I was on my way to work the other day and walking at Newark and Hudson Street.
It is a very busy street corner at 8:30 am, with cars moving along a one-way street and pedestrians on corners, some that patiently wait and others that clearly jaywalk. I was on the crosswalk, waiting, looking in the direction of cars coming from the north.
From the south, a jogger was running in the road, between the cars and the sidewalk. She was very fit, in her late 20's or early 30's, and wore a Lycra tank top and runners shorts. With the weather so hot and humid, she was drenched in sweat from a long morning of running.
She ran past me, and some other pedestrians on the crosswalk, and tried to cut across traffic in the middle of the street, between a break of a car and a taxi. Another pedestrian had the same idea - to jaywalk in front of a car that was about 15 feet away.
Well the result was expected. The pedestrian was looking north. The runner was coming from the south and tried to jaywalk across the traffic. She tripped over his feet and completely, and utterly ate pavement only 8 feet away from being hit from a taxi who jammed on their breaks.
She was in the middle of the intersection of Newark and Hudson, lying on the ground after landing hard on her hip and wrist which broke her fall. She looked up at the guy who accidentally tripped her with unmasked anger. She looked back at her, with concern and offered to help her up. She got up on her own after about 10 seconds, holding her hip grimacing in pain.
I waited there, in case someone needed a witness to what happened. But the two didn't even talk or cross words. She huffed away, still angry to what happened.
I'm sure when she tells the tale, it will be a story about a stupid guy who tripped her. Because something I have noticed in our society, especially with everyone my generation and younger - is the constant theme of "YOU WERE WRONG NOT ME".
Ever notice that? I do. It seems that no one in our society will ever take blame. It is all about deflecting blame to others. For example, if someone cuts you off on the highway and they are the idiot - you aren't the idiot for driving 55 mph in the left hand lane. Or if someone in Hoboken nearly runs you down with a car - to them you are the idiot jaywalking and to them you are the idiot driving your car too fast in town.
Maybe the girl who got hit was just angry about hurting herself and not angry at the guy. But I get the feeling that isn't the case. It seems to me that there isn't enough empathy in the world anymore, and strangely enough I read an article about this just the other day:
Today's students scored 40 percent lower on a measure of empathy than their elders did.