Thursday, January 13, 2011

Courtesy and the Dodo

            I’ve been wondering in recent years if courtesy isn’t going the way of the Dodo. What used to be called “common courtesy” doesn’t seem all that common nowadays.
            Nowhere is the lack of courtesy more evident than on our roads. I’m often reminded of a Disney cartoon I saw as a child in which Goofy was a mild-mannered individual who changed when he got behind the wheel of his car. Then he sprouted Beelzebub-like horns and became a devil, rude and obnoxious to his fellow motorists.
            I am constantly astounded by the rude and thoughtless, not to mention downright dangerous, driving I witness daily on our roads. Here are a few of my favourite offenders: the Roundabout Sailor, Mister Catch-Up, Speed-Up Gonzalez, the Anti-Kerouac, Toots and the MayGoes and Master Kill-Your-Kids.
The Roundabout Sailor sails through roundabouts without giving way or even looking whether he/she needs to give way. This individual relies on dumb luck to survive.
Mister Catch-Up is very territorial and even though he is a long way off when you pull out from a side road, he accelerates ridiculously to tailgate you and thereby express his displeasure.
Speed-Up Gonzalez likes to speed up to block you so that you cannot change lanes even though you have been indicating this intention since the Second World War.
The Anti-Kerouac likes to get On The Road in front of you, in first gear and doing 10 km/h, even though he/she could have waited 30 seconds to occupy the miles of empty road behind you.
Toots and the Maygoes aren’t chilled out like their counterparts on the Jamaican reggae scene because they toot their horns the millisecond the light goes green. I’m driving an old Toyota Corolla, Toots, not an F-18 fighter!
Master Kill-Your-Kids, a sub-species of Boyus Racerus, speeds at 100km/h down your quiet suburban street with no thought to the impetuous pre-schooler who may chase an errant ball on to the road. You can spread speed-humps around like chaff in the wind, but Master is like dirty engine oil always looking for somewhere to leak.
No doubt you can think of other examples and perhaps, like me, you dream of a day when courtesy would sweep like a contagious virus through our driving population and motoring could be a pleasure.

The author wishes to acknowledge The Press in whose "Good Living" Liftout this article first appeared.

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