Somehow in the hustle and bustle of life we have forgotten our manners.
Once I used to be a flat-out jogger but my knees started giving me trouble. So, unable to jog, I walked, but long distances and fast. Jogging or walking, I was always aware of the rules of the footpath – keep to the left (in Australia), and overtake on the outside.
I’ve pretty well always been a lone jogger or walker, but on the odd occasion I jogged with my hero, the rule was that he would accompany me on the outside because he was a gentleman and if anyone appeared from opposite direction, he would move behind me to give them room.
Lately, because I have finally succumbed to Facebook, I’ve been reading the thoughts of women who are not baby boomers like me. Younger women seem to be more aware of their rights than they are of their manners. Common courtesy is seen as an insult. If a man offers a woman a seat on a bus, he is being insulting. Really? I would like to be so insulted.
I was brought up to offer a seat to anyone whose age or disability qualified them before me, but I could be eighty and crippled these days and watch young people occupying seats they see as first-come, first-served. Similarly, when I go for my daily walk, I can be crowded off the footpath. I was consistently bumped (I’m invisible because of the colour of my hair) until I realised that I can’t let these young boors take advantage of my good manners. And I’m writing this because not very long ago I did so again.
If I had kept walking forwards, the gen-xer coming toward me would have been forced into a prickly bush. So, I stopped before I reached the bush and gave her a clear lone path through. If I’d kept walking, and nothing is surer than she would have too, she would have been scratched. If we ever meet in that place again, because she didn’t acknowledge my courtesy, I won’t give way to her. She saw my giving way to her as my problem rather than my consideration.
I have always respected my elders – even when I was a know-all teenager but the story I hear now is that people have to earn respect rather than be granted it because of their age. Presumably, forty year-olds don’t mind twenty year-olds telling them how to do their job and twenty year-olds will expect to be left standing on a bus too because the seats will all be occupied by five year-olds, who would likely be quicker to get to the seats. This of course doesn’t happen. The forty, twenty and five year-olds all take comfortable seats and I stand, or that’s what happened last time I took a bus, some years ago. This is why I don’t take buses. I drive or walk.
These days, when I walk, I say ‘good morning’ to everyone I approach and I move straight ahead. Everyone peels out of my way. That’s what my face says – move out of my way because I’m not moving out of yours.
Oh, except if you are infirm or older than me. I can’t forget my upbringing.