This Monday it hit 88 degrees here in New England, unseasonably warm for April. I took my two girls to Horseneck Beach in Westport to chill on the sand, listen to the waves, and soak up some sun.
To our surprise, the parking lot was packed. And because it is so early in the season the facilities were still closed, which meant no parking fee, no bathrooms, and no lifeguards.
We walked down the path the beach and were confronted with a large roped off area blocking the beach. To get to the water we needed to walk about one hundred yards to either side.
Curious as I am, I checked the small sign hanging from the rope. The area was a tern habitat, reserved to protect a nesting and breeding area. Being a big nature lover I wasn’t inconvenienced by the walk down the beach to find a spot where we could spread our blanket and hang out.
After a while of talking and playing a word game we enjoy, I noticed a woman duck the rope and walk right through the middle of the habitat. I think I have an overactive sense of justice, maybe that’s why I write crime novels. Anyway, I was really annoyed that hundreds of people walked around this rope and this woman thought she was entitled to walk right down the middle. Soon after another and another went, following her example.
For a while I thought that maybe it was too early for the birds to be nesting, but it has been a really warm winter and spring and who is to tell what timetable the birds are on. She didn’t look like a naturalist to me.
Needless to say, I’m not a fan of people who think the rules don’t apply to them. I wondered if other people were thinking similarly, chiding her silently but not saying anything because they didn’t want to seem too uptight.
This morning I’m thinking about rules and polite society in general and something interesting hit me. The rules of our society are put in place to protect people like her. This was a small, middle-aged woman. The rule she broke didn’t protect her, but imagine a time when people did whatever they wanted… Like cavemen.
Yesterday I took my daughter out for ice cream. We waited for half an hour in line behind a lot of mothers who looked a whole lot like that lady. So if there were no rules, I’m the first guy in line. I’m by far the biggest person around. I could have pushed my way to the front, ordered my ice cream and been gone in two minutes.
But I didn’t. Who’d do that?
So my question is… How do you feel when you see people breaking the rules?
Do you get annoyed? Or are you the one parking in the fire lane at the mall?