snapshots of an idle mind

February 2, 2007


Filed under: driving,life,responsibility,socioanthropology,Uncategorized — sassinak @ 12:54 pm

i’ve been thinking about something lately as i watch the decline of common courtesy on the roads. interestingly as people get less and less willing to let people into their lane the congestion gets worse and worse. wish they’d notice that.

i’ve given away my copy of heinlein’s friday again or i could properly reference this but regardless he was heard to write that the signs of a dying society are dirty public restrooms and lack of common courtesy. this was actually a bit of a recurring theme with him.

at first i thought that was silly. that was too easy a thing to predict a dying culture wasn’t it?

except no i don’t think it was. manners are a lot more than holding doors for a lady (i think that comes from fashion… try opening a heavy ironbound ironwood door in a hoop skirt and corset) and saying please and thank you.

they also include letting people in in traffic if they signal and act polite. tossing your rubbish in the bin instead of the street. turning down the music late at night simply because you know they’re trying to sleep.

i mean i could go on for an hour about all the things that ‘common courtesy’ entail but then i would start getting depressed at the decline of the society that i live within. i would start to think that it’s hopeless and that i’d better find a way to move to the moon and fast.

but then you know, we’re not all the way there yet.

some people are still polite and some people are still considerate. a few people even think about the consequences of their actions.

so few people consider the ramifications of the actions they perform. they think only of what they want or need at that particular second and never even remember to look into traffic before stepping into it.

a lovely gentleman i met recently told me that he thinks it’s because we’ve lost our slowness. that time spent sitting on the back porch and watching the tumbleweeds after dinner where you think about your day.

‘gee i hope i didn’t hurt jim’s feelings when i said that to him earlier’

“got to remember to check on that horse in the morning, her trot looked a bit off”

‘wonder why the wife isn’t singing while she does the washing up tonight’

“i sure enjoyed that chat with the pharmacist, perhaps i’ll visit there again”

‘dangit! forgot to clean mah gun!’

“sure is peaceful and quiet out here”

“i wonder how aunt lil is gettin’ on, best be writin’ her a letter”


whatever, just thoughts about life and the things that happened in it that day. the ramifications of the things. the taking notice of the bits that might have slipped by otherwise.

and he thinks that because all anyone does now is think about themselves and fill up their time with activity that we’ve lost the power of reflection.

and i think he’s right.

i think that’s exactly what’s going wrong in the world, all this rampant egotism and celebrity worship leads to several billion people who don’t give a fuck about anythign but themselves.

how can that be anything but heavily toxic and fatal to our planet?

we live in a culture in which greed is given greater respect than wisdom or joy. where time is rendered irrelevant and following a path or healing or spirituality or teaching is less important or worthy than one that involves raping the planet and making buckets of money.

and still it comes back to consequences. no one ever thinks ‘but if i jump into traffic here going 50km/h slower than anyone else and force that suv to slam on the brakes then the guy in the minivan that’s tailgating him but fighting with his wife will rear-end him and then…’ because that isn’t easy. that’s the hard way to think, the one that involves anticipation and thinking ahead.

the one that involves sparing a small percentage of your thoughts to considering the effects of your behaviour on others. try it sometime… wait instead of cutting someone off. say thank you or please instead of NOW!

pay it forward, treat others as you would be treated. smile and use common courtesy. heck make common courtesy COMMON again!

that is all



  1. not bad advice at all. this is a lovely reason to sloooooooooooooow things down. :)

    Comment by kris — February 2, 2007 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  2. you can’t generalize like that. ‘common courtesy’ still exists, just not in big cities. people in places like Toronto do not associate negative consequences with behaving discourteously. small cities and towns are still inhabited by people who show consideration to others because these people do not feel that they and their behaviour are invisible. plus, especially in places like Toronto, people are from all over the world. we have culture clashes, we have culture intolerances, we have ‘don’t give a shitism’ happening. also, i think there are occasions when people are inadvertently rude because they are not ‘here’ they are pre-occupied, and they do stuff that annoys others. chillax. mind your own business. treat others graciously, in a way that communicates that you expect the best from them. you will be surprised a.) at how often people will live up to your expectations of them, and b.) how you won’t get into negative mindsets of your own since you will maintain a positive attitude towards others and c.) how if someone despite everything behaves badly, it is their problem and not yours. you can only be a positive force in the universe if you maintain positivism in yourself.

