Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Motoring Manners

I know there are a lot of complaints about aggressive drivers in Fort Mac, and I've witnessed it too. You know what bugs me even more than aggression, though? Rudeness. Yes, just plain rudeness.

I drive down Thickwood Boulevard almost daily, and every day there is that merge onto the 63. Some days traffic flows like melted butter and you can smoothly blend into the other lanes. Other days, though, it's a challenge. Most days I'm delighted to find that someone will slow down and allow me to merge in. I know legally they are required to allow me to merge and can't deliberately try to block me, but I'm still always grateful. I always, always give them a little wave or flash of my hazards to say thank you. You know what frosts me, though? When I return the favour to someone else, slow way down, let them in...and they zoom on in front of me without a thank you or backward glance.

Look, I know they don't have to thank me. In fact we don't have to thank each other for anything ever, or say please, or hold doors open for other people, but we do it because it improves social interactions. It builds a sense of goodwill between us as people. It makes us feel good.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect people to behave with good manners. In fact expecting them not to just gives them a free pass to behave badly. When someone waves their thanks to me from their car I've been known to smile and say "You're welcome!" out loud even though I know they don't hear it. Just that small act of gratitude brightens my day for a moment, though, and thus has an impact on me, too.

Fort Mac could use a lot more exercise in the good manners department. In fact I challenge every reader of this post : Next time someone lets you into traffic thank them, especially if you don't usually do so. I'm willing to bet it puts a smile on your face, and makes you smile even more the next time someone waves their thanks to you when you've let them merge in. Oh, and if you're one of those people who refuse to let people merge in and who will deliberately drive faster to block someone? I guess I kind of give up on you - you're pretty much past all hope of good manners, aren't you? It's never too late to reform, though. Give it a shot. You never know - you might actually get a wave or two. That kind of thing can be addictive. See ya on the 63, people.

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