Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Human Nature

the entrance to Tomorrowland.  Photo by John Blocher
"It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." - Anne Frank, July 15, 1944

Once in a while, something happens to prove to me, yet again, that people are not always kind or generous, and that they don't always do the right thing. Sometimes they act out of selfishness or even malice. The ethical, loving, compassionate choice is discarded, even scoffed at.

For example, a month or two ago, one of my co-workers had her truck stolen from the same employee parking lot I'm assigned to but seldom use. She has not gotten the truck back, and probably never will.

And, on Christmas Day, someone found my Sprint phone in Tomorrowland, kept it, and used it.

One of these incidents is a major crime, the "Grand Theft Auto" of gaming fame. (Whether it's a good idea to base games on such crimes is a subject I won't debate here.) The theft of cars, trucks and SUVs is a major problem in Tucson. Even my 1984 New Yorker, which belonged to my mom and is in lousy shape, was once a target of would-be thieves. I came out to the driveway one morning several years ago, got into the car, went to put my key in the ignition to drive to work - and discovered that the metal part the key goes into was missing. Someone had popped it off with a screwdriver, and probably attempted to use the screwdriver to start the car. I don't know whether the thieves failed and gave up, or were scared away by dogs or human neighbors.

The more recent incident is a petty thing. Around noon I checked my voicemail, and apparently did not return the phone as securely to my purse or pocket as I should have. Then I went off to use my Fastpass for Space Mountain. It was wonderful. The kid in the row ahead of me asked me whether the ride was fun, and I assured him that it was. Not only did I enjoy the heck out of the ride myself after that, but I really enjoyed watching and listening to the kid's delighted reaction during and after the ride.

But by the time I connected with John afterward, the phone was gone. I checked with Disneyland cast members at Space Mountain, and a rest room attendent, and the park's lost and found office, but the phone did not turn up.

Today I called Sprint, which was closed on Sunday for obvious reasons. Someone had used the phone after my call to voicemail. They called Anaheim, and Van Nuys, and even Arizona. I was well below my minutes allowance, and Sprint won't be charging me for the unauthorized calls, so the damage is minimal. But I'm out the $85 replacement cost for the phone. The service has been suspended, so the person who kept the phone won't be able to use it again.

When he found out I'd lost the phone, John was immediately worried that I'd be on the hook for phone calls made by whoever found it. I thought this was silly. I figured that a Disney cast member would find it, and I'd get it back. (They mail recovered items to guests for free, by the way.) And if another Disneyland guest found it, they'd turn it in. After all, Disneyland is a place for families, for values of kindness and bravery and imagination, all that good stuff. Nobody who loves Disneyland would act like a thief, pocket my cell phone and run up the bill. Would they?

Well, yeah. They would, at least potentially.

But I can't live as though I think people are basically selfish and rotten, cruel and callous, like in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. (Boy, I hate that book!) Most of the time, people are pretty nice, especially if they aren't caught up in their own problems, and if the kindness doesn't cost them significant time or money. Judi has told a few stories of Christmas kindnesses, and there are more whether those came from. I have to believe that people are mostly good, that only a few are truly cruel, and that the rest of the bad behavior is mostly due to inattentiveness, ignorance or selfishness.

If I expect people to be nice and behave accordingly, usually people will respond well. I'm seldom disappointed, and it makes things more pleasant for everyone.

But once in a while, someone somewere lets me down.



DesLily said...

I almost hate to say what i am going to say, but as I read your post it popped right into my mind.

Long ago I worked for Sears in florida.."customer service" area. Right acrossed from where i was, was a hidden room with many televisions and the security sat inside watching the cameras.

After working for sears a few years and becoming friends with the security folks I began to distrust most people. And it was a very hard thing to get over. Watching them steal, buy things use them and return them, all the while lying about using them , etc I was floored to say the least.. and it really took years for me to come to grips with.. I'm better now, and like you.. i only look for how someone treats me.. and try not to look beyond that.

I'm glad to say that trusting most has returned to me.. but i wonder if it is ever the same for those who do things like security work, the police etc.. ??

Sorry to get off on the topic so much! lol..
Hey.. I hope the coming year is one of your best yet!! Have a happy Karen!

Laura said...

you and I are , sadly, unique souls. We see the good in people and in all that is around us. Sometimes this does burn us but, overall we and those around us reap the blessings of such optimism. Don't lose this gift.
Sorry for the phone loss but it sounds like Disneyland was truly magical.....Christmas 1992 was my first time there, at age 30, and yes, it was so magical.
Merry christmas and Happy New Year!

Becky said...

I am another one who thinks people are fundamentally good (until they aren't). I'm curious. Did you try calling your own cell number to see if anyone answered? Someone I know did that when they lost their phone. The person who picked it up DID answer it. LOL! Apparently, they were on their way to mall security to turn it in.