What happened to chivalry?: Lack of common decency leaves writer feeling disgusted

Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chivalry is dead.

At least that's what I was told.

Under the circumstances, it was hard to argue.

I thought I had seen it all, growing up in the shadows of Boston and living in Columbus, Ohio for nearly seven years, any-city America where the pompous and rude usually reign supreme.

What I witnessed first-hand one week ago, however, takes the cake.

Seated, uncomfortably I might add, on a rock pending the start of the Stanley Ford Golf Tournament at Bird Homestead Golf Course, I, along with 67 other competitors, were anxiously awaiting tee-off.

First, though, there was an announcement.

"There is an older woman here who is unable to walk all 18 holes and is in need of a cart," or something to that effect is what the woman declared so loudly it could be heard at Birch Ridge. "Unfortunately, we have no carts remaining. Would anybody mind giving up theirs to accommodate this woman?"


I waited. I looked around. Not a peep.

I'm pretty sure I heard a sparrow chick hatch somewhere around hole. No. 4.

My teammates and I, either carrying our bags or using pull carts that day, glanced at one another in disbelief.

"Are these people serious?" I asked them.

Clearly they were.

And it was appalling.

A woman in her 60s, I'm guessing, willing to come out for a day of fun while supporting the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, the sponsor of the event, was about to be forced to walk 18 holes on perhaps the hottest and sunniest day during this already extraordinarily scorching summer.

"Wow," is all I could think. I'm pretty sure I said that aloud two or three times, too.

I was taught at a young age how to treat other people. Especially women.

I'm not bragging or claiming to be the king of courtesy, but had myself or a teammate been driving a golf cart around that day, it would have been in that woman's possession two minutes ago.

I nearly stood up and spoke of how disgusting this act, or lack thereof, appeared.

I didn't.

And for one second, I was glad I hadn't.

A man started making his way toward the front of the pack and to the porch of the clubhouse where the woman making this announcement was perched above us.

Surely he was going to surrender his cart to walk, or perhaps use one of the many pull-carts visible to every one of us.

I was relieved, to be honest, as I felt terrible for this woman.

In a second, however, that relief morphed immediately back to anger.

The man turned in a lost pitching wedge.

Are you kidding me?

I swiveled my head in all directions, trying to gauge a reaction to this ongoing silence that was briefly broken by the announcement of the lost pitching wedge.

Many laughed to clear the obvious awkwardness from the air.

But it was hard to tell what people were thinking. Most of them were just staring at the ground.

I hope they felt ashamed and humiliated. I did, and I didn't even have a cart to surrender.

I was embarrassed to even be associated with everyone who failed to step up to the plate and perform a good deed, a mitzvah or do the right thing.

Out of 17 teams competing that day, I would bet more than half of them had two carts apiece. Able-bodied men and women, who'd have little trouble working up a sweat as they traverse the course, didn't budge.

One group even had a cooler lodged in the back of their vehicle.

Need to have someplace to put your beer when you hit, I guess.

The woman in question happened to be playing behind my group, exhaustedly taking a seat on a bench each time we met up and waited at the ensuing tee box together.

Then, with little notice and about three or four holes to play, she was finally graced with a cart.

How nice.

After roughly 15 holes and close to six excruciating hours of sun-splashed golf later, this woman was able to scoot up and down the final few holes in the confines of a motorized cart.

I must admit, I commend her for continuing to participate in this drawn-out day and absorbing the shock that likely accompanied the lack of donations at the start of all of this.

I'm sure she was as mortified as I.

Following this aforementioned abomination, my group trekked to our spot on our first hole.

During the walk, my teammate told me chivalry is dead.

I said it's not.

Common decency is.

Matthew Carroll is a sports reporter at the Peninsula Clarion. Comments may be sent to matthew.carroll@peninsulaclarion.com.

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