I need to vent, and you folks are good for venting.I was just walking on campus between classes, always rush hour with bikes and pedestrians in a hurry.There's a blind student with a cane I see regularly. I saw one guy on a bike ride over his cane, getting it briefly caught in his spokes, breaking off the tip, and he just sped off. Then the blind student got hist cane knocked out of his hand, as he was trying to feel what had happened to it, by another biker, who again sped off. No one, by the way, came to his aid, and by time I got close enough he seemed to have got his bearings (and swearings) in order.I'm sorry. I try just to think I'm a typical old fart bad mouthing the younger generation, but more and more I'm convinced there is a large contingent of boomerangs and others who have been brought up without being taught to look both ways when they cross the street (overprotection) or are simply too self-absorbed that worrying about the consequences of what they do for anyone else is not on their agenda.I know I have become the ultimate in defensive walker and driver (assume that girl on the cell phone is going to drive through the crosswalk). But this one was a shocker.
Loki,I'm both a walker and a biker, and I share your outrage. What you saw should never have happened. Bikers have the means and responsiblity to maneuver around pedestrians, or they need to come to a complete stop until a path is clear. I'd bet you dollars to donuts, neither of those bikers was wearing a helmet. They don't care about their own safety, so why should they care about anyone else's? I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Don't get mad, get even. Write up your experience and run it in the editorial section of your campus newspaper. With any luck, someone else saw those events and can ID those cowboys, and campus security can bust them, because, for sure, there are right-of-way rules for campuses, just as there are for public streets. And if there aren't, common sense and decency should have prevailed.Those kinds of people give a bike riders a bad reputation, as well as disrepect persons who they themselves might one day be, the physically less able who legally and humanly deserve equal access and opportunity. Those two cowboys need to be stopped. Thanks for sharing the experience here, but, also, post it on campus. Charlie
I strongly agree with Charlie. Don't just write about it on MF, or tell people about it. Take some positive action, such as Charlie described. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."
Charlie,I'm reluctant to write the paper, because I don't know the student and I worry about ramifications. I did talk to a campus cop I know who basically said unless the student files a complaint they can't do anything (and probably not much then).What I did do was email the public safety committee, because the place and time this occurred is a train wreck, anyway, and this is yet another reason to push for something to be done in terms of bike lanes, etc. I think there's a lot more that can be done to improve safety by recognizng recklessness as a reality, which the planners don't like to do. There are plenty of incidents when people get hurt on campus through recklessness, and you'd think there should be some impact on consciousness, but no.As to bike helmets, I believe they are illegal for anyone between ages 11 and 46. Same goes for shirts during below zero temperatures on campus, and that includes the women.
Reminds me of Columbus day in San Francisco. After the parade I walked down to the wharf area to watch the Blue Angels. After that, I started over towards Fisherman's Wharf where I can catch the bus back to the apartment. It was very crowded as you can imagine. Along the way, I noticed a blind woman standing at the corner headed away from Fisherman's Wharf. She seemed puzzled. I asked if I could be of assistance and she wanted to know if she was headed to Fisherman's Wharf. I told her she was going the wrong way. On Columbus Day they reroute the buses around North Beach because of the parade and hers had dropped her a couple of blocks from her usual spot. Someone pointed her the wrong way. Maybe a tourist who did not know, but it could have been intentional.I asked where she was going and she said to work. I asked where and it is a well known restaurant on the wharf. I told her that I knew where that was and it was on my way and that I would go along with her if she wanted. I knew that she has to be cautious about this sort of thing so I let her make the decision. She agreed and I took her arm and we walked along toward the restaurant. She knew exactly where she was going and asked me the names of the streets and so on. After she became more comfortable with the situation and knew where she was, she talked to me about her job and the people she worked for. She has been there for many years and it sounded like they are pretty nice people. She said the job was mundane, but she liked the people. How she does this every day is an amazing story. If you've walked along the wharf crowded with people you know what I mean.It was an extraordinary experience for me. She was quite a person. Her world seemed to be a very warm place and full of joy and I felt privileged to be able to walk along with her to the restaurant. She told me that I should come to the restaurant for dinner one evening and mention her name. I plan to do that.JG
Loki,The reason I mention the bike helmet is the lack of one is a sure sign of an amateur rider or an irresponsible rider, who are also typically the people endangering pedestrians, running stop signs, etc. As to doing a write up, there are dozens of approaches you could take. Straight-forward outrage would be one. You've got the moral high ground. But burlesque might be even more effective. Set the scene as St. Friday and his sidekick doing an on-scenes interview as part of an accident investigation. What you saw was so bizaar that it wouldn't be hard run out a monologue that would have an audience in stitches with laughter until the seriousness of the event --that it really wasn't funny-- hit them like a bucket of cold water. The key would be to shock the reader into enough awareness to have them resolve to be courteous and kinder in their dealings with others. Yeah, doing the writeup would have to come from the gut, not the head, and if the motivation to do it isn't there, the piece wouldn't work.Obviously, the incident upset you. When I'm upset, I write. The writing brings understanding and acceptance. Life, sometimes, just isn't fair or nice. But, sometimes, the writeup made things better for others as well, for calling enough attention to the problem that the problem got fixed. More than once people have said to me "Thanks for stepping forward. I felt the same way you did, but didn't know how to say it." Like it or not, you're a keen observer and a gifted writer, and whether you consider those talents God-given or the result of DNA, you've got them. Raging feels good, but the righteous thing is to channel that rage constructively. "Karma, Baby. Karma." Charlie
