An Introspection

To say this weekend had its ups and downs for me is a bit of an understatement.

There were two marvelous events this weekend. The first had my wife and I meet up with my cousins in New York where we saw a very entertaining show where performers provided a live audience with a fake show of 1940s era radio broadcasts. We had Blackstone, the British magician crime sleuth, and we had Gunsmoke with Marshall Dillon, Miss Kitty, Chester and the whole gang. Lots of fun. Afterwards, the four of us dined in a casual local French bistro on Park Avenue.

It was delightful.

Sunday afternoon we visited daughter number one with husband and grandsons and that, in and of itself, was pretty wonderful. Also daughter number two with boyfriend came up as well. What made this particularly special was the fact that boyfriend popped the question. Yep! They’re engaged. As part of a back story, boyfriend drove out to meet us a few weeks ago where he took us out to dinner and asked for our permission for him to ask for our daughter’s hand in marriage.

Also, several years ago my mother gave her own engagement to my wife in order that it be placed in safe keeping for our daughter. Steve posed the question on Saturday night. Katie never mentioned a thing to us on Sunday. She just casually promenaded around her older sister’s house wearing the ring waiting for someone to notice. My wife noticed. Upon her immediate recognition, my wife gave a vocal response alerting the immediate neighborhood of her observation. It was wonderful. I am a very happy man.

On the other hand.

The Saturday night after the dinner and before our visit to daughter number one, we came back from New York to New Jersey on the New Jersey Path train that Saturday night. It was particularly crowded. There were a bunch of 15 and 16 year old overly boisterous kids. I thought nothing of it at first. But when the subway car’s motions found these kids bouncing back and forth in the car a bit too much and I found my phone on the floor as an immediate result, I thought this was not all that great. Then this overly friendly little girl decided she needed to desperately move to the middle of the car. A few minutes later at the next stop, a good Samaritan called out my name and handed my wallet to me. My credit cards were gone. I do not keep cash in my wallet and my driver’s license was not removed.

I was furious. I knew exactly what happened. This little girl jostled me and lifted my wallet. As she moved past me she rifled through the wallet, saw no cash took the credit cards and tossed the wallet. As she came back, she quickly handed off the credit cards to her comrades in arms.

I confronted them and told them to give them back. I got a lot of deer eyes in the headlights.

Nothing. For a good five minutes I controlled myself deciding that a physical confrontation would not only do me no good, it might actually bring me harm either in the immediate or future time frames. So instead of breaking limbs or choking life from young throats, I decided to get verbally abusive. Denials. I got the conductor involved. She got the police involved. The train’s doors were left open and the kids took their basic quick hike.

While the local authorities did what I was supposed the best they could do, the only thing they could do was leave me with a case number and the fact that the video associated with the train would be viewed.

The fact that I don’t have a prayer of seeing anything further come of this and the fact that the kids had a minor joy ride to the tune of forty bucks of McDonald’s finest, courtesy of my Discover card prior to its cancellation, is of really minor concern. Yes. I realized we were quite fortunate in that there was no physical injury involved. Yes. I realized that my Discover card will disavow the charges that were fraudulently placed upon it.

What concerns me more, and yes, we are talking in a present tense for the moment, is my tendency or ability to maintain a level headedness and, by so maintaining, assuming a reasonable or as logical an approach as possible.

And here is my quandary. I am hardly left with Hamlet’s dilemma. But there is a query remaining. Am I being too considerate? Is there such a thing? Do I genuinely appreciate the efforts of the police as they guhfuhmped their fat bellies our collective way unconcernedly down the stairs? Do I maintain my patience as I relate the story several different times the same way to the same people?

Probably.

Will I continue to assist strangers and extend courtesies? Not sure. My wife and I discussed this. She asked, “Don’t you feel better when you open a door for someone who needs help? Didn’t you feel good about yourself when you picked up that baby bottle for the lady with the baby carriage?”

My answer was, “No. This is what I do. This is a behavior that is as ingrained in me as the need to protect my grown children when they cross the street. This will not change.”

However, I do sincerely want that behavior to stop. I no longer want to smile at strangers and wish them a good morning. Since I do not feel any better for doing others little kindnesses, why should I bother? Also, what do I gain for dismissing vile prejudices against a people? Would it be better if I initially distrust a person because of their background and only include that person when they prove themselves worthy of my trust? Or do I adopt that posture towards everyone? If a train is too crowded, do I automatically assume the worst? If a train isn’t crowded enough, do I trust the few individuals within it?

No. I’m not considering becoming one of those assholes who enjoys cutting you off in traffic. Yes. I will probably allow you to get in front of me when you need to do a quick merge on to a highway. Just do me a favor when you do and give me brief wave. If you don’t you will be emblazoned with that seven letter description silently affixed to your rear license plate.

I suppose my behavior will generally go on unabated. However, many of the underpinnings defining this behavior will be made manifest, albeit only to myself. My phone will ride in my front pocket, not in a holder clipped to my belt. My wallet will no longer be kept in the rear pocket. It will either be in an inside jacket pocket, a front pocket or, some of the more valuable cards will ride the money clip along with the cash.

I know the expression ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy’ is overly used. And perhaps I am paying myself an undue complement. But any propensity I felt I’d harbored towards doing good deeds for my fellow travelers has been severely curtailed. I cannot help but feel the continued practice of over extending myself in the future is simply not in my best interests. This would necessarily translate myself into a gruffer and an even more intolerant me.