Lack of Common Sense and Discretion: A Society Victimized by Rules and the Idiots who Enforce Them

Crawdaddy’s Anger (Part One in an Unlimited Part Series) – By Matthew Crawford 

It is move-out week at Villanova. Campus is swarmed with the cars of parents, eager to get their children packed up and home before they have to hit rush-hour traffic on the highways.  To make matters worse, South Campus, where the great majority of students rely on parents for end of the year transportation home, does not have nearly enough parking. At the height of the moving out, it is absolute chaos. So as I look out my window, a car parked up on the grass or slanted on a curb is not an uncommon sight.

But what has also become a common sight and also a disturbing occurrence is Villanova Public Safety officers giving those cars not parked in parking spaces tickets. Yes, the car is violating policy. Yes, you have nothing better to do with your time on the job, sitting in your brand new Ford SUV. But hey, I would much rather have you getting donuts at Dunkin Donuts right down Lancaster Avenue like a normal cop than giving cars tickets. It is a nuisance to those who gets tickets, it annoys me who is watching from my window and it is downright foolish. Can’t you give parking tickets a break on a day where there are sure to be parking violations as a result of a lack of parking? Or does Villanova give their officers a quota? I sure hope not, because that would be even more wrong.

This occurrence has given me a chance to vent about a common occurrence in society. People who’s job is to enforce rules (especially impractical ones) think that they have power. They commonly take advantage of such rules to make themselves feel like they are doing their jobs well. Take lifeguards for example. Its a cloudy day at the beach, no more than 80 degrees. No one is in the water and very few are actually on the beach. A child is throwing small rocks into the water. Of course, the lifeguard blows the whistle and admonishes the poor little child who should not really feel as if he was doing something wrong.

Some rules are to protect people and keep them safe. Others are to maintain social order and discipline. Most rules have good intentions. I worked on a ferry boat for 4 years and have been yelled at an called a “kill-joy” by rich, snotty mothers from Greenwich for telling their children to stop climbing and standing on the benches, especially those which line the side of the boat. I am not a kill-joy. I just don’t want a child falling either overboard (which has happened) or, in a more likely scenario, one of those evil mothers suing my town for a child cutting his leg while climbing on benches on the ferry. (law suits get me even more angry and will be addressed in my next edition of Crawdaddy’s Anger)

But common sense and discretion must be used in enforcing rules. Rules do not take the place of common sense. Common sense and discretion should be the judges of when rules should be enforced. So Public Safety, on a day when no other parking spots are available, lets use common sense, let minor violations slide and try not to get people even more annoyed and aggravated for petty reasons. 

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