I found myself shaking my head in righteous regret and composing pithy notes that I could post on the wall, reading something like “Dear neighbors, well, you should know that you all have failed the good citizen test that I have been conducting these past weeks.” The problem is that it was no test; it was just me being moronic and leaving my laundry detergent on the table, where I guess it’s fair game. But the problem with this is that it’s not fair game. I would never use detergent other than my own, except that one time when I had spilled guacamole on my waitress shirt. And I felt so guilty I deliberately left that most precious of commodities, a quarter, near the bottle.
Why then, did someone, or several people, decide it was ok to use the detergent just because it was there? And why shouldn’t they? Aren’t I supposed to be all about sharing and decency? But what does it say about these people (who I never see, by the way, despite the fact that I am always going and coming from this place) that they’d make the assumption that since no one had claimed the detergent, they could use it? Did it mean that they didn’t use their detergent, instead saving a few pennies and making it last longer? Or did my stupidity save someone’s life when they realized that they didn’t have enough detergent to wash their uniform?
I guess I would have preferred to walk downstairs and discover that my detergent hadn’t been touched. It would have been a nice restorative boost to that elusive concept known as “the good of humanity.” That’s been a tough sell to me lately. Yes, you say, but you did it. You did what you’re judging others for doing. I did. But I regretted it, and I won’t do it again. And sometimes its nice to see others being better than you are. It makes you try harder.