社会之窗—人 情 关 系,一 刀 两 断(转载)

楼主:月亮船158 时间:2010-03-12 21:00:00 河北 点击:402 回复:0
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Severing1 the Human Connection
  
  By H. Bruce Miller
  
   胡德良/译注 王殿文/校
  
  
  Went down to the local self-serve gas station the other morning to fill up. The sullen cashier was sitting inside a dark, glassed-in, burglar-proof, bullet-proof, probably grenade-proof cubicle2 covered with cheerful notices. “NO CHECKS.” “NO CREDIT.” “NO BILLS OVER $50 ACCEPTED.” “CASHIER HAS NO SMALL CHANGE.” And the biggest one of all: “PAY BEFORE PUMPING GAS.” A gleaming steel box slid out of the wall and gaped open. I dropped in a $20 bill. “Going to fill ‘er up with no-lead on Number 6,” I said. The cashier nodded. The steel box swallowed my money and retracted into the cubicle. I walked back to the car to pump the gas, trying not to slink or skulk. I felt like I ought to be wearing striped overalls with a number on the breast pocket.
  
  前几天上午,我去当地的一家自助加油站加油。闷闷不乐的出纳员坐在一个阴暗、镶有玻璃的小隔离室内。小隔离室是防盗窃、防子弹、大概也是防枪榴弹的。上面还贴着醒目的通知:“拒收支票”,“拒用信用卡”,“拒收面额超过50美金的钞票”,“出纳员不找零钱”,其中最大的一幅通知标语是:“先付款,后加油”。一个闪闪发亮的钢铁收银盒从墙内滑出并张开口,我扔进一张20美元的票子,说:“加6号机的无铅汽油”,那位出纳员点点头,钢铁收银盒吞进我的票子便缩回那间小隔离室内。我回到车旁去加油,尽量表现得堂堂正正。我觉得好像自己应该穿上带有条纹的、胸部口袋处标有上岗号码的工作服。
  
  
  The pay-before-you-pump gas station (those in the trade call it a “pre-pay”) is a response to a real problem in these days of expensive gas and cut-rate ethics: people who fill their tanks and then tear out of the station without paying. Those in the business call them “drive-offs.” The head of one area gasoline dealers’ association says drive-offs cost some dealers $500 to $600 a month. With a profit margin of only about a nickel a gallon, a dealer has to sell a lot of gallons to make up that kind of loss. The police aren’t much help. Even if the attendant manages to get a license plate number and description of the car, the cops have better things to do than tracking down a guy who stole $15 worth of gas. So the dealers adopt the pre-pay system.
  
  
  
  在油价昂贵和道德沦丧的当今,这种“先付款,后加油”的加油站(业内人士称之为“预付款加油站”)反映出一个现实问题:有人加满油不付款便逃之夭夭。这一行业的人们管他们叫做“逃油者”。据某个地区石油经营者协会的负责人说,逃油者给一些经销商造成的损失每月大约500—600美元。由于每加仑油只有5分钱的薄利,一个经销商必须卖很多油才能弥补那种损失。警方帮不了什么忙,即使加油工设法搞到了某逃油车牌照的号码,对该车也有所描述,而警方宁愿去破更重要的案子,也不愿追踪一个逃了价值15美元汽油的家伙。因此,经销商们采取了预付款制度。
  
   Intellectually, I understand all of this, yet I am angry and resentful. Emotionally I cannot accept the situation. I understand the dealers’ position, I understand the cops’ position. But I cannot understand why I should be made to feel like John Dillinger3 every time I buy a tank of gasoline. It’s the same story everywhere. You go to a department store and try to pay for a $10.99 item with a check and you have to pull out a driver’s license, two or three credit cards and a character reference from the pope—and then stand around for 15 minutes to get the manager’s approval. Try to pay with a credit card and you have to wait while the cashier phones the central computer bank to make sure you’re not a deadbeat or the Son of Sam4 or something. It’s not that we don’t trust you, they smile. It’s just that we have to protect ourselves.
  理智地想一想,我完全能理解这一切,然而我感到气愤和怨恨。从情感上讲,我不能接受这种现象。我理解经销商的难处,我也理解警方的处境,但是我不明白为什么每次加一箱油都弄得我感觉像大盗约翰·狄林杰似的。情况到处都是一样。你去一家商店,想用支票支付一件价值10.99美元的商品,你就必须拿出你的驾照、出示两三张信用卡、还得呈上一份由教皇出具的人品证明书,然后站在一边再等上15分钟,以获取经理的准许。要用信用卡支付,你就得等待出纳员打电话给银行的中心机房,以澄清你不是个穷光蛋或“山姆之子”之类的人物。他们微笑着说:“这不是不信任你,而是我们得保护自己”。
  
  
  Right. We all have to protect ourselves these days. Little old ladies with attack dogs and Mace and 12-gauges5, shopkeepers with closed-circuit TVs and electronic sensors to nab shoplifters, survivalists storing up ammo and dehydrated foods in hope of riding out Armageddon6, gas station owners with pay-before-you-pump signs and impenetrable cashiers’ cages—all protecting themselves. From what? From each other. It strikes me that we are expending so much time, energy and anguish on protecting ourselves that we are depleting our stock of mental and emotional capital for living. It also strikes me that the harder we try to protect ourselves, the less we succeed. With all the home burglar alarms and guard dogs and heavy armament, the crime rate keeps going up. With all the electronic surveillance devices, the shoplifters’ take keeps climbing. The gas chiselers7 haven’t figured out a way to beat the pre-pay system yet, but they will.
  
