Some rules are made to be…followed

What would “Quirk week” be without a posting quirk?  Looks like we’ll have to complete the week on Saturday.  Until then, read on…

Some might say following the rules is not really a “quirk”.  I disagree and I base my opinion on the fact that so many people disregard rules.

There are a number of explanations given for this behavior:  the person was unaware, the person was just doing what everyone else was, the person didn’t feel like it applied to them, etc.  This is not a treatise on what other people don’t do, but an illustration of the “quirky” way I slavishly follow rules.  So, let’s see a few examples, shall we?

Driving – Regular readers know I’m a stickler for obeying the law when it comes to driving, but for a few of you newbies, here’s a short list:

– Driving speed limit; Using turn signals; Stopping at red lights and stop signs before turning right; Driving in the right lane (’cause, naturally, doing speed limit, I’m the slowest traffic on the road); keeping two hands on the wheel (most of the time); pulling over to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

In the bizarre, backwards world we live in, some drivers are enraged by my behavior.  It bothers me only in the sense that they are mad at me for delaying their breaking of the law.  Truly odd, but totally understandable.

Gaming – I’ve enjoyed sports most of my life and I’m probably as competitive as anyone (I don’t like losing, although I can take being beaten).  I have never been tempted to “bend” the rules in my favor, regardless of the contest or context.  What would be the point?  A victory by “cheating” is no victory at all.  Which is not to say I haven’t been on the short end of that facing off against an opponent whose sense of proportion is overwhelmed by their thirst for victory.

Similarly, I have never seen the need to break the rules in games, be they board games, card games or computer games.  In computer games, I recognize that many “cheats”, as they are called, are considered fair play within the gaming community, but it’s not as if those bits of help were included in the original game.  Getting hints and tips is one thing, but some of the available aids ultimately side-step the rational rules of the game, meaning, once again, the victory is somewhat hollow (though often quicker).

Working – okay, maybe I don’t do this nowadays, but when I was in the workforce, I employed the same values I was brought up with:  be honest, work hard, do your job.  I didn’t take advantage of my company or my co-workers (which isn’t the same thing as always being a nice guy…would that I could make that claim).  I turned down many free gifts from vendors to guarantee my integrity when making purchasing decisions or other situations when I was responsible for resources that belonged to the company.  Were there others that did not believe in or practice those values?  Of course.  We all have worked with some of those.  But I never believed that someone else’s disrespect of the rules gave me approval to do the same.

Taxes – When I work out, I like to put on sports radio.  I don’t always listen to the conversations, but it has the right amount of background noise to keep me going.  The other day, I heard an ad about “Ron” and the $70,000 in taxes he owed.  The ad went on to warn everyone listening that the IRS could garnish your wages or even send you to jail.  Thank goodness “Ron” was able to employ this service to avoid 85% of his taxes and save “his job, his house and his marriage”.

Maybe “Ron” could have paid his taxes all along and not ended up owing $70,000?  People whine all the time about paying too much tax and rich people not paying their share, blah, blah, blah.  Taxes are part of our responsibility in funding the government that provides protection and support in our lives.  Disagreement over the wisdom of the government’s spending decisions is not grounds for not paying your taxes.

Neither is making poor decisions on the amount of tax taken out of your check and being “stuck” with a tax bill at the end of the year.  Personally, I always set my deductions to zero, maing the probability of a tax refund every year almost certain.

Once, during a period of activity in the stock market, I received a letter from the IRS claiming I owed them over $20,000.  Scary, to be sure.  I took their documents and checked them with mine and ultimately determined I did owe them…about $1,500 (hey, that was almost an 85% savings).  I sent them a check and the forms.  A couple of weeks later they sent me a check back for half the amount…I had miscalculated in their favor and they refunded me the excess.  Thank goodness they follow their own rules!

There have been plenty of times when I was struggling paycheck to paycheck, but regardless of the financial hurdles, I always did my duty to Uncle Sam.  Not out of fear of reprisal or obligation, but because it’s part of the rules for living here (and pretty much any country).

There are a lot more rules I follow that I could cover (relationships, communication, conduct), but I probably already sound like I’m on a soapbox with either a condescending or “holier-than-thou” attitude.  That’s not my intent, but I expect some of you might get that impression.

I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

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