Not having it

I’m not sure if it’s a function of aging or a perhaps related loss of patience, but I find myself much more willing to confront situations head on than I may have been in the past. When I observe behavior which is detrimental to a community, completely self centered or simply uncivilized, I’ve had it. I’m calling it out.

In the last few weeks there have been a number of occasions when my newfound ability to be confrontational has been on display. Like when I spoke to the man who lives down the block from me about his dumping of furniture in a public park at the end of our street. That situation turned out really well – he removed the trash and has since become someone with whom I exchange greetings when we encounter one another.

That’s good, right?

I don’t expect the same outcome from the guy in the BMW SUV with whom I had words the other afternoon on State Street in Center Square. I needed to pick up a bottle of wine and was looking for reasonably close parking space. I spied one on the left side of the street, about midway down the block. Unfortunately, I couldn’t actually access the space because Mr. BMW was blocking it by double parking.

I’m not going to lie – this is a total pet peeve of mine. I mean, if you’re holding a valid driver’s license, you’ve demonstrated an ability to parallel park at least once in your life. Why the f*ck can’t you continue exercising your skills instead of preventing both the easy passage of traffic on a somewhat narrow street and someone from actually making use of a vacant space?

I’m done with selfish and thoughtless behavior. After parking a bit further down the block, I walked over to the guy and, through his closed window, asked him if he knew how to parallel park. He sputtered something about how he was only going to be there for a few minutes, to which I responded that he “should go back to the suburbs.”

Maybe the next time he comes into an area without driveways or garages, he’ll reconsider his laziness.

I’ve gone back into the yoga studio after practicing at home for an extended time because of Covid caution. I’m really enjoying being in that hot community space for classes again, other than the trend I’ve noticed – cell phones in the studio. In case you’re as unaware as those insistent upon bringing their phones into a yoga studio, yoga is both a physical and mental activity that involves mindfulness. There are signs posted outside each of the studios stating to leave phones outside of the yoga space, and to avoid conversation while on one’s mat.

Perfectly reasonable, if you ask me. Part of the appeal of being in a dark, hot studio is the escape from distractions. It’s easier to focus. Unless, of course, someone is nearby scrolling through their device prior to, or even in the midst of, class. It’s crazy.

On the occasions when I’ve encountered this lack of civility, I’ve fumed quietly. I’ve done my best to “stay on my mat,” but it hasn’t been easy. My struggle to keep my attention exclusively within the confines of my rectangular mat, was real. After class, on each occasion, I’ve spoken privately to the class instructor about the situation and my challenge in getting past it. Without exception, they’ve promised to be more vigilant about the presence of devices (damn you, Apple watches) and to remind yogis that electronics don’t belong in the studio.

Honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to bring one with them to class. It seems completely contrary to the entire practice.

For a number of years, I had a side hustle taking photos of people at events for a local organization. I believe I provided quality pictures (they continued to offer me opportunities) for which they financially compensated me. Between the pandemic and my public criticism of the quality of the digital version of this newspaper, this revenue stream dried up, which was fine. I don’t need the money and my time is pretty valuable, at least to me.

On occasion, I get approached directly by organizations, mostly not-for-profits, with requests to take photos at various events. If my schedule allows, I’m happy to donate my time to capture these social and athletic events. I consider it a mitzvah of sorts.

When I was being paid by the newspaper, my photos were seen by literally thousands of people, earning advertising revenue, I imagine, to the host platform of the photo gallery. Organizations also appreciated the widespread exposure these photos garnered for their group or occasion. It was a win-win-win for all involved.

Recently, I was asked if I could take photos at a fundraising event that I like to support. I already had my weekend plans in place, so I reached out to a contact at the newspaper to see if they might have someone to help out the group and capture the event with pictures. I was told they didn’t have anyone available and that finding photographers for these sort of events was very difficult. I responded with an offer to alter my plans and shoot the photos that particular weekend, and possibly on future occasions, with compensation.

The response? Crickets.

So, I guess what they’re really saying is that they are having trouble finding people to take time to attend and photograph events, using their own personal equipment, edit and upload the shots, again on their own equipment, for a photo credit (potentially, my last photo collection was n’t credited to me, but instead to a staffer) on their (crappy) website for free.

Cry me a river. I’m not willing to work without compensation for a privately held corporation that one of America’s wealthiest families owns. Screw them and screw that. I did, however, rearrange my day so I could attend and photograph the race gratis. I had a great time and delivered 175 pictures to the group and told them they could do whatever they wanted to do with the pictures – other than share them with that newspaper, of course.

Because, even though I’m at times confrontational and lacking in tolerance for the poor behavior of others, I’m fundamentally trying to be a good person. Are you?

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