Saturday, June 10, 2017

Taking Responsibility

Once again, you could see the tracks on the lawn. A couple of days of rain had made the blades heavier, and so slower to bounce back from any intrusion. So as you walked up the driveway you could plainly see two tire-width stripes leaving the blacktop and cutting towards the road. I'm no forensic investigator, but to my untrained eye it sure looked like someone had taken a shortcut to the street.

The last time this happened was about 6 months ago. For regular readers of this space, you may recall our outrage when we woke up to find tire tracks cutting through the clearing between our neighbor's house and ours. Coming in the dawn hours, and finding our New York Times by the back door led us to assume that the carrier had taken a short cut from one driveway to the other. A call to the Times produced no satisfaction, with the response being unless we had a live web feed of it happening no blame could be affixed.

So we held out little hope for any greater satisfaction this time around. Indeed, we didn't even bother calling the paper and registering our displeasure. Since we didn't see this transgression until later in the day, our evidence was less ironclad. The tracks could have been made by the UPS guy or a mailperson or even a friend coming by, not withstanding none of those people came a callin'. Still, we had seen enough "Law & Order" episodes to know that this doubt was more than reasonable. We soothed ourselves with the fact that the lawn would recover in short order.

Still, it was a surprise to find the envelope paperclipped to the inside of the paper a day later. In it was a neatly printed single sheet of paper. The note was short, and to the point: "Dear Mr. & Mrs. Wollin. I want to express my sincere apology for having accidentally driven on your lawn on Monday morning. I was attempting to back out of your driveway, instead of turning around by your garage. It will not happen again. Sincerely, Your NY Times Carrier."

Now, I don't know if the person was man or woman, white or brown, old or young. I don't know their political affiliation, how big their family is, or how much schooling they have. And I don't know if it was the same person who sinned the last time. What I do know is that this person was willing to stand up and take responsibility for their actions. Seems like a no-brainer, I know.

But it turns out that at least in in our town, people with no brains are indeed on the loose. In a recent election for school board, a badly photocopied list of supposed transgressions by one candidate was put in mailboxes and circulated. Whether or not they were factual or not is beside the point; they were anonymous. Whomever the person or group was who wanted to get this particular information out there refused to sign their name and take responsibility. The candidate in question and his supporters would have been happy to challenge them. But how? To whom? Makes it hard to take them seriously. (BTW, he won the election anyway.)

And just this week, the same thing in a slightly different medium. Signs began appearing around town showing a kid hugging his knees next to backpack, with a slogan slamming teachers as greedy. I asked around; it's because the local school board and teachers' union are locked in contract negotiations. Again, you might or might not agree with the point of view. But with whom can you debate that? Since the posters are anonymous, the answer is nobody. Thankfully the town is taking them down, as they do nothing but take up space.

There are a lot of incredibly talented, successful and intelligent people out there with views counter to mine. And I'm fine with that. I count a number as friends, and we have lively discussions about the ways of world. But they stand behind their points of view by standing behind their points of view. They don't hide. Unfortunately that's not the case for all, such as the flyer photocopiers or the poster putter-uppers. For them, no-brainer is indeed the correct descriptor. Maybe our paper delivery guy could teach them a thing or two. Just not about driving.


Marc Wollin of Bedford signs his name to what he writes. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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