Here in New York we have subway Oblivions.
These are the people who try to get on the train before a crowd of people get off, and they're also the reason why NYC had to pass a law — a law! — stating that using an empty seat for your personal belongings, like a shopping bag or backpack, is an offense worthy of a fine.
At rush hour in the morning, when people exit the train, hordes go up the stairs at once, leaving anybody who is descending the stairs to try to catch the same train out of luck.
I heard a man start screaming at these stair-rushers the other morning as he watched his train pull away.
"You people are so selfish, you know that," he yelled. "So selfish."
He's right. But we're all guilty. I was also ascending those stairs to get to work. I was one of the rushers, and after hearing this guy scream in frustration as he tried to part the sea of people, I realized I was an Oblivion, too.
After all, he was on the stairs long before we hordes of people were.
But it's the mob mentality rule that takes over. I once watched a line of cars go around a school bus that was stopped with its red lights flashing. When it came my time to follow the pack, I decided I should wait. After all, the red lights were flashing. I pulled closer to the back of the bus, and people behind me actually went around me, and the bus.
When the bus finally stopped flashing red, I proceeded on my route, and guess what? A police officer had about six cars pulled over, in front of the bus. They all got tickets, and I bet it didn't even dawn on any one of those drivers that they were breaking the law.
They just played follow the leader.
Guys at professional sports arenas have the mob disease, too. They curse at opposing players as if it were their right. Ever go to the Phillies' stadium in Philadelphia? The visiting team's bullpen is overlooked by Philly fans who yell obscenities about the pitchers and their wives or girlfriends. I don't understand what makes a seemingly normal guy do this when he's with his friends.
As a reporter, I've been covering sporting events with a cameraman. As soon as the camera even points in a group of guys' direction, they'll start screaming and grunting with their finger in the "We're number one" position before they even know what I'm covering. I might be doing a story about morons at football games and they'd fit right in.
It reminds me of the time when I was covering Spring Break down in Ft. Lauderdale, where the minister Luis Palau was holding one of his annual events that are more party than sermon. A woman ran up to me on a public beach with her two tweenage daughters and said, "Can my daughters be on TV?"
We interviewed them and mom asked where it would air. Since I didn't have a FOX flag on the microphone I said "Girls Gone Wild," and mom had a mini-heart attack before I told her I was joking.
But come on, lady, don't just thrust your children in front of a camera without knowing the deal. I know I look innocent and all, but so does Debra Lefave, and I don't think I'd be letting her alone in a room with my nephew.
But oh yeah, "she's changed," according to her lawyer. I'm sure film director Roman Polanski has changed, too, but he still can't step foot in this country without going on trial for statutory rape. Maybe he should just face trial and get a slap on the wrist. Perhaps he'll win an Oscar next film out.
Go figure. Now I know why she's called Lady Justice.
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