I believe in manners, following the rules, and that there is some kind of ultimate fairness in the world that means cheaters don’t prosper (even if I can’t see it…). So I can be a bit of a wimp sometimes. But have you heard the saying “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission?” It means do what you need to do, and then apologize. You may have ruffled some feathers, but at least you’ll have done what you needed to. By asking permission you may be stopped before you can get anywhere.
One year my dad’s work hosted an employee appreciation day at the CNE. (The kind of thing where employees and their families get discounted tickets, and they have themed events scattered around the fairgrounds) My father’s shared philosophy has always included advice like “walk in like you own the place and no one will ask you any questions.” On CNE day, he drove into the fairgrounds and parked on the lawn right behind the band shell. At the end of the day our family of six piled back into the van and headed home. Not one person asked him what he was doing, if he belonged there, or even to move the vehicle. This still appalls my sense of fairness, but it also proves his point. The worst-case scenario is that maybe our van could have been towed. The actual best-case scenario was a primo parking space in the middle of the city. In between, we could have been asked to leave (embarrassing), or ticketed (costly), but we weren’t. If my dad had asked to park on the band shell lawn, he certainly would have been told no.
Say you need one photograph in an area that requires a permit. I don’t condone illegal behaviour, but I can also see how it’s much easier to just go and take the shot when there’s a good chance you won’t be stopped, and if you are stopped, you’ll likely just be asked to leave. It’s definitely important to assess what’s at stake before taking a risk. For example, are you willing to have your files confiscated for the chance at the perfect shot? Is the parking spot worth a ticket?
Like I said, I’m a bit of a coward – I tend to be the one who asks permission and gets stopped at the gates. But what about you, do you do or do you ask?
Image Sources: Van: CZmarlin Man: US National Archives Crowd: Alessio Damato