Equus Africanus Asinus
The Pestilent Passenger
I saw an ass on the train today. I have seen dogs and cats before but never an ass. The other zoological riders are often leashed or in some sort of container. In other words, they are often under adult supervision. Their actions are answerable to their owners.
This appeared to be a wild ass of the bipedal variety.
I was working on another blog post this morning when a train official entered our section. I waited for her to ask for our tickets as these officials are want to do. However, she took a good fifteen seconds before announcing her purpose. The first passenger showed her his receipt; besides the toilsome work of removing the ticket from his pocket and then replacing it he barely had to move. Unfortunately, this seemed an extreme expenditure on the part of the next rider she queried.
First he tried to ignore her. She went on unabated. Eventually, he produced his phone, bought his ticket online—in front of her!—and handed the phone to the official. That wasn’t going to fly. She asked for his ID.
In response this little man-child raised his voice to let the whole train know that he wasn’t going to hand over any identification. What was this mad woman thinking? Did she think she somehow represented an officially licensed police force? Poppycock. We were in for a show.
“I bought a ticket,” he complained.
There was some official sounding jargon that amounted to her saying that tickets must be purchased before boarding. After a monotonous minute of those two going back and forth over this issue she said if he wanted it this way she would just have him removed by force and arrested for three counts of something or other. All very technical terms for being the ass that he was.
One of the counts, however, stood out to me, the theft of labor. I had been thinking on that earlier at breakfast. I had been considering charity, specifically, the official charity states and governments provide compared with the more traditional concept of individual charity.
Whatever the moral, legal, or even utilitarian motives there are for the state to provide for the needs of the less fortunate—let me assert that I am not arguing for or against charity monetarily supported by the state—does it not make children of men? It may be a sad necessity but is it not also something which breeds this kind of mindset the ass on the train had?
I doubt he thought himself a thief; a thief would have bought his ticket during that fifteen second waiting period and during the subsequent time it took for the first man to prove his bonafides. It was all said in that whiny sniveling voice, he was the real victim. Believe you me, he would boisterously complain of his ill treatment and look around at the other passengers thinking his case obvious. How dare this woman bother him! Paying for services indeed!
All of this could have been avoided easily—she even said she could lessen the blow if he would play nice—but no. So now he will be paying orders of magnitude more because he didn’t want to go through the bother of buying a ticket, or even being polite to someone in a position to do him good or evil.
But what can you expect from an ass.
The only lesson I can force out of my rant is this: some people will, after every effort for their benefit has been made, spurn authority for the price they must eventually pay. As C. S. Lewis noted, the doors of hell are locked from the inside.