According to the FreeYourMindandThink page, pluralistic ignorance is when during an emergency, the more bystanders there are, the less likely it is that any of them will actually help. They assume nothing is wrong because nobody else looks concerned. S/he further goes on to explain that there is a process during each of which they can:
(1) Decide to do nothing.
(2) Notice the event (or in a hurry and not notice).
(3) Realize the emergency (or assume that as others are not acting, it is not an emergency).
(4) Assume responsibility (or assume that others will do this).
(5) Know what to do (or not)
(6) Act (or worry about danger, legislation, embarrassment, etc.)And by and large, this writer tends to agree. The average
Americans are far too self-absorbed and oblivious to notice much of anything these days, especially if it did not happen to appear in the news feed of their social networking page. But, much to my astonishment, yours truly recently had an experience that defies the general convention of the above referenced mindset.
Just this past weekend, I had been wanting to snail mail an important document to go out in Monday’s post. Because four of the five mail clusters with outgoing mail slots on the property where I live had been vandalized, this necessitated a hike over to the one that had not been molested. No matter, I would just hop on my bike and peddle over there. The trip would take approximately 15 minutes or slightly less depending on how long I futzed around outside.
I lifted my bike over the short patio wall, the heavy duty shock absorber in the tail making the rear tire bounce a little as I set it down. Then I hopped over the wall myself. I was walking the bike down the two concrete steps to the sidewalk when I heard the soft whoosh of a door opening behind me. It was an unfamiliar neighbor carrying an empty blue bottle of vodka, presumably on his way over to the recycle bin. Strange to be making a special trip for a single item (or so I thought) but, I greeted him, nonethess. I then saddled up, and, was on my way to the mailbox. Because the afternoon was cold and gloomy, and I was wearing shorts, there would be a lot more peddling and a lot less futzing.
With the wind gusting and threatening rain any moment, when I got to within twenty-five feet of my destination, I reached down into the front pocket of my fleece hood where I had tucked the envelope before I left the house only to find that it was gone. It must have slipped out at some point. No matter, I would just re-trace my path. I was confident I would find the envelope.
But for vodka bottle neighbor, I hadn’t seen another soul outside on this stormy day, so it wasn’t likely that any errant child would have picked it up and taken off with it much like what had happened to a neighbor that I’m content to call Fast Eddie. Eddie has mobility problems and gets around in a wheelchair, and, one fine day, he had left it sitting alongside his parking space after he pivot-transferred into the driver’s seat. And when he returned, his chair was gone. Who the hell steals a wheelchair, you may ask? Depraved children, that’s who. But I digress.
I doubled-back several times over my tracks scrutinizing every scrap of paper and crumpled tissue lying in the street, but the envelope was nowhere to be found. Sigh. Someone must have recovered it and who even knows what they would do with it. Probably the same thing that was done with the outgoing mail when the vandals broke into the receptacles. Thieves take mail looking for anything they can make work in their favor –from gift cards and social security numbers to altering a check that they can then make out to themselves. Whether theft is perpetrated by postal employees or strangers in your ‘hood, the Federal Trade Commission and Office of the Inspector General websites are full of complaints about stolen mail, particularly government-issued checks.
On the last double-back effort, I had just about resigned myself into accepting that my mail was lost to the pitiless, concrete clutches of the macadam (or some nefarious neighbor) when I noticed something sticking out of the outgoing mail slot in the cluster of mailboxes closest to my unit. It looked like it could be a brown edged envelope like my missing piece of mail. Evidently, this receptacle had since been repaired, but I didn’t know that else I would not have gone to the other side of the property.
I was prepared to be disappointed because those dark clouds directly overhead aren’t strictly limited to rain cloud phenomena; The misfortune they almost always seem to auspicate for me never miss an opportunity to piss on my head, and, this day was not an exception. As I neared the mail slot, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but holy fuckin’ shit. It was my envelope!
Turns out every five hundred years or so, things go my way. Some good Samaritan had evidently picked it up from the street, and, walked it over to the mailbox for me. And while this lone, fluke event won’t change a lifetime’s worth of accumulated misanthropic opinions of my fellow humans in any substantive way, it’s still pleasant, nonetheless, to be reminded that not everyone is a bag of douche. There may yet be hope for the planet.
©2012 Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.