On Entitlement

Puff and I were out walking along the sea wall the other day, looking suspiciously like a cute lesbian couple in our accidentally matching outfits* and talking about nothing in particular, when we ran into a sleekly dressed and groomed representative of the yuppie establishment. He looked rather miffed and out of breath, and I moved slightly to the left to yield to him.

“Excuse me,” he said.

“Ah,” we said.

“Uhm, do you hike here a lot?”

“We walk out here a fair amount, yeah.”

“Is it only open on the weekends, or what? This trail?”

“Uhm, no, it’s open year round. Access isn’t usually restricted unless there’s a problem.”

“Ah, it’s just, you see, they closed off our parking lot. At the windiest time of year!”

We fixed with polite blank stares, which did not exactly scream “tell us more,” but he did anyway.

“We’re wind surfers, you see. And that’s our parking lot.”

“Oh well, actually,” I said, “part of the seawall was blocked off recently because of the environmental remediation. They are digging up the back yards of some of the houses and removing toxins, so they put up blockades to protect people. You know, from dust?”

“But they blocked off our parking lot.”

“Well, sir, actually,” I said, my patience beginning to wear thin, “all of this land is the property of the United States Government, and like the sign says, people on it have to comply with Federal officials. They probably blocked off the lot because they are using it for vehicle storage, and since the vehicles are processing toxic materials, they want to make sure no one from the public is exposed.”

“But it’s our parking lot!”

“Er, well, have a nice day,” we said, continuing along our way and chortling.

I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I frequently adventure in places I’m not supposed to, including, actually, that very same forbidden parking lot. But I do so with a certain amount of fatalism, well aware of the potential consequences for violating clearly posted no trespassing signs. I certainly do not feel like it’s my “right” to be anywhere on the Island. I also feel like the Navy does a pretty good job of saying “hey, seriously, don’t go in here, it’s really dangerous/contaminated” when they really strongly feel that people shouldn’t be there, as is the case with the parking lot in question. (I ended up there on accident with Brendan, and we had a hell of a time getting out again.)

I’m not really a poster child for regulatory compliance, but I really hate entitlement. The fact of the matter is that we are not entitled to everything we want, especially on Federal property. If you don’t like that, you might want to take steps to change it, but bitching about it pretty much fails to impress me. There’s clear signage on the Island indicating that people enter at their own risk, and that the land belongs to the Federal government, not the City of San Francisco. (Although, damnit, we are part of San Francisco. The next person who says we’re not gets my considerably sized ass planted on their hydrangeas. We are in District Six, we vote, and we are active members of the San Francisco community. Also, need I remind you of how easy it would be for us to prevent you from crossing your precious Bay Bridge?)

When you’re a guest somewhere, you don’t always get what you want. That’s kind of a fact of life.

I feel like this sense of entitlement reigns supreme in American society more so than any other. Perhaps this is because I am steeped in American culture, but it does seem to be a very American thing, this idea that we get what we want, when we want it. Aside from being uncouth and untrue, it takes all the fun out of things. Where’s the challenge in life if I always get what I want? Personally, I relish the thrill of the chase, or lawbreaking as the case may be. I don’t really understand why parents are raising such selfish little brats that our entire society is turning into a “me me me want want want” culture, but I find it rather repulsive. Especially when grown men bitch about not getting what they want.

And as for whiny yuppies who want to complain about “their” windsurfing spot…well…life’s a bitch. But you have options:

1. Find somewhere else to wind surf. I see wind surfers off Angel all the time, for example.

2. Break in to your precious parking lot and enjoy.

3. Deal.

*This actually happens a lot, and we have no rational explanation for it. Lesbian couple we are not, but the neighbors could be forgiven for thinking it.