Thursday, October 8, 2009

Double Standards, and a Sense of Entitlement...

I'm sure I noticed this before I was a police officer, but it's much more pronounced now.

The vast majority of the general public seems to suffer from a severe sense of entitlement, and as a result, they tend to set double standards.

Most of these people will change their opinion of the law or a given situation to suit their needs at the time. If they are the pedestrian, they have the right of way regardless of their position in relation to the crosswalk. If they are the driver, then the pedestrian should have been in the crosswalk.

If they are rear ended, the other driver was following them too closely. If they rear end someone, the other driver hit the brakes too hard.

This phenomenon regularly manifests itself on our highways in the form of tail-gaters. I regularly see people making gestures at the person behind them for following too closely, all the while jamming on brakes, exactly matching the speed of the car next to them, or trying to box the tail-gater in. Then a few miles down the road, the former tail-gatee can be found riding someone else's ass, flashing high-beams, honking horns and gesturing at that person to move out of the way.

Another common one in these parts is lane changes. If you signal a lane change, the vehicle you are trying to get in front of will commonly speed up to block you out. At the same time, if you DON'T signal your lane change, so you CAN get in front of that car, they will honk, gesture and yell at you for not signaling your lane change to give them an opportunity to speed up and block you out.

But don't dare return the favor of the gesture, or road rage will certainly ensue!

Another one that reared its ugly head in court today was where I sit when I'm working speed enforcement. My first case, the defendant complained that I was hiding, and that it wasn't fair because if she had seen me she would have checked her speed. She said I should have been out in the open. Then she had a case with an officer from another agency (that should have been the first clue she was a shitty driver), and she complained that she couldn't have been speeding because she saw the officer sitting on the side of the road. Make up my mind lady.

Any time someone is involved in a collision, feels slighted by another driver or gets stopped by me for one of the above mentioned violations, it's always the other person's fault. Then, if I try to tell them otherwise it becomes MY fault. When did people forget how to take responsibility for their own actions?

Is it because modern parents give kids everything they want? Is it because we tell our kids there are no losers, we are all winners? When they lose the soccer game, they are told they are still winners. What's the point of playing the damned game?

If you always win, you'll never know what to do when you finally lose...


P. said...

I think you hit the tip of the iceberg with your last paragaph. Welcome to the Entitlement Generation. It starts with Mommy and Daddy, oh, say, not setting boundaries, teaching right from wrong (there is no wrong, you see), not teaching any personal responsiblity (NO! Anything but that!), or morals, or ethics.

You see it in law enforcement. A friend who works in a hospital sees it in the frequent fliers (dependent on health insurance funded by the public) visiting the emergency room for very definitely not life-threatening issues, when they could have easily gone to a doctor, saving us taxpayers some expense, but hey! They're not paying, the system is there for the using, so they're entitled to use it as they see fit.

I see it in higher education, where I work. Junior or Junior Miss screws up, so Mommy or Daddy visits campus officials to get their ADULT child out of trouble that s/he would not have gotten into if s/he been raised with ethics and such.

Yesterday I came upon a doozy of a situation. An instructor and student were having a disagreement. The student had taken an exam online; when finished, she had to click a button to submit it. She received a second, "Are you sure you want to submit?" prompt, and she clicked yes. Then she realized she hadn't answered some questions, so she wanted to take the test over again.

The instructor asked my opinion (I work at this institution), in front of the girl, and I said no, I wouldn't allow her to take the test again, especially since, as the instructor pointed out, the answers were given on screen after the 2nd, final submission click. Then she got angry because he said if he did allow her to take the exam over, it'd be a different exam, and it would be an essay exam. It wasn't fair, according to the student. WTF?! She was too irresponsible to complete her exam and follow instructions, as everyone else did, and she expected special treatment?

And DON'T get me started on faculty entitlement.

tart said...

One of the things ive noticed in tyhe USA (well New york and florida) is that you dont seem to make a distinction between, lanes for over taking and lanes for driving in, in the UK (rember we drive on the left, so it would be reversed in the USA) you always overtake on the right hand lane, and then attempt to move back into the left hand lane when you have cleared the slower traffic, do you think this would work in the usa?
also, its a fantastic blog.

S A Hammond

CJC said...

Great blog. I've been reading it for a couple of months now. I like your insights and this one is spot on.

I just got back from Iraq in June. After 21 years in the Army I've come to the same conclusion - most younger soldiers, and a lot of older ones too, have that same sense of entitlement. I am amazed what these younger soldiers THINK they're entitled to just because they are alive and breathing.

