12 October 2007

Behavior and Laws

In a typically crowded mall, late afternoon, on one of the many holidays We have freckling the calendar. I enter a music store to see if anything good shows up in the bargain bin. I pass a few drum sets and other musical instruments set up in the display window. All of them have handwritten signs taped to them: No toque. Do not touch.

Behind Me, a kinetically-unchallenged miniature baboon races into the store and immediately starts banging his paws on a drum. The mother, a frump with every right to stay home and reduce the collective eye-strain of looking at her, heaves a deep sigh, shakes her head and walks towards the back of the store.

Baboon-boy is banging bongos. So I kicked him.

No, not really. I wanted to. I have a well-behaved seven-year-old boy and I've never wanted to kick him, but for baboon-boy? I say 20 yards. And that's unfair because the truly deserving target of a drop-kick in the ass is his apish mother, who probably whelped the child and gave up on trying to teach him civility, manners and respect before the banana-peeler shed his baby fuzz.

I moved down to the toy store, looking for something for My son. (No, really.) Despite 9 employees, practically every square inch of floor space was occupied by boxes, plushies, scattered playthings and people, adults and kids sitting on the floor in an apparent attempt to create a kaleidoscopic obstacle course.

One young father pulled out a batch of action figures (screw it: dolls) for his son to look at. The child made a face, grabbed the packets and flung them to the floor. What did Spineless Sire do? He followed his son to another aisle, the discarded toys adding to the pile in Aisle 3.

It's terribly easy to criticize these actions, but here's the basic point: Why do We need signs on every freaking drum and musical instrument to tell Us "Hands off!"? Why do Our stores so often look like they've been hit by a Richter 7.9? Why are We so hideously bad at keeping Our (k)ids in check?

Sure, you see this behavior--or lack of it--more often at the freak show called Wal-Mart, or at the crybaby convention called Toys 'R' Us, but it's inexcusable in any store. Yes, kids will be kids and they will, occasionally, mess things up. And maybe "The Broken Window Theory" applies, where chaos increases because chaos (in the form and metaphor of the broken windows on an abandoned building) are visible and thus "allow" further negative actions. In that case, quick intervention by employees could reduce the disorder.

But that's like trying to hold back the rising tide with a sponge mop. We simply misbehave in such great numbers that any action taken to overcome it are quickly seen as futile. And that leads to wondering: What does this say about Our society?

And here's an interesting facet to add to the discussion: We have the most extensive set of civil laws (by number of laws and the number and length of their clauses and subclauses) of any state or territory in the U.S.

We misbehave often. We have more laws than almost anyone else. Discuss.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

James said...

Well, laws are tools. The don't do anything by themselves. Shovels can't dig holes. Laws can't create civil society. I think it's the same problem with companies that think buying more "technology" will magically make them more "efficient." Haha, now there's a pipe dream. Computers are tools. Without trained people or a mission or a direction, they cannot help.

What does that say about Puerto Rico? If we do not get a mission, a direction, or something for which to work, when we're just going to keep passing laws and delude ourselves that they are doing something for us.

For now, all I see as the mission and direction in Puerto Rico is the concrete divider painting competition. In San Juan, every Sunday they are out painting the bridges and concrete dividers. First it was blue and white. Then it was light blue and grey. And finally it was light blue and beige. Give me a fucking break, Santini! Is this the way of progress for the nation - by striping the highways with a Dr. Seuss color scheme... over and over and over and over.

Sigh, it's so stupid, it makes my teeth hurt.