Here’s Wilson Goode’s guidance on some classic (but questionable) Philly behaviors.
Hey Mr. Mayor: My grandmother, a lifelong Democrat, passed away 14 years ago, and ever since then, my family has been voting “on Nana’s behalf.” Some goody-two-shoes who just moved here from Brooklyn told me this violates some ethical something or other. What’s your take? — Civically Active in South Philly Voting for your grandmother is like continuing to receive a cash pension and Social Security check after her death. It’s illegal. Despite the rumors you hear about “dead people” voting, casting a ballot on her behalf is just plain wrong. And no manner of logical reasoning will change that.
Yo: I passed a pretzel vendor on Roosevelt Boulevard the other night. As I sat at the traffic light, I saw the guy pick his nose, then go back to selling pretzels. What’s my obligation? — Grossed Out in the Northeast Your first obligation is to not buy a pretzel. Second, if you can stop, you might want to let the vendor know what you observed. Third, write to the Department of Public Health, and give the time of day and the location of the vendor. Fourth, you may want to stop eating pretzels from street vendors.
Dear Reverend Goode: My yoga instructor recently told me that a steady diet of cheesesteaks — even with provolone instead of Whiz — isn’t healthy. Does that make it wrong to feed them to my children? — Concerned Gladwyne Stepmom Your obligation as a parent is to look after the health and welfare of your children. Your instructor gave you critical information about the dangers of certain foods. That advice should alter your behavior. Your children should be the beneficiaries of that modified behavior. (But let me add that some foods may not be as harmful if eaten in moderation.)
Mayor Goode: Seven-fifteen Friday evening, and my wife and I are heading to dinner at Vetri, where it took us four months to get a reservation. Suddenly, we hit traffic on the Schuylkill. Is it ethically okay to drive on the shoulder to get to the restaurant on time? (Remember: It’s Vetri!) — Highly Strung BMW Driver It is not only not legal to drive on the shoulder; it is a danger to you, your wife and other cars. Too often we view life only through the lens of what’s best for us. We need order in society, and selfish and illegal acts can bring not just disorder, but danger to others as well.
Hey: True or false: It is morally acceptable to reserve a parking space in front of my house with a folding chair. — Not Really Sure I Care What You Think in Bella Vista The parking space in front of your house does not belong to you. It is a public parking space, and you have no more right to that space than a stranger from New Jersey. So when you put out chairs to reserve “your parking space,” just remember it is not yours. Even when it snows and you dig the spot out and place chairs in the spot that you’ve spent hours digging out, it does not belong to you. It is still a public space.
G-Man: Several years ago, in the middle of an important Eagles game at the Vet, I goaded another fan into throwing a snowball at Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson. Some people have told me this was “wrong.” I say they just don’t understand Philly sports. What do you think? — The Honorable [Name Withheld], Harrisburg Throwing a snowball at a coach is not only morally wrong; it could potentially put you in a precarious legal position. If the snowball had struck the coach, you could have an assault charge on your hands. Moreover, what kind of example are you setting for the children and youth attending the game? The next time you have an urge to throw a snowball, just holler as loud as you can until the temper tantrum has ceased. (P.S. — Say hi to Midge!)