If you want to know what's wrong with American society, consider the following incident. Seven or eight years ago I heard a crash and a man crying "My leg! My leg." I looked out the window of my second-floor apartment and saw that a man had been hit by a car. I ran downstairs, while my wife called the police. The driver and a hipster whose hacky sack game had been interrupted were, when I arrived, trying to convince the man, whose leg had been knocked off in the collision, not to call the police. The leg was fake. (I fictionalized this incident, taking what details would work for me and inventing new ones, in a short story called "One Man's Trailer Trash," which you can read if you want to take your mind off what's wrong with American society, but it won't work, it will just make you feel worse.) The man had been riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, and the car had come out of the alley without honking. The driver said to the cyclist, who was trying to strap his leg back on, that riding on the sidewalk was illegal and the police would probably give him a ticket. I said, "You hit him with your fucking car." The hipster said, "OK, no one needs to be an asshole." I said, "Fuck off," which he did, back to his hacky sack game.
Is the problem that we don't have enough people who are willing to stand up for legless cyclists? Is the problem hipster diplomacy? Is it that people pull out of alleys without honking? The problem is that if you're poor, you're not shit. If you have one leg and you ride a bike because you don't have enough money for a car and you look a little homeless, you're not shit, and when you get hit by a careless driver it's going to be your fault. The problem is that even with me on his side the cyclist was convinced the police would give him a ticket, so he put his leg back on and rode away, and the driver got back in his car and drove away, not too far, though, because remember my wife had called the police and describe the car. It's not like he went to jail or anything; one of the only hit-and-run incidents in which the police actually catch the driver and the victim is gone. I probably should have ran up to the car and told the officer everything I saw, although I didn't actually see the collision, instead of laughing.
That's the problem, and I don't know how to solve it other than by saying "Fuck off" to most of the people I meet, which I know doesn't help.