Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rude Drivers and Little Old Ladies on Mopeds

Another rant. I am the sort of person that, when driving usually stops to let people past or out of side turnings, I let people cross the road and try not to flatten people who are crossing on zebra crossings. I try to avoid splashing people on the side of the road by driving at speed through puddles. I feel that I am reasonably educated road wise though I do for sure have my moments and I shout and gesticulate a lot when roused.

I have been noticing though how often, four times today alone, when you meet another car head on and somebody, me, has to give way, how nobody, or rarely anybody, acknowledges my gesture and drives past without even a glance. Sure, I don’t want people to get out of their cars and prostrate themselves in front of me (well I do really) as this might occupy too much time but a simple flip of the hand, or a smile or a nod would be enough.

It’s like when somebody holds the door open for you to pass. It’s a pleasing gesture. They hold the door, you hurry a little and say thanks or cheers or ta or something as you pass. All normal. Small courtesies that fade from memory before you next blink. When someone slams the door in your face as you are passing through on the other hand, that is something you do notice. That is something you remember all day in a niggly sort of way. So I keep noticing this annoying habit and I wonder what sort of people don’t acknowledge. Do they think that those of us who do stop are there for their personal benefit? That maybe they are a notch higher than us on the evolutionary ladder? Are they perhaps so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t notice when somebody stops to let them pass?

Today was a special day. Today, partly, my questions have been answered because I knew three of the four people involved. One owns a shop and another I meet regularly in a shop and the other I worked for for over a year. I have spoken on many occasions to them all. Two are chatty sort of people and not generally, from what I gather, rude. The third? No comment.

Today I took Tabatha to the pediatrician. While I was sitting in the waiting room the shopkeeper driver came out from the surgery strolled about a foot in front of me, looked at me and, without even breaking wind in my general direction, left. It was as though I had never existed and had never entered her shop. The second person today I met on a bend. She was stuck in the middle of the road so I had to reverse to let her pass. She sailed by without even a nod. This is nothing surprising because I meet her most mornings and it’s always the same. I long for the day that I am in a bad enough mood so that I can just sit in the car and not move, waiting for her to go back, just to see her reaction. The third meeting today was with a mega jeep, you know one of those american sort of truck-cars, wholly impractical for the tiny back roads in our village. The guy just kept coming stopping a yard in front of me and just looked at me obviously not recognising me with my hair short. I though he had recognised me and was playing, so I quite happily reversed. Then he accelerated away without even a smile. And Woozle, your general dogs body and slave, bowed his head and tugged his forelock reverently as he did so. It is so…. so…. Aggravating!! I imagine if any of the three had recognised me they would have waved or something. But why should general good manners depend on your recognising someone or not. So I have my answer maybe. Out of a familiar context it would seem that most people seem to be rude. The question now though, is why do people ordinarily not rude suddenly become rude ‘out of context’?

Anyway, to change the subject a little. Today I nearly killed a lady on a moped. She was coming round a corner in the middle of the road on the way down from our house, and at the same time looking behind her obviously saying ciao ciao to someone as she passed. The amazing thing is she kept looking, and kept coming at me. I had of course stopped dead and it was only when after she had traveled 5 or 6 meters like an owl with the back of its head forward that I peeped the horn. Then she turned her head, wobbled violently, put both feet down and as she rolled backwards to give herself enough turning space so that she could pass me, gave me a withering look which quite put me in my place. Again Woozle doffs his hat and tugs his forelock. Normality is hanging from a thread. Imagine if she, at her age, had slammed into the car. There was no way I could have reversed in time. Whose fault would it have been? Who might have been arrested for littleoldladyslaughter. Who would the authorities believe - the foreigner with cropped hair and camo trousers in a big (well relatively anyway) car or a little frail old lady on a moped?
It doesn’t bear thinking about.

On a more pleasant note This evening I saw a shrew. I always keep an eye out for them when I’m out walking but have only ever seen a handful in all my life. Today I was actually standing in the kitchen and one popped out of a hole, rushed down a stone and popped into another hole. It only took a fraction of a second and even the cat which was sitting in front of the door didn’t notice 'till it was too late. The hole it shot out of doesn’t seem to be a burrow but I’m not so well up on shrew dwelling typolgies so I’ll have to delay commenting until I have rectified my lacuna tomorrow.

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