A False Sense of Entitlement

Something has been annoying me more and more in recent years – which is surprising, given the number of things that annoy me on a regular basis. People. People with a false sense of entitlement.

While cycling to work this morning, a parent on the school run stopped in the middle of a busy road, on yellow hatchings that mean “do not stop here under any circumstances”, and stopped a line of traffic behind them in order to drop their child off directly outside the gates of the school opposite. If the police had seen it they would have had words, I am sure.

Perhaps a quarter of a mile further along the road, a Jaguar reversed out of one of the millionaire houses on the periphery of town, and drove the wrong way along the main road – head on into the oncoming traffic – until he forced his way onto the right side of the road. If a policeman had seen it he would have probably banned him from driving. As he drove away, an arm wrapped in an expensive shirt waved a “thankyou” to everybody that had lunged for their brakes. And here I was thinking thanks were given in return for something given – not something taken.

While at a dinner party a little while ago there was a disagreement at the dinner table that I found myself caught in the middle of. This one needs a bit of back story first though.

There are two schools in the town. One is elitist grammar school with an entrance exam – the other is a state school and accepts any child. Traditionally the grammar school has had private donors that afford it better facilities than the state school. Whenever other schools in town request the use of the facilities, in the past it has pretty much come down to the principal asking “what’s in it for us?”. Not exactly community spirited. It doesn’t help that the entrance exam causes a division between the parents and children, and causes property prices to inflate around the school – which in turn causes the town to skew towards wealthy or elitist parents.

Anyway. It just so happens that the state school sold some of it’s land recently, and along with massive injections of cash from the government to turn it into an “academy”, has built world class sporting facilities – you name it, they have it. Row upon row of running machines, rowing machines, fully equipped weights rooms, dance studios, heated and floodlit sports fields… it’s stunning.

Guess what – suddenly the grammar school wants to send their children to use the facilities of the state school for free. Suddenly they want the state school to be “community spirited”, to “share”. Suddenly they feel the state school should be forced to share.

While cycling into town to pick up something for lunch today (because we ran out of bread), I got stuck on the pavement behind an old man. An old man cycling on the pavement. An old man cycling on the pavement with no helmet, no coat, and no socks on (bearing in mind that I had a coat, a waterproof,  and gloves on – it was only just above freezing this morning). I walked along behind him – along with a rapidly forming queue for about 20 yards. He had no idea at all that any of us were there. I started to wonder how he continue cycling at such a slow speed – perhaps he had been a trapeze artist in a former life? No doubt he also drives below the speed limit wherever he goes, because he always wanted to lead a parade…It’s not the first time recently that I’ve found myself stuck behind somebody. On the way to work yesterday a car was driving through the suburban roads at just above running pace. I slowed behind it for a while, and (shaking my head) resigned myself to just going more slowly than normal. Enter sports car stage left. A saloon car came swooping past me – obviously late for his next accident – and tailgated the car for a few bends in the road before completely losing the plot, and pulling out to pass on a blind bend – leading to the inevitable near-accident as a school run parent came hurtling round the corner to meet them both head-on.

I slowed to a stop, and stared wide eyed at the scene unfolding in front of me. What is it with people? What is it that makes them think they are entitled to do whatever they want, to get whatever they want, or to use whatever they want ?

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