There are some people in the world who don’t seem to care too much about others. I’m not talking about criminals1, although sometimes their actions are not exactly within the law, but people who simply go about their day doing whatever makes life easiest for themselves with scant regard for anyone else. When their actions inconvenience you, hurt you, or cost the rest of us money, it can feel as if they are holding up a big middle finger to the world, which is why OH calls them the ‘Fuck You’ contingent. That car up there is parked in the clearly marked ‘Zig-zag’ zone of a primary school – a zone which is designed to keep young children safe. What’s more, those red and white triangles on the fence? That’s ‘Do Not Park Here!’ bunting. And yet … there they are.
Fuck Yous are the people who jostle you in a doorway as they hurry through following their own agenda, or cut you up when driving as they find their own way around a multi-laned roundabout, disregarding the lane markings. These are the people who spit on the pavement, or leave their chewing gum, broken glass, dropped food or dog’s excrement there for you to tread in. Perhaps you’ll go back to your car after shopping and find that one of them has angled their car across the parking space next to you, leaving you no room to open your car door. Maybe you’ll set out to walk to the shop and find that a Fuck You has put their bin out for collection, right in the middle of the footpath. Or come home to find that there is a Fuck You car parked across your driveway and you can’t get in.
Well, okay, most of the time their selfishness is nothing more than a minor annoyance, so we shrug it off.
But it seems to me that an awful lot of those people don’t really think. And what they don’t think is this: who pays? For example, when filth is left on the pavement, the natural consequence is the arrival of nature’s clean-up gang: rats, flies, bacteria, and in town centres, the pigeons, which then have to be controlled by the town council because they create mess and disease opportunities of their own. All this has to be cleaned up, and who foots the bill? Everyone who pays tax does. That’s you and me2. If an accident is caused by poor lane discipline, or by someone running into a bin in the dark, there’ll be an insurance claim and maybe a visit to the hospital. Everyone’s insurance premiums go up in direct proportion to the number of accident claims, and your taxes pay for the NHS, so who pays? Everyone who pays tax does. You, and me. If you don’t pay tax, trust me, you’ll be paying in other ways because the Government’s resources are finite and when the money is tight, benefits and pensions suffer, and a lot of non-essential services suffer too.
I’m sure you’re all sitting there nodding and thinking of Fuck You examples of your own, but do you know which particular type of Fuck You annoys me the most? The ones who decide halfway round the supermarket that they don’t want that bit of meat or jug of milk which they have in their basket, and they just leave it on the nearest convenient shelf, or even at the end of the checkout itself. Last week, I picked up an abandoned piece of rib roast and handed it to a member of staff. What you may or may not know is that any chilled goods found outside the chillers can’t then be sold, or even given to the soup kitchen or any other charity, but must be destroyed. Considering that I find something abandoned every second or third shopping trip, this must be happening on a daily basis in every supermarket in the country, and the amount of food waste this causes is simpy appalling.
And you know what? All that food which has to be thrown away eats into the supermarket’s profits, and that puts the price up for everyone – not just those who pay tax. But I guess to the Fuck Yous, that is just Someone Else’s Problem.
So who are they? Who are the people who feel – even in adulthood – that they are the centre of the universe and that the things they do, drop, or abandon are Someone Else’s Problem3? What kind of upbringing did they have? I have never met anyone who would admit to taking something from the chiller and leaving it on a random, unchilled, shelf, nor have I met anyone who boasts about parking in disabled bays, spitting in the High Street or knocking old ladies aside as they push their way through crowds. I know I’m far from perfect, but I could no more do those things than fly.
1 Although criminals are the ultimate Fuck You, aren’t they? They don’t care about you when they steal your identity, your car, or your confidence.
2 And indeed, the Fuck Yous themselves, who then complain about the cost of the tax.
3 Douglas Adams coined the phrase ‘Someone Else’s Problem’ (or ‘SEP’) in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the theory being that if you see something your brain can’t cope with it simply doesn’t see it, and therefore you can leave, say, an intergalactic spaceship parked in the middle of a city and people will simply walk round it and not even notice it’s there. Fuck Yous seem to feel that the results of their actions are pretty much SEPs.