We like visiting the downtown area because there are cute shops and wide, tree-lined walks with lots of streetside dining. It's a relaxing place to spend an afternoon or get an ice cream after dinner.
One aspect I am less impressed with though, is the driving. Twice today I drove through one particular intersection that I've learned to watch very carefully. It's a 4-way stop but you'd never know it. There seems to be a "law of the land" that supercedes state driving regulations and somehow authorizes the person with the fanciest vehicle to barely stop (if at all) and cut off the more lowly driver. (Guess which car I was in?!) Ironically, the car I was driving is the nicest we've ever had; but when put up against the Land Rovers and Mercedes, we don't measure up.
The first time I was cut off today, I was annoyed but didn't respond in any particular way. The second time, I saw the fancy SUV coming to the stop to my left and just had a feeling they were going to blow by me. The law here is that if two cars pull to an intersection at the same time (we didn't) the car to the right has the right of way (umm...that would be me). I went ahead and began to pull into the intersection, looking at the other driver looking at me and pulling out anyway. Once again it seemed like the law of "bigger/fancier" won again over the actual highway regulations. (And I have to admit I did honk this time.)
The sense of entitlement reminded me of an encounter I had a few years ago.
I hardly noticed the man as hubs and I walked to a table in the cafe at our favorite bookstore. He stood at the back of the line, perusing the overhead menu before placing his order. I recognized him as a familiar homeless man--many of the homeless have adopted this bookstore as their new daytime hangout. Coffee is cheap, refills free and you can curl up in a comfortable chair and read all day without anyone really bothering you.
After a few minutes, I got up to take my place in line to order. The shabbily dressed, unkempt, slight man was still at the back of the line. As I approached to take my place behind him, he turned to me as though expecting me to go first. He had been standing there quite a long time, so I indicated that he should go ahead of me.
The look of surprise on the man's face startled me. I realized that the man must be used to people generally looking past him as though he isn't really there, cutting him off, preventing him from taking a place in line--or a place in society--that the rest of us take for granted.
It brought tears to my eyes to realize how often we can diminish the value of other people because they aren't dressed as nicely as we are, or they don't speak the language as well as we do, or they pay for their coffee with money they've collected by recycling soda cans.
Dear Abby once said, "The best index to a person's character is how he treats people who can't do him any good and how he treats people who can't fight back."
Now, I'll admit that I do struggle in situations like the intersection when I know I have "the right of way," but I hope that I don't create my own entitlement situations where I decide that I get to "go first" because I fancy myself somehow more important.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves." Phillipians 3:2
Poor Man Cookies
These unusual cookies can serve as a reminder to keep the proper perspective about our own importance and sense of entitlement.
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil for frying
confectioner's sugar for dusting
In large bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar and salt together. Gradually blend in flour to form soft dough.
Pour dough onto waxed paper, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. When chilled, roll dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. With pastry cutter or sharp knife, cut into 3-inch squares.
Cut a slash diagonally across each square. Carefully pull one corner through the slash. Repeat until all dough is used.
In a deep-fat fryer or heavy, deep sided pan, heat about 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees. Fry dough twists a few at a time for one to two minutes, until golden colored. Turn once or twice to brown on both sides..
Place twists on double thicknesses of paper towels to drain. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.