The “I’m Special” Slippery Slope

It would have cost her $2. But she didn’t want to pay that. She felt she’d already spent enough on whac-a-mole games. Now I was simply to give her daughter the pillow.

I explained yet again that two people would need to play. Her daughter could use her ticket and one of her sisters or parents could pay $2 to play with her. She would get a second medium prize, and then she could trade both in for the pillow that matched her sisters’ prizes.

This was not acceptable. I should just fork over the desired prize.

“I can’t do that. You’re welcome to go to guest services.”
“Oh, I will.”
“I’m sorry I can’t help you,” I said as she began to walk away.
“Oh, you could help me, Carol, if you wanted to.”
“You’re asking me to jeopardize my job,” I replied.
She doubled back, waving her hand in my face, shouting, “Stop talking! I’m going to guest services to tell them about you!”

The final result? After both guest services and my manager refused to simply give the woman the pillow she felt her child deserved, she stormed out of the park, cutting short her children’s fun. Over $2.

t-shirt from
t-shirt from

But really what it came down to, I think, was she believed she was special (after all, I’m sure everyone had told her so all her life), and the rules didn’t apply to her.

Just like they don’t apply to many of us.

Because we’re special. Our mommies said so. (As did our daddies and grandmas and grandpas and . . .)

Even the church tells us God created us special. I’ve said it myself. And if by special we mean “unique,” that’s true. There is no one quite like you. Or me. Or any of the other 7,324,008, 051—wait, 7,324,008,052—no, 7,324,008,054—well, over 7 billion people in the world today.

When I spoke on the four basic personality types a few weeks ago, I mentioned that a characteristic of my choleric personality is they tend to look at rules more as guidelines, set in place to help less intelligent people get safely through life. I don’t think in our culture that applies only to cholerics.

  • It seems true for the middle-aged Mennonite woman who breezed through the 4-way stop sign.
  • It seems true for the teen texting while driving.
  • It seems true for the 99.5% of us who don’t adhere to the speed limit.
  • It’s even true when I try to convince the restaurant waitress that she should accept my coupon that expired only a day ago.

Because I’m special—and by that I don’t mean “unique”; I mean “the exception.” Just like the whac-a-mole lady.

How we think, really.
How we think, really.

Yes, you have a rule, but I should be the exception. Because it’s all about me.

  • That’s why I have to answer my phone when I’m driving, even if it might not be the safest move (but, hey, I’m a better driver than most people; I can handle it).
  • That’s why some other person can justify not paying his taxes, because the government wastes his money or shouldn’t have the right to tax anyway or he really needs that money or, my favorite, I’m a minister serving Jesus, so I’m special, because I serve a higher power.
  • That’s why those two cars passed the Amish buggies on a curve when they couldn’t see what or who was coming, because they were too special to wait.
  • It’s why at the MissioAlliance conference, when the host church specifically asked that we take no food or drink into their sanctuary, their sacred space, the coffee drinkers continued to imbibe unconcerned. (Was my water bottle allowed? I don’t remember, because even if it wasn’t, I would have made an exception for me.)
  • And at the extremes, it’s why shoplifters steal and murderers kill and rapists rape. It’s all about me, what I want, because I am the exception. Rules don’t apply to me. I’m special.

What exceptions are you most likely to think you deserve?

Next time I think I’m special enough not to have to follow the rules, I hope I’ll remember the angry mother, ruining her family’s amusement park trip (and my night) over 2 bucks.

It wasn’t special.



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