MANHATTAN - Landing at La Guardia last night after Thanksgiving at home in the Rockies, was as tense a scene I've witnessed in the 3 years studying in the city. The taxi line was out of control as the supervisor nearly came to blows with a father who refused to get into the cab of a screaming driver. More people in line started to shout and I managed to jump into a nearby taxicab, whose driver was clearly agitated as he sped off, screeching around the corner, pinning me and my backpack against the opposite door of the back seat. He let off the pedal after I managed to climb upright asking him to PLEASE CALM DOWN.
It's getting tense and going to be a long winter, I thought. Yes, the headlines are dominated by a failing economy, the tragic attacks on Mumbai -- another wave of violence by a nebulous enemy and uncertainty as to where the next attack will be.
But I must admit, the news that has haunted me most was the mob violence at a Wal-Mart store a few miles from Manhattan. I'm not a sociologist or a psychologist, so can anyone explain how you can continue to shop after a man has just been trampled to death? When your children unwrap that Nintendo on Christmas morning (or Eve if you're Catholic) do you say "Yes dear, we got a great deal on that! We ran like hell to get to it before anyone else. Sorry that poor man got in our way."
And Wal-Mart? I'm no fan, having boycotted it for a decade, and applauded Ted Kennedy's prescient Ten Commandments here on Huffington Post exactly 3 years ago.
Peter Goodman made an addition to Kennedy's Commandments in the New York Times today, this time addressing the American consumer, who lives with a subtler, more insidious problem, myself included; the proclivity for new gadgets and clothing.
"Live within our means and save: This new commandment has entered the conversation, colliding with the deeply embedded imperative to spend."
My 12th commandment would be, at the risk of belaboring the obvious... don't stomp a person to death while shopping, including those who manufacture your cheap merchandise overseas... In other words, PLEASE don't be caught dead at Wal-Mart.