Thursday, October 17, 2013

Courtesy in Winnipeg

The Persian proverb "Courteous men learn courtesy from the discourteous" might be only half true.

In reality, discourtesy might also teach someone to be discourteous themselves.

Perhaps that is no more well demonstrated than when one driving a car. No one lets you in when you are trying to change lanes and in turn, you don't let anyone in either.

The list of discourteous driving infractions is a long one. I have been guilty of it but have tried and continue to try to be polite and use courtesy when driving. Confusion, distraction, impatience, anger and selfishness all need to be controlled on the road. Give yourself time to get to where you need to go and mapping out your route is common sense and contributes to your courtesy on the road.

Speed limits aren't suggestions, the car ahead of you isn't "winning", bikes, people and cars are not merely pylons, the horn is not an instrument and turn signals are not options. This isn't NASCAR and tailgating isn't a strategy to push the driver ahead of you or to zig zag in front of them. Meals, shaving and make-up...sometimes all three at the same time can lead to no good. Your brights while driving can be someone else's blinds.

Mistakes happen and that is why it is important to allow for them. If a driver swings their door out suddenly from being parked, it doesn't mean that was ensues is a Winnipeg version of Max Mad, Return to Thunderdome. Check the rage.

I am not a perfect driver but I try to do a few things to limit my exposure to being discourteous and in turn try to show courtesy. I use my turn signals and don't drift from lane to lane. I leave a car length between when driving (although it sometimes leaves me vulnerable to being cut off in front of). I try to drive and park between the lines even when they are hard to see on Winnipeg streets. I try not to speed. I try to be aware and not overly distracted. I let people have turns at intersections. I pull in and tuck the car when I don't have the right of way for approaching traffic.

It is not easy driving in Winnipeg. Sometimes city planners leave you vulnerable to error with lanes that suddenly disappear or have lanes such as Kenaston that people whip down than rush into other lanes at breakneck speed resulting in close calls or aggressive driving.

Diamond lanes and bike lanes that become invisible in snow or cause confusion as to when you can access them to go down other streets are particularly troubling.

I have mentioned traffic a lot because rage in this area seems to occur daily. It is also the area where government unwittingly or deliberately seem to set up things for maximum trouble.

In our daily life outside of driving, good parents tell their kids to mind their Ps and Qs. Say please, say thank you. This goes a long way for being courteous. The trick is communication. I'm sorry if you slept poor and haven't had your coffee yet. Don't be rude and bark at people.

Try not to be the source of frustration for others in stores by being rude, pushy or unprepared when you shop, arrive at the till, walk down the aisles. Living and dying by your debit card sometimes means taking more time at the till and in a few cases, finding out it isn't working and not having even the money for a cup of coffee with you. It is funny how some people don't even have one buck in their pockets. Not so funny when they have to abandon their carts or product at the till in front of you.

Cart etiquette at the grocery store can be used to express courtesy. Tuck your cart in, be watchful of those around you, don't walk as a family five people across the aisle at the slowest pace possible, don't talk on your cell phone the whole time and walk or push your cart with reckless abandon. If their are no automatic doors, look to hold the door occasionally rather than skitter in and have quickly close behind you as the elderly lady reaches out futilely as it swings past her hand.

At your home, courtesy can be just keeping your grass cut...but not at 7 am Sunday, shovelling your snow...and not piling it in front of your neighbour's driveway, watching out for the safety and well being of your community.

In an increasingly busy world, it can be challenging being patient. It is frustrating when it seems that by design a road, building, system or other human created plan appears to be set up specifically cause you to lose it.

But don't. Keep it together. Be patient, show courtesy. Don't go out of your way to be rude and obnoxious. It isn't cute acting like a brat. It is annoying. Use polite language, be prepared and take time to achieve your objectives and don't act like that you are the only one in the world.

Perhaps then courtesy would beget courtesy.

No comments: