Here’s what I want to know:
Why are the rules set up the way they are?
In the gym where I work out, there’s a sign above the water fountain. It reads
DO NOT SPIT IN FOUNTAIN.
So here’s what I want to know. Is it okay to spit on the floor? Is it perfectly all right to spit on the equipment? What if I should suddenly decide I want to spit on the mirror, the stack of towels, or another member? That’s okay, right, as long as I don’t spit in the fountain…
Why doesn’t the sign just say NO SPITTING?
For that matter, when we watch the old reruns of Barney Miller (which hold up really well, by the way), I have observed that the wall inside their cell (oh yes, if you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a New York city police station sitcom—very well-written) says DO NOT SPIT ON FLOOR.
Again, I am compelled to ask, is it acceptable to spit on the bench, on the wall, or on another perp?
This brings to mind a story a friend of mine told me once about renting an apartment in the late 1960s. Everything was going perfectly well—she liked the apartment, found the rent reasonable, loved the location, etc. The landlord wanted her to sign something saying she would not use illegal drugs in the apartment.
My friend was not a druggie, and had no intention of using illegal drugs. But she found it incongruous that this would be a requirement of tenancy, and that there were no such demands being made to guarantee that she would not break other laws, steal, bear false witness, covet her neighbor’s ox, dishonor her parents, or commit murder on the property.
She walked. On principle. I like that.
But I still don’t spit in the fountain.