I’ve been a longtime listener of NPR (although of late I’ve come to think of those initials standing for National Palestine Radio rather than National Public Radio given their slanted reporting with respect to Israel). Anyway, every Wednesday morning they have a commentary by Frank Deford who has an alternate personality known as the Sports Curmudgeon (not to be confused with the other Sports Curmudgeon whose true identity escapes me) who periodically speaks on annoying things related to sports (professional, collegiate, and otherwise).

Recently, I’ve discovered that I have a Curmudgeon in me. Normally I’m an easy going individual. Live and let live has been my motto for a long time…I’ve never felt the need to impose my opinions on anyone. However, of late, I’ve been noticing things that have…well…annoyed me. At first I didn’t think much about it…but as time went on I’ve realized that inside of me was another “person” — someone who gets rankled seeing things that are just plain wrong and wants to say something. That is my Curmudgeon. I’ve finally decided to give him a voice…(in the style of Frank Deford):

On Sunday The Curmudgeon was running his morning run when he was passing by the entrance to the Northwest Branch Trail entrance on Kemp Mill Rd in Silver Spring. The Curmudgeon knows the Northwest Branch Trail quite well as he periodically runs along this trail as well as goes hiking on it. The trail is meant for foot traffic only – human or horse. There is an explicit sign at the entrance to the trail on Kemp Mill Road that states no bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed. As he was running by he noticed a silver mini-van parked near the entrance. The husband and wife had gotten out and had their dog with them as well and were getting ready to go on the trail. However, the part that really bothered The Curmudgeon was the fact that the husband and wife were on bikes and were standing right next to the entrance to the trail where the sign indicating that no bicycles are allowed on the trail was clearly on display. Perhaps they weren’t able to read the sign? No…the sign also included a symbol similar to the one below:

There’s a reason why bikes are not allowed on the Northwest Branch Trail. It’s a soft trail which gets torn up easily by the bike tires. The trail has been eroded to such a state where water now stands, breeding mosquitoes, on parts of the trail and people have taken to simply cutting a new trail around the pools of mud and water. It would be very hard not to understand the meaning of that sign The Curmudgeon thought but apparently these two individuals didn’t think that it applied to them.

But this is not the first time that he’s seen this behavior of people who think that the rules do not apply to them. Ok…The Curmudgeon lives in the Washington, D.C. area and he sees this kind of thing going on all the time with politicians…but of late he’s been seeing this sort of behavior more and more in the neighborhood where he lives. Whether it’s cyclists who think that trail restrictions don’t apply to them or people who water their lawns when there are mandatory water restrictions due to emergency work needing to be done on a major water pipe in the region – this behavior seems to becoming more and more prevalent. “Why?” asks The Curmudgeon. “We all have to live together and work together as a community. I follow the rules…why do others think that the rules don’t apply to them as well?” So The Curmudgeon gets rankled more and more when he continues to see examples of “law-abiding” people who are “law-abiding”…but only when it suits them. He shakes his head and laments the fact that in our society we see politicians, athletes, and entertainers consistently do things that break the rules and then get the all too easy “pass” on their actions…simply because of who they are. And this behavior is trickling down, in a pathetic imitation of the trickle-down economic theory so that even in a nice neighborhood such as his, people feel that they have the right to ignore the rules…when the rules get in the way of their doing what they want to do.