Fairness is something that seems to strike to the heart of most individuals. From the small toddler bemoaning the fact they can’t have another biscuit, the mardy 8 year-old horrified at having to go to see Granny rather than go on a playdate or the turbulent teen who now has to do their own laundry. It doesn’t get any better as a grown-up. Things that seem or are unfair provoke a strong reaction and fester in the very soul of the put-upon.
Most of us can take the highs and lows life deals us with gratitude or resignation but when something happens that flauts the law of fairness, the need for justice engulfs us like a flame of rage. When I teach a lesson about ‘why we punish’ one of the universal reasons is the need for justice to be done. To maintain a fair and just society. So, it’s a pretty powerful thing.
Yesterday I found myself uttering those very words – ‘It’s not fair!’. I got a parking ticket. I parked in a shopping centre multi-storey and tried for about 20 minutes to pay for my parking using the parking app they advertise. Now in the actual car park there is no signal, so you have to wait until you are in the actual shopping centre. I then tried about 10 times, but the app would not respond. I had full signal, full internet usage (my other apps worked) but I was unable to register my parking. In addition to this I had my sleepy two-year old, awoken from her car-seat nap and no pushchair (it was in my Husband’s car). So, wrestling a toddler, my bag and trying to tap into my iPhone was requiring some dexterity and getting a few tuts from the old ladies passing by. You know the type.
I decided I would wait until I had exited the actual shopping centre and try outside, but of course by the time I reached the high street it had slipped my mind completely and only re-entered mid-latte about half an hour later. I immediately fished out my phone and successfully managed to pay for my parking. Of course, when I got back there was that bright yellow square of doom attached to my windscreen and what was supposed to be a quick dash to the Post Office to post my nephew’s birthday present turned into a very expensive shopping trip.
‘It’s not fair!’ I squealed.
‘What not fair, Mummy?’
“This!’ I said through gritted teeth and I wrangled the VERY sticky plastic covering off of the ticket, and then off of my fingers and then in frustration stuck it to the booster seat with a hard slap.
Actually, as the law goes it was fair. I had not paid for my parking when they checked my car and they fined me accordingly. What was not fair was that the intention had been there. I had tried, many times, to pay for the damned parking but technology had outwitted me. I had wanted to pay, I had attempted to pay and finally I did pay – but too late. And, my god, it grates at me. *taps keyboard extra-hard*. Hours later it is still riling me and it will continue to do so as I pay my £25 fine, as I write and then delete a ‘Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’* email to the parking company and as I forfeit the Cath Kidston bag I wanted to buy in the sale which I definitely can’t get now because I had to spend £25 on a parking ticket I shouldn’t (morally) have got.
I just lost all sympathy with that last sentence, didn’t I? Bugger. Love of kitsch is a dangerous thing.
*This is actually true.