Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my wife and I left a restaurant after a pleasant family dinner, to find under the windshield wiper of our rental car a piece of paper torn from a spiral-bound notebook. Someone, I thought, must have hit or scraped the car while parking and left a note—a mark of civility as universally recognized in our society today as any there is. Why, even the “Seinfeld” gang, who all went to jail in the 1998 series finale under a “Good Samaritan” statute for laughing at someone who was being mugged, devoted a whole episode to the inescapable etiquette of leaving a note in these circumstances. Who says that Americans have no remaining standards of honor or decency? So sure was I that the note had to be from some such latter-day Galahad that all I could think of as I extracted it from the wiper was the lengthy correspondence with car rental and insurance companies I was in for once I had got back home and to work...

 

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

Popular Right Now