Thursday, December 23, 2004

Just How Rude Can We Be to Each Other

It is the Christmas season. Everyone is hustling and bustling to and fro. As I join the fray or just pass by on other business, I am amazed at how rude and self-absorbed people can be. For the most part, I believe that these people are nice. Most of them probably go to church or contribute to charity or help old ladies across streets, but put them out in public with some shopping to do and they become a danger to themselves and everyone around them.

Case in point: I'm driving home by a different route one afternoon. My dog has recently eaten a Christmas present so I've got to buy a replacement on the way home. I drive up on a small car moving at an even smaller speed. Doing 25 in a 35 where most folks do 45 is bad, but I decide that can wait it out. Then all of a sudden the little car stops at a side road intersection that has no traffic light and no stop sign. SLAM on the breaks. Anti-lock breaks engage and I stop with 5 or 6 feet to spare. The car behind me and the car behind him does the same. Why did she stop?!? To let the car in the oncoming lane turn left. I should have pulled her from her car right there, pulled her license and broken her keys. Unfortunately, all I can do in a semi-civilized society is shake my head and finger and go on.

Something that goes on all year long, but seems to get worse this time of year, is the rudeness at the gym. Specifically people (mostly guys) that like to take their break sitting on a machine. They sit and rest until someone (me) shows up wanting to use the machine. That is when they decide to do their 'one more set'. So now I have to stand there and wait for them to complete 'one more set'. Either work out of get up. I didn't come over here to watch you work out. (Calming down now).

And another thing (huff, puff), why do people in groups in the mall walk shoulder to shoulder. It is like they have to, they are compelled to. No worries that they walk half speed and folks behind them can't pass. And no worries that oncoming traffic has to pin themselves to the side walls to avoid the phalanx. No, they chat and push their baby stroller with out a care for anybody else. Then, just when you see some daylight, an opening, a break in the crowd, the group will stop, perhaps wondering where to go on maybe just to chat, blocking the entire way. Anyone who does not believe in ESP should watch a group like this work. Without a word, they will stop and move and adjust to maximize the disruption to other shoppers.

What is the answer. I think those of us who are aware of our surrounding need to get aggressive. Pull over and tell the woman that stops for one while four others almost wreck that she needs to wake up and look around and be nice when appropriate before she hurts someone. Tell the guy at the gym to rest while standing up. And above all, don't move out of a pushy group's way at the mall. Make them break the formation. Tell them that they are in the way. All of these folks will get angry with you, because they won't want to admit to themselves or you that they are wrong. But if enough of us say something, eventually things will get better and that would be good for all.

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