Two days ago, as I made the ten minute walk from work to my car, a man, evidently of modest means, crossed over from the other side of the street to just a few paces ahead of me. No sooner had his well-worn shoes hit the sidewalk than he stooped suddenly and plucked a dollar bill from the concrete. His pause allowed me to catch up to him, and I congratulated him on his lucky day and chuckled at his beaming countenance as I passed him by. A nanosecond later, it dawned on me that his gain had been my loss, and fortune’s grim way quickly dissipated my good cheer. But for this man’s crossing the street, that dollar would have been mine! What’s more, the man had jaywalked when he crossed the street, meaning his windfall had been illicitly acquired. Based upon my reading of the philosophy literature, I’m pretty sure it would have been ethically sound for me to have punched the scoundrel in the face and liberated my dollar from his pocket.
Pondering this, I was turning the corner into the parking lot when my iPod’s earbud wires became entangled in a low hanging branch, immobilizing me. Just then, a small man brandishing a bar dart leapt from nearby bushes. He poked me a half-dozen times, all the while yelling:
“Joab jabs you! Joab jabs you!”
Sensing that feigning death was my only recourse to further cutaneous cutting, I went limp and allowed the fellow to extricate my slumped form from its ensnarement. Summoning a strength belied by his tiny stature, he dragged me to a nearby construction site, placed a few loose bricks atop my body, and disappeared into the dusk without a word.