Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Do You Have an Except-Me Clause in Your Contract?
I have a hilarious friend who used to work at a busy downtown parkade. 

This parkade exits onto a busy downtown street. 

There are 'No Left Turn' signs all around the exit. Turning left there takes a long time, backs up traffic in the parkade for people trying to leave, and creates dangerous situations for other cars, bicycles and pedestrians because of visibility problems. 

In the summer, when people's windows are rolled down, she'd yell 'Except you, honey,' at all the cars (many cars, every single day) who turned left anyhow.

For a long time, I wondered about people persistently turning left against the signs, including the ones painted on the roads. I used to wonder, 'are there this many people who don't know which way is left?' and 'are there this many people who passed the test and forgot that a double yellow centre line means you are never allowed to cross it?' 

Then, I heard this friend one day... 
Ah-ha! I get it now!

It's the 'except me' clause. 

Yes, yes, we all know we're not allowed to turn left, here, but I live there and work over there, so I have to turn left there ... or I'd have to approach my house from a different way, think about my route more than once in my lifetime, go around the block or go past and turn around and come back, which, obviously, I'm certainly never, ever going to do. 

Although, everyone else in every single situation exactly like this that makes me have to stop or wait or slows traffic or breaks laws should get a ticket and have their licence revoked and probably be publicly shamed and pilloried (whatever that is.)

Except me. 


This sounds a little bit like a massive ego and a major sense of entitlement interfering with thinking clearly, but it's actually much worse than that. It is sheer, unadulterated, disengagement from reality.

This pops up everywhere. Years ago, when the Canucks (Vancouver, BC-based NHL hockey team for all the non-sport folk) won or possibly lost a big game, riots occured all over Vancouver.
On the news footage, on nearly every corner, there were people standing still, ignoring police instructions to get off the streets. A couple of women stand out in my memory as they stood chatting and smoking on the corner as the riot passed by like a parade, with police very intensely ordering them to move away to safety, and they just stood there all affronted that someone was actually under the impression that they had any authority to even ask them to take a step backwards. 

It was hilarious, watching the tear gas roll over them, and they started choking and gasping and screaming and crying... 

I really wanted to be close enough to them to ask, 'did you think they were kidding?'

Somehow, to these women, the police just didn't mean them. "Everyone else should be somewhere else, but I'm okay, 'cause I'm just standing here not doing anything, so they all have to do what they're told and I'll just stand here, 'cause they don't mean me..."  

I always wondered if they sued for pain and suffering.
Of course who they'd sue is an interesting question. I mean, where does it stop, if no one in your whole life up to now has disabused you of the delusion that there is an 'except me' clause in your contract with the world? 

Do you sue your parents for not enlightening you? Your school? The whole country for not including it? 

Your own lawyer? Earth?