The point is that there has been a loss of civility because our public employees are now more interested in us as targets for feeding the public coffers than being public servants. (You probably have many of your own stories which we would love to hear.) But ifthere was any doubt in your mind, read the following story told to me by a friend and you will be floored.
He was leaving a post office when he felt a sharp pain down his arm and shortness of breath. He had enough understanding to realize he might be having a heart attack. He was one-half mile from a major hospital and decided he would head straight there. After waiting for traffic to clear he made a U-turn and began heading to the hospital, but he was stopped by a police car. When the officer came over to him, the suffering soul informed the officer he thought he was experiencing a heart attack. He asked the officer to drive him to the hospital knowing that the first minutes of a heart attack can be crucial to survival. The officer spoke only of the poor fellow’s U-turn. When my friend insisted his life was in danger, the policeman called for paramedics. As the paramedics were going through their procedures, the officer stood there and wrote the patient a traffic ticket and handed it to him. The paramedics were stupefied.
What happened to civility? What happened to public servants? What happened to common decency? We don’t believe these incidents are isolated. We believe they happen every day --multiple times a day. Whether it is regarding filings for permits, sales taxes collections or interactions like my friend, you have to wonder what these people are thinking. We, the public, are hard pressed for monies and feel overtaxed. But our public employees, who make more on average in salaries and benefits than the general public, want to get their bite of the apple no matter what. Yes, our interests are at crosscurrents.
The battle continues. After this column was completed, we stopped in front of a U.S. mailbox. With the car still running we exited the car, put the mail in the box and got back in the car. The entire process took fifteen seconds - no joke. As we got back in the car a parking meter person rode up on a bike and started to issue a parking ticket. We called the Mayor of the City of West Hollywood to see if this is what he thought the mission of his city was in regards to his taxpayers.
That will be answered soon, but it is clear that common courtesy and civility are gone. We are largely at war with our own employees. They are certainly no longer public servants. That term has become passé. We live in a coarse culture where everyone is out for themselves.