Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can You Tell I Went Out on Black Friday?

I'm Alaskan, so I know what it feels like to walk shivering and miserable through ice fog while people zip by in their toasty warm cars. Much of my youth was spent hunkered down in my parka, trudging along the side of the road, on my way to school or the library or a friend's house. My consequent sympathy for pedestrians has turned me into one of those annoying drivers who stops in the middle of a parking lot to let people walk in front of her. I'm in a warm car; they're not—I don't mind waiting a second while they cross to a heated building's welcoming arms. Sometimes, though, I'm sorry I've bothered to slow down.

It really chaps my hide when a guy literally swaggers in front of my car like he's the coolest cat in the world. He won't make eye contact with me; in fact, he acts like I'm not even there and he's got all the time in the world to stroll through the cold. He's a tough guy. No coat in the middle of winter, but he doesn't have to hurry. No sirree.

Then there are the teenage girls who purposely slow down once I've stopped to let them cross. Almost like they're proving what a sucker I am. Burn! We rule, you drool. Watch us sashay and talk on our cell phones while we completely ignore you, old lady.

But most of the time, people are really appreciative. They'll flash me a smile or mouth, "Thank you." Oftentimes they'll send me a friendly wave or even break into a little trot just to let me know that they don't want to keep me. Those are my kind of peeps. Offer them a little kindness, and you'll receive a little back.

So if you're ever walking across a busy parking lot and someone stops for you, let them know you've noticed. You don't have to fall prostrate on the ground and raise your hands in worship. A brief nod is more than sufficient, and your small acknowledgment just might determine whether that driver ever makes a friendly gesture again.

Dinner last night: turkey soup, rolls

Exactly one year ago today:


Anonymous said...

I loved the way drivers in Oregon would always stop in shopping mall parking lots to let you walk across, even if you weren't using a proper crossing. Really civilised :o) Bizarrely the rule allowing drivers to turn through a red light meant that pedestrians had much to fear on regular roads - suddenly you became invisible! We did a fair bit of traffic dodging! I always wave and smile to courteous drivers like yourself :)

Michele said...

I always nod or mouth "thank you."

Did you ever NOT want cars to let you cross, because you are crossing with a stroller, parcels, and a passel of kids and it takes SO LONG that you'd rather wait until no cars were waiting?

Our 13yo son is very conscientious about letting cars and pedestrians go ahead of us. It's very humbling and chastening when this boy says, "Mom! Why didn't you let that person GO?" I'm usually so wrapped up in my thoughts or my hurry that I don't even notice.

When I am conscious of it, my policy is usually to defer, especially to walkers, especially mothers, especially in bad weather. As long as there's nobody bleeding to death in my car, what's another 10 seconds?

What makes me laugh is when pedestrians break into a feeble little half-trot for a few steps, then fall back into an ambling pace. What is that, really? Yeah, look at me hurrying. Okay, that's enough exertion for one day.

What's even worse is when the pedestrian with the feeble half-trot is ME.

Quadmama said...

I'm of the same mindset... I'm in a warm car, they're not. I always try to give a little wave when someone stops for me. If I have my girls with me, though, I usually wave the car through because sometimes it can take awhile for all of us to cross.

twinmamabee said...

Completely agree - I always mouth "thank you". It is just the right thing to do.

Sadly, I see more people try to accelerate to get by pedestrians so they don't have to wait. It annoys me, but when there are little ones involved, I am ready to jump on the back of their car...just saying...

Helene said...

AMEN!!! I say that all the time!! When I stop to let people walk in front of my car, and they don't even do so much as glance my way, it pisses me off. It's just a common courtesy thing, am I right?

I also hate those drivers who you let cut in front of you and then they don't even bother to gesture a thank-you to you.

Okay, vent over. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one annoyed by this.