Other People’s Stuff


It’s pretty obvious to me that things just aren’t what they used to be. I know that as I get older I’m tending to be less tolerant of the endless examples of annoying behavior exhibited by people I encounter daily. Is it because I am mirroring the stereotypical curmudgeonly traits of advanced retirement, or is there just more annoying behavior to get under my skin?

One thing I know for sure is that there is an expanding wave of utter disrespect for the sanctity of Other People’s Stuff. As a child, I can’t count the number of times I was told “That’s not yours, don’t touch that!” or “Leave other people’s stuff alone.”

Apparently, today, that axiom has faded from our society. I see it in small ways, like yesterday at the Costco, when a flock of children shopping with their unconcerned elders chanced upon a sectional couch on display. Immediately, one of the younger kids ran up, climbed over the back of the couch and flipped herself lengthwise onto the cushions. Of course, two of the others followed suit. The first one, jumped up and ran along the curved cushions of the sectional chased by the other and climbed up on and jumped off the arm of the recliner at the far end. Of course, this was accompanied by peals of laughter and shrieking joy. What was not in evidence was even the slightest sign of disapproval from their parents.

Somehow, the boundaries between what is mine and what is public have not just become blurred, they have disappeared. Or perhaps more accurately, they still exist, it’s just that no one respects them anymore. Handbill distributors think it’s perfectly OK to trudge across my landscaping, so they can hang their detritus off my front door knob. One recently walked past, inches from a bedroom window, on his way from my front door to my neighbor’s instead of taking the long way, down the sidewalk to the street. Recently, two young bucks took the liberty of walking up my long driveway and carefully examining the windshields of my parked cars in the hopes that they could ring my doorbell and sell me a windshield repair. Alerted by my security cameras, I watched them lean over the fenders, walk around each car, and give it scrutiny. For all I know, they were looking for an unlocked door. When I confronted them, they were actually surprised that I was upset. When I found out that, additionally, they didn’t even have a proper solicitation permit, I had the sheriff escort them out of town. What ever happened to “private property?”

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