At the same time, an E-6 that worked for me thought he was entitled to his own room just because of his rank. We had 1LT's sharing rooms but this E-6 felt entitled to have his own. Hell, I almost didn't get my own room and I'm a CW2. He also felt that Uncle Sam should pay extra for him to have a smoker's hotel room. Sorry pal, Uncle Sam is generous but not that generous.

I see it every day and it sickens me. You're not the only one...

Front Porch Society said...

Sounds like the drivers there are just like our drivers here. Small world full of crappy drivers, huh!

!!!HonigBehr said...

This is right on Officer Smith. I was just talking to my dad about this very sense of entitlement. It is the very thing that has gotten us into this economic crisis in the first place.

I know I'm guilty of it too, but I'm really going to try and ditch the false sense of entitlement that adversely effects all parts of our lives.

Great insights sir. The rules apply to us all equally and we are not princesses or Jedis.

Lawrence Kansas

WW said...

Yeah, people suck. 90% of the time, I am the pedestrian, I do walk against the light and jaywalk, but only if the raod is clear. I live in a college town and most of the students think they are allowed to walk in front of cars and the cars have to slow down or stop for them.
My brother gave that same sort of excuse to our family a couple of years when he was driving somewhere. The cop that pulled us over didn't have lights on top, so after he got the ticket, my brother complained that if the cop had lights he would have checked his speed and slowed down. I hate people that give those excuses.

Brian said...

I'm a traffic enforcement Trooper in Texas and trust me, it's the same here. It's because everyone is the hero of their own story. If you could merely see it from their perspective then SURELY you would give THEM the benefit of the doubt.

Keep on educating the ignorant!

Officer "Smith" said...


That is the accepted rule here as well, to move back into the right hand lane after passing.

It would be nice if I wasn't the only one who still lived by that one though...

Triple Beeper said...

Right you are. And I feel like we're walking a line by trying to teach our kids basic courtesy; I don't want them to get run over by all the bastards who will try to push them out of the way, either!

HonkingAntelope said...

Like it or not, in modern America people who put their needs and wants above everyone else's tend to succeed far more often than the people who don't. Hence the expression 'nice guys always finish last.' Sadly, the people with an overly inflated sense of entitlement do get their way in life often enough (traffic stops being a very notable exception) to support and grow that kind of attitude.

As for traffic stuff, my spirited driving style and an average of 50 miles of driving per weekday over the last couple years certainly yielded a treasure trove worth' of stories.

The one that really stands out is the jackass in a dark green 1998-2006 Audi TT whom I've encountered twice on SR-237 w/b.

One morning, I was driving in lane #2 of SR-237 w/b and encountered an offset rolling roadblock. The green Audi TT was in lane #2 directly ahead of me, another vehicle was in lane #3 2-3 car lengths behind the Audi in #2, and #1 was completely jammed. There was PLENTY of space in front of the vehicle in #3. As I watched the tail lights and the trunk on the vehicle in front of the Audi (it was visible through the audi's windows) for signs of sudden braking, I proceeded to close in on the Audi and began to signal my intent to make a right lane change.

As I was about to turn my steering wheel, I saw the Audi slam HARD on the brakes, confirmed by the Audi's rear rising noticeably due to weight transfer. After I banged out a quick evasive maneuver to the right, I saw that there was ample space in front of the Audi, and I didn't see any vehicles from #1 cutting it off.

It only gets better after I accelerated to match my position with the Audi so I could flip the finger to its driver for pulling a stunt like that. As I came by on its right side, the driver proceeded to repeatedly flick his steering wheel to the right in order to play chicken. I wasn't going to budge and decided to just pass that idiot and get on my way.

Lo and behold, the guy decides to start chasing and tailgating me, as well. I decided 'what the hell...' and accelerated. After I got to about 85 or 90mph, the Audi passed me and proceeded to weave through traffic at 90mph whenever the conditions permitted it, with me keeping up about 1/4mi behind. Eventually the Audi took an exit, we flipped each other off one last time, and I was on my way.

Honestly, I'm all for a little bit of good-natured horseplay here and there as long as it doesn't endanger anybody else, but that guy seemed blow his top. What I don't understand is if you have no problem with skittering through traffic at 90mph whenever the conditions permit it, why do you have to get your undies in a twist over someone tailgating you for all of 2 seconds while passing another vehicle?

Mad Jack said...

I hate being tailgated. Another driver is threatening me with their (generally larger) vehicle so as to get me to comply with their whim. I especially hate being tailgated on the highway - speed kills.

If traffic tickets and accidents are an indication of driving safety, I'd like to see more people riding the bus.