  
  
  诚然,当今我们都必须保护自己。身材矮小的老太太带着袭击犬、狼牙棒、还有12口径枪支;商店店主利用闭路电视和电子传感器来捉拿扒手;生存至上主义者储存弹药和脱水食物以期安渡哈米吉多顿;加油站的主人利用“先付款,后加油”的标示,还有不可穿透的出纳员小室… … 这些都是为了自我保护。以防什么?以防互相侵害。我深感为了自我保护我们正在花费太多的时间、精力和努力,其实我们是正在大量地消耗为生存所储备的精神资本和情感资本;我也深感我们越努力地进行自我保护,所取得的成效就越可怜。尽管家家户户都有防盗警报、警卫犬和重武器配备,犯罪率还是持续上涨;尽管到处都有电子监控设备,商店的偷盗事件仍是稳步攀升。汽油骗子们还没有想出办法来击垮预付款制度,但他们会想出来的。
  
  
  Is it that the people are simply incorrigibly dishonest, that the glue of integrity and mutual respect that holds society together is finally dissolving? I don’t know, but I suspect that if something like this really is going on, our collective paranoia contributes to the process. People, after all, tend to behave pretty much the way other people expect them to behave. If the prevailing assumption of a society is that people are honest, by and large they will be honest. If the prevailing assumption is that people are crooks, more and more of them will be crooks.
  
  是否人们就是具有不可救药的欺骗性?是否将社会胶合在一起的那种诚实正直和互相尊重最终荡然无存了呢?我感到茫然。但我认为如果像这样的情况持续下去,我们大家的猜疑会促使这种情况的恶化。毕竟,人们往往是按照别人的期待去行事的。如果一个社会流行的设想是:人们是诚实的,那么他们总体上就是诚实的;如果这种流行的设想是:人们都是骗子,那么他们中越来越多的人就会沦为骗子。
  
   What kind of message does a kid get from an environment where uniformed guards stand at the entrance of every store, where every piece of merchandise has an anti-shoplifting tag stapled to it, where every house has a burglar alarm and a .38, where the gas station cashiers huddle in glass cages and pass your change out through a metal chute? What can he conclude but that thievery and violence are normal, common, expected behaviors? 每家商店入口都站有穿制服的警卫;每件商品都钉有防盗标签;每户都安装了防盗警报器,并配有点38手枪;加油站的出纳员都蜷缩在玻璃隔离室里,并通过金属槽口进行找零… … 一个孩子在这样的环境中能得到怎样的信息呢?他所得出的结论无非就是偷盗和暴力是正常的、普遍的、预期的行为!
   A society which assumes its members are honest is humane, comfortable, habitable. A society which treats everyone like a criminal becomes harsh, unfeeling, punitive, paranoid. The human connection is severed; fear of detection and punishment becomes the only deterrent8 to crime, and it’s a very ineffective one. Somehow, sometime—I don’t know when, but it was within my lifetime—we changed from the first type of society to the second. Maybe it’s too late to go back again, but the road we are now on is a dark and descending one.
  一种社会,认为其成员是诚实的,是一个具有人情味的、无忧无虑的、适于生存的社会。另一种社会,把每个人都当罪犯来对待,是一个残酷的、无情的、苦难的、多疑的社会。这种社会的人情关系断绝了,对侦察和惩罚的恐惧感成为遏制犯罪的唯一因素,而这种遏制因素的效果却又很不理想。不知怎样,也不知何时(但肯定是在我出生之后)我们的社会从第一种变成了第二种。再走回头路也许太晚了,可是我们现在穿行的这条道路是一条黑暗的、每况愈下的道路。
  
  
  
  Notes:
  
  1. sever: 切断、割断
  
  2. cubicle: (从大房间中隔离出的)小室
  
  3. John Dillinger: 美国电影《大盗狄林杰》中的一个狡猾多端的盗窃和抢劫银行的逃犯。
  
  4. Son of Sam: 20世纪70年代,David Bercowitz在纽约城区谋害了好几条人命,他自称为“山姆之子”。
  
  5. 12-gauges: 指12口径的枪支。
  
  6. Armageddon: 哈米吉多顿,《圣经》“启示录”第11章第16节里的善与恶的决战战场。后来泛指国际间的大决战或决定性的大战役。
  
  7. chiseler: 骗子
  
  8. deterrent: 起制止或遏制作用的因素。
  
  欢迎光临本博:http://huzhangao.blog.163.com/
  转自:http://huzhangao.blog.163.com/blog/static/4527095820079147322723/
  

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