging for the door- open button. But it was a total fake. You haven’t done that? Well, people have done it to you.

And then there’s hide and go sneak. You know, hiding stuff for your own damn benefit. There’s one copy of a book in the library or bookstore and you don’t have your library card or any cash on you so you hide the book in another section. Lots of people do it with clothing. There’s that nice shirt that fits just right but for one reason or another you can’t buy it then. So you move it to another rack or hide it behind a stack of pants. You might do the same thing in a food store. Oh, there’s only one left? Hide it. Until you can come back. It’s not like you’re stealing. You’re gonna buy it. It’s just that, well, you deserve it.

Sometimes, people do this at home. The sleeve of Oreos or Fig Newtons or Halloween candy suddenly disappears. You or somebody in the house – has hidden the goods. Sometimes snacks are hidden in hallway closets or hidden deep in the fridge behind gods- know- what in the tin foil.

Of course, some random acts of selfishness are worse than others, like taking up two parking spots. Some creeps park smack in the middle of the white line. Because you are not the sub- human they are, you don’t get out and coin the car. Though part of you is dying to.

In the same neighborhood of selfishness is placing an almost empty shopping cart on line while a cohort does the actual shopping. This is so wrong. People, reasonably, get behind someone because the cart is nearly empty. They don’t get behind the cart to watch it fill up by some stealth shopper. They don’t get behind it to be scammed. If you are a shopping cart scammer, stop. Bad karma awaits you.

I tell ya, good thing that hurricane happened, otherwise, I’d be a little cynical about humans.

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