by Giselle Renarde
I wish I'd written this post when I was in a bad mood, because writing it now is going to destroy my good mood and I thoroughly enjoy a good mood.
As I've mentioned before, I grew up in an impoverished neighbourhood. Now I live in an affluent neighbourhood. Does that mean I'm rich? HAHAHA no. It means I moved here when the rental market was in the crapper. I got lucky.
When you transition from an area populated by poor people to one that's populated by rich people (many of them "old money"), you notice a lot of behavioural differences. I've lived here 12 years and I'm still shocked, constantly, by the arrogance and entitlement I see around me. I hope I'll always be shocked by it, because the moment I don't notice it I've become ONE OF THEM, god help me.
It's one thing for me to say people around here don't think rules apply to them--that doesn't exactly paint a picture. Let me paint you a picture. Let me use the local cemetery as my canvas.
I'm not a religious person (I'm not even a person with a religion), but I do believe we have a social responsibility to preserve the sanctity of spaces that possess a spiritual importance to a great many people.
The cemetery in my neighbourhood has a history of being used as somewhat of a public space, so you're going to find people jogging, cycling, (unicycling, practicing the bagpipes) along the pathways. I'm usually there to walk, although I often stop and say hello to a family friend whose memorial plaque is there.
For the first 130 years of this cemetery's existence, no dogs were permitted on the property. I need to restrain myself because I could easily rant about the exasperatingly entitled nature of the dog owners in my neighbourhood (who truly believe leash laws don't apply to their dogs), but despite their socio-economic heft I never imagined they'd get the cemetery to back down and changed the dog policy. As it now stands, leashed dogs are permitted within the grounds on paved pathways only.
Do you think that stops people from letting their dogs loose like this is some giant off-leash paradise? Or leading their pooches directly to convenient headstones and ENCOURAGING their pets to piss and shit all over graves?
The first time I witnessed this, I almost threw up. I was scandalized by the sheer disregard for what a final resting place represents--not just to the spirit or soul of the departed (if applicable--I don't know what goes on after death), but to the spirit AND the soul of the cemetery itself, not to mention the memory of that individual and the regard their living friends and family members still hold for them.
Is it really too much to ask people not to allow (much less encourage!) their dogs to shit on people's graves? Really?
I'm describing only the beginnings of the bad behaviour I see. A couple weeks ago it was a pair of fancy-ass cyclists in fancy-ass cycling outfits that probably cost more than I pay in rent. We're not talking about kids, here. Teenagers get a bad rap, but I don't want you thinking these were young people. The were grown-ass adults.
Anyway, I guess they're ready for a break so they hop off their bikes, smoke some pot and crank the tunes to full-blast on their awful tinny radio--all while leaning against a sign that reads: QUIET ZONE. PLEASE RESPECT THE GRIEVING.
I could go on. I could tell you about the jogger who spotted the lush green grass on one grave and decided that was the perfect place to take off his shirt and do a bunch of sit-ups. Lord Almighty, I apologize profusely any time I'm forced to step anywhere near someone's grave. Yes, I apologize to their spirit or soul or whatever it may be--out of respect. I can't imagine being the kind of person who does a goddamn exercise routine on someone's grave. You're not at the gym, asshole! This is a fucking cemetery!
Now I feel really complainy. I just see so much entitlement every time I leave the house (or look out my window) and I have this policy of being non-confrontational at the cemetery. My sisters call me a New Yorker because I'm always yelling at people on the street (it's not as crazy as it sounds--they're usually trying to run me over with their cars). I get very argumentative when I see people who lack the fundamentals of respect, but NOT losing my shit on strangers is my way of respecting the grieving.
Trust me, it ain't easy.