    Comment by gabi — February 2, 2007 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  3. Exactly! I live in New England in an area that is notorious for road warrior type drivers, and it’s just awful. I guess these powerless people feel that they can take out all their aggresions and take back their power on the road, even though they can’t do it in their everyday life. when I travel to other places I can’t believe it when someone let’s me cut in in traffic…I look at them and wonder if they are just setting me up for something… I always let others in because I figure..what’s the big deal and because I just like to slow down lately.

    Comment by lovemonkey — February 2, 2007 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

  4. *fiddles with Nero*

    What’s sad is that it’s not just happening with everyday people in everyday activities. How many grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants and retail outlets make considerate, friendly, helpful customer-service any kind of priority. Elected “leaders” routinely ignore the will of the people. Like you, I could go on and on.

    I’m a “thank you” guy — to waiters, cashiers, people who hold a door, etc. I say “bless you” or the equivalent when someone sneezes. When I sneeze, I say excuse me, as I do if I get a phone call while talking with another, if I really have to take it. If I don’t, I don’t take the call. I hold open doors. I also say “sir” and “ma’am” when addressing those older than me.

    Screw the inconsiderate! Let’s send them to manners camp, where they pick up trash and clean public toilets during the day, while learning common courtesy and respect for others at night.


    -10 points to myself for a complete lack of cohesive thought on this comment.

    Comment by DZER — February 3, 2007 @ 8:07 am | Reply

  5. i think this is a very eloquent blog entry. i agree that society is degenerating and we are in serious trouble and bad manners is a sign of this.

    i sorta think of over consumption and thoughtless polluting as CRASHINGLY bad manners…

    see you at hillside!

    “her gait looked off” seems like incorrect grammar to me. as a horsewoman i would think “her trot was a bit off. or her walk was. or that SHE looked off in all gaits. or something.

    Comment by kimlogue — February 3, 2007 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  6. Well I don’t drive. I’m continually amazed at how polite people are in this large city. Maybe its the neighbourhoods we live in?

    Once I was at a bus stop deep in the financial district and this very friendly guy struck up a conversation with me. I was a bit suspicious of the whole thing, but it turns out he was just a friendly guy.

    While we were talking a street person/guy (looked like he was an alcoholic) came up and asked for money. The guy I was with said: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out right now, but good luck to you.” The asker physically straightened up and stood taller. You could tell this man’s response had raised the street person’s self-esteem.

    I was so suspicious of this person’s friendliness, I ended up asking him where he was from because he couldn’t possibly be from this city. But he was.

    After this encounter I vowed to be a better, kinder person to all I meet. This one man raised the bar for everyone around him.

    I seem to meet a lot of people like this. Or maybe its the positive encounters I choose to focus on?

    Comment by clarity — February 4, 2007 @ 3:22 am | Reply

  7. I tend to mostly be polite. There are times when I’m rude and I know it. I do try to force please and thank you out of myself at those times because for me it’s part of karma. In general I hold dors, tip well, say please, thank you and appologise if I think I may have wronged or slighted someone. On most days people call me weird. Rather a nice label for the polite of today’s society. Many people think that makes me a avid churchgoer but I’m not.

    I’m not sure it has to do with speed as much as outwardness. Peopl are so tuned in to themselves, so turned in on their ownness that they don’t see/think/feel much about what’s around them at all.

    Comment by amber — February 4, 2007 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  8. I have definitely lost my slowness. I need to find it. I am not gonna gonna find it in my dissertation committee. I am not gonna find it in class. I am not gonna find it…you get the idea. I could find it in someone else. And I think I do. But then I get annoyed at this person’s lack of speed in certain areas. But that’s just me being used to the speed even though I know it’s not good and that this person really has a more balanced slowness to speed ratio. Am I making sense? I need to rest. I know this. I need a holiday. Or two.


    Comment by Natalia — February 5, 2007 @ 2:00 am | Reply

  9. Wow Sass. I always know that when I come to your blog I will leave with something more than when I got here but there are days when you amaze me……..this is one of those days.

    Comment by Kristen — February 5, 2007 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

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