She said the job was mundane, but she liked the people. How she does this every day is an amazing story. If you've walked along the wharf crowded with people you know what I mean.What job in a restaurant can a blind person do?I have some idea of how the walking along the crowded wharf might work, but I can't imagine which restaurant job can be done without sight. Clearly, my imagination needs more information.Vickifool
What job in a restaurant can a blind person do?Greeter, waiter (as long as the servers keep out of the way), cook, dishwasher.
Charlie,I've given some further thought to your suggestion of writing a letter to the campus paper. My first thought continues to be, "first do no harm." I don't know this student, and I don't know what his relationship is with other students, other than that I don't recall him ever walking or talking with others on the occasions I've seen him walking to or from class. I don't think I could write in a way the would maintain anonymity.Weigh this concern against any impact a letter might have. Probably none. I would like to think I could generate shame and contrition, but the fact is there is a letter to the paper or a news story or a message from the college president or provost or even one of the coaches at least once a week, this time of year especially, preaching to the students or complaining about drunken and boorish and reckless behavior. A lot of stuff is much worse than what I saw. The basic response is: partying is our right.
So change your focus. You're not against this guy in particular; you're against aggressive unsafe bicycling in general.
So change your focus. You're not against this guy in particular; you're against aggressive unsafe bicycling in general.I'm not against this guy (the blind student), at all. And reckless bicycle riding on campus is an old topic best addressed by improving the layout.The ethical question, here, is whether the impact I might have "shaming" students by pointing to a particularly mean incident outweighs concerns that my comments might backfire on the victim. My assessment is my positive impact would be minimal.
Lokicious,I really admire your writing, and hope you will reconsider taking a "keep quiet" stance. Some students will respond positively. You just need to publicize the incident, not necessarily the parties involved. It WILL reach the consciousness of some people, and maybe make the world a little better. The only thing you have to lose is the time it takes you to tell the story to the campus paper.Letting such incidents go by without speaking up is not "do no harm."
The ethical question, here, is whether the impact I might have "shaming" students by pointing to a particularly mean incident outweighs concerns that my comments might backfire on the victim. My assessment is my positive impact would be minimal.Loki, The impact of speaking out is NOT the ethical question. That's the POLITICAL question. As Ghandi is famously quoted, “What you do might have little effect, but it is important that you do it.” You came to this forum looking for support, as is your right as a human being and as a member of this group. So none should judge what you choose to do about the incident. If you're working in what amounts to a hoodlum environment and your fears of retribution to yourself are justified, then laying low and remaining anonymous might be a very prudent survival strategy. I don't work on that campus. So I don't know.To what extent any of us, at any time, should become our brother's keeper is the ethical problem. That's tough to decide. Show me a person who hasn't backed away from a moral fight he should have accepted, and I'll let him throw the first stone at you. Moral courage is easy to talk about in the abstract, but tough to have when a situation becomes real and the penalties affect oneself or one's family. I do think you are right that a conventional letter would have little effect, which is why I suggested gallows humor. If the writing were good, such that the piece stood on its own as a piece of writing, I cannot believe it would have no effect. But to do that writing would take passion. If the passion isn't there, the writing won't work and the incident is better forgotten. Charlie
So none should judge what you choose to do about the incident. If you're working in what amounts to a hoodlum environment and your fears of retribution to yourself are justified, then laying low and remaining anonymous might be a very prudent survival strategy. I don't work on that campus. So I don't know.Charlie,I'm not in the least worried about retribution to me—I've written plenty of stuff to make people angry. I'm worried about this blind student, who I don't know from Adam, and unforeseen consequences of shining a spotlight on him, including simply embarassment or unwelcome sympathy. If there was some way to write about the incident without his being identified, I'd do it in a flash. But I think the only way to make a strong story, it has to include the specifics. I can write some abstract diatribe against reckless college student behavhior any time.I'm probably over cautious about unforeseen consequences of well-meaning activities, but I've seen a lot of stuff over the years, some of which just floors you (like small town people who get singled out for honors from outsiders and then get ostracized by folks from their town for putting on airs). I have no problem putting myself at risk, but if I put someone else at risk, I'd better have a good reason.
Loki,Thank you for that explanation. You didn't need to defend your choice, but your futher comments certainly make it understandable.As you say, you know the territory and what can be done, and you have a greater sensitivity than me to unintended consequences. I tend to leap before I look, to put feelings into words before I reflect, assuming that everyone will share my viewpoint. They don't, of course, and I'm always puzzled. Sleep well. Tomorrow's a new day.Charlie
I'm worried about this blind student, who I don't know from Adam, and unforeseen consequences of shining a spotlight on him, including simply embarassment or unwelcome sympathy.If I were in your shoes, I'd be concerned about this too.jmc
I need to vent, and you folks are good for venting.Feel free, I'm willing to listen.Many years ago, I was on crutches and had to get myself from the parking garage to my office (1 1/2 blocks). Most folks were pretty careful (and mind you, this is NYC), but every once in a while some yahoo would practically knock me down running for a bus or taxi. I don't think I would be able to accomplish this same feat in today's world--I'd probably get knocked over at least once a day.but more and more I'm convinced there is a large contingent of boomerangs and others who have been brought up without being taught to look both ways when they cross the street (overprotection) or are simply too self-absorbed that worrying about the consequences of what they do for anyone else is not on their agenda.I hate to say it, but I'm convinced it's the latter. The "hooray for me, the hell with you" mindset that I frequently encounter in the young is disheartening. I'm happy to say that I enounter it far less frequently among young people of Asian heritage--there's an untouted bonus of immigration!A few months ago I griped on one of the TMF boards about the college students who throw garbage all over the streets by my housing development. I got about the same response you did--write a letter.The fact of the matter is, that if I wrote a letter about every injustice, unsafe condition, or unfair practice that I see in this city, I'd have no time to do anything else (including working for a living). Sometimes, you just want to vent, so in that vein...A few weeks ago I happened to be standing nearby a group of 4 college students at the time they got in their car and dumped a bag of garbage out the car door. I walked over to the car and knocked on the window. They wouldn't open the window, so I asked (quite loudly), "Would you do that at your house?" and I pointed to the bag. I received no response, so I asked again and added "People live here." After that the driver said "OK, OK, I'll pick it up", and she did. (Of course it helped that I had a muzzled dog with me who was barking and snarling during the whole confrontation ;-)I know I have become the ultimate in defensive walker and driver (assume that girl on the cell phone is going to drive through the crosswalk). But this one was a shocker. What's that saying, if you can't trust someone with a little, you can't trust them with a lot? The egocentrism that has risen in our society is an all pervasive attitude that has no power of discernment.2old
I hate to say it, but I'm convinced it's the latter. The "hooray for me, the hell with you" mindset that I frequently encounter in the young is disheartening.2Old,I think there are several, interrelated, things going on. There certainly are a lot of people now, and not just young, although I think a higher percentage of Generation x and after, you follow the "only wimps care what happens to others" view of the world. But there also a lot who just have never learned to pay attention to their surroundings.My wife and I experiment, whenever we see something like a hawk, with how many people will walk by without even looking up to see what we are staring it. The answer, usually, is everybody.I blame Public Television.
This might not be related, but a naturalist was visiting his NY friend once, and as they were walking along the busy streets he stopped. His friend asked him why. "Do you hear cricket?, was the reply, which, of course got a scoff. "In all of this noise, you can hear a cricket?" "It's what you learn to listen for that you hear," said the naturalist.His friend didn't believe him and pointed to all of the people rushing by as proof. No one else was stopping to listen. The naturalist just pulled a quarter from his pocket and dropped it on the sidewalk. Immediately, the passers-by slowed and turned their heads, all of them looking for it.
Best Of |