Thursday, June 10, 2010

Extending courtesy

Why do people sometimes go far out of bounds when they've been extended a courtesy, to the point where you wonder if they are actually taking advantage of the situation. Shouldn't the parameters be set by the one offering the courtesy? Perhaps, it's just the nature of people to not understand this concept. After all, in many situations we react based on our own thoughts and perceptions. Since we think something would be ok for someone else to do if we were offering the courtesy, we assume (incorrectly) that it's perfectly appropriate for us to do the same when a courtesy is extended to us.

I guess this is the result of our ego-centric view of the world which likely only gets further narrow as we get older unless we work to continue to empathize and see situations from the view points of others.

The situation that prompted this post, came from a bike ride I took this afternoon. I took the daughter out and hit the trail in my usual spot. About halfway through my ride there is a covered bridge that has a corner at the beginning of it, the visibility is a bit poor due to the corner, as I came around the corner, there was an elderly couple who was spread out across the bridge with their two poodles, the direction they were walking was opposite of the direction I was going. The older gentlemen grumbled and said I should slow down, although I had fully applied the break at this point. Typically, I wouldn't want an argument, but blatant idiocy pushes me beyond normal levels. I advised him rather loudly that if he was following the rules of the trail (and for that matter travel throughout the United States) then he and his companion in fact were the ones in the wrong here and needed to be on the right hand side of the trail (for them). As I continued the ride (and as my blood pressure calmed down), I thought of the phrase "respect your elders" and how it would be likely that the walker might be considering it too and how in fact I did not 'respect' them.

Fair enough, perhaps I didn't, but there are a number of reasons why I would consider it a courtesy and one that is extended rather then guaranteed.

1. Being old does not mean you don't have to follow the same rules as the rest of us, just because you are old does not excuse your ignorance or that you choose to ignore them.

2. Respect is earned not given, when you decided to try and lay the blame on me, you lost my respect.

3. Giving my respect to elders I do not know is a courtesy I extend. I'm fairly reasonable with it, as I'll overlook the walking side by side and taking up most of the path, or the fact that your ankle biting, barking poodles are aggressive and seem to jump at me or any others on the other days I've seen you and them on the trail, but that courtesy ends at those things.

The couple's actions not only put themselves in danger, but since my daughter was with me put her in danger as well.

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