The art of courtesy was never written down

It was clearly my fault but I horned anyway. The situation was as follows: Having visited the local laundrette to attempt to handle the weekly mass of drying I was slowly protruding out of a side road as I hoped to turn left. I noticed one car to my right needing to turn left into the narrow road I was exiting from. Therefore, I decided that I could indeed try to take advantage of that situation – Not a good idea I hasten to add as it was both a bit provocative and dangerous. The vehicle behind the car that was turning left into the road I was attempting to exit was having none of it. Although the road was tight, he over took both the latter car and my protruding one. In frustration I horned the chappy. Again, I hasten to add, not a good idea. Having scored a double negative whammy, I thought nothing off it apart from considering that I should have been more patient.

It would have been great if the story ended there. However, to my amazement the van driver decided to halt his van in the middle of the proceeding roundabout resulting in a hold-up of at least 3-4 cars behind him, including mine, still stuck at the junction. Having parked, he decided to jump out of his van and walk aggressively toward mine. His manner was threatening and a countless number of explicatives did not hesitate to spawn from his mouth. After a few remarks, he retreated to his van. Maybe I should not have horned at him but I manage to suggest that he demonstrate something called courtesy – an unwritten rule of the road. In a defensive manner I shouted back at him, ‘there is something called courtesy of the road’. His explicatives and self-righteousness continued.

It was quite ironic that I noticed that this week Lynn Truss of ‘Eats shoots and leaves’ (the importance of essential punctuation) has published a new book called, ‘Talk to the hand’. The full phrase or saying is ‘Talk to the hand ’cause the face ain’t listening’. She asks the question, when did the world get to be so rude? When did society become so inconsiderate? Talk to the Hand is a rallying cry for courtesy. Its context is slightly different to my episode. For example, what makes your builder think he can treat you like dirt in your own home? When you phone a utility with a complaint its amazing that the supervisor is never there! Why is it mostly impossible to ever speak to a person who is authorised to apologise?

As an afterthought I wondered how easy it is to get into a fight based on our own pride and unfortunate self-righteousness. No body likes to be criticised and if one is following the rules its only one’s temper that needs to be controlled. Maybe the world is too serious, defensive of its own space, impatient and unwilling to give way to others. In the same way those that emerge from a junction need to appreciate the rules but in life there is always an opportunity for understanding and give and take – I guess that is what I mean by simple courtesy!

Categories: 2005

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