The Unspoken Road Rules

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

In my opinion, there are certain unspoken road rules. These are rules that are never formally taught, and have no relationship to the legalities of driving. Rather they are rules that revolve around basic driving courtesy, respect, and consideration for fellow road users.

Most of these rules we aren’t even aware of… Until somebody in our immediate vicinity places us at the receiving end of their disregard for them. At this point I am often surprised at some of the words escaping my lips, and even more so at my fluency in gesticulation. The irritation, anger, anxiety and distraction caused by my inconsiderate fellow road users completely eradicates the calm, focused headspace I should be employing while I’m behind the wheel.

I’m referring, of course to things like how when you are unfamiliar with a particular road, or are looking for an address for the first time, do not creep along at a fraction of the speed limit while cars (or, indeed, car) back up behind you. Courtesy suggests pulling over and letting the other drivers pass. They may have places to go, and, let’s face it, you are likely to feel less stressed without them pressuring you from behind. And when someone pulls over for you, put a friendly hand up, flash your hazards, and say “thank you.”

Speaking of pressure from behind is the flip side of that coin. If somebody is driving slower than your liking by sticking to the speed limit or, heaven’s forbid, driving to the conditions, cuddling their bumper is inappropriate. Better yet (and I have experienced this one first hand), if you almost collide with said bumper – twice – because you are not paying attention and are just too close, do not show me the finger out of your window. This is totally uncool behaviour! I recently learned a trick for the moments when Jensen Button is on your tail, trying to prove a point: I can be equally rude, and can choose to slow down…just a little…making the experience just a tiny bit more annoying for you. (I did not employ this tactic during the “almost tasted my bumper – twice” – incident.)

Stick to your side of the road. Okay, this one might actually be legally required, last time I checked anyway. I live on a very narrow, windy, country road. You would think because you can’t see around the next bend that it would encourage drivers even more to stick to their side of the road. It doesn’t! And you’d think that when they saw you coming around the corner directly towards them, they’d very back into their own lane. They don’t! I think road-hogging is rude.

What is worse than rude is bullying! If you drive a bigger vehicle than mine (4 x 4, motorhome, truck), do not for a second believe that gives you more right on the road than I have. In fact, considering that I am using far less energy to run my perfectly ample 1300, you might want to afford me a little grace. Bigger cars are frequently bullies. And they interfere with my visibility. Maybe they are too big to see me. Should that be legal? A further note on bullying, I think blaring your music with all your windows down and forcing your beats to take precedence over mine is arrogant. I don’t like your music – if I did I’d be listening to it, wouldn’t I. Don’t force it on me, I don’t force my tastes on you.

And finally, when you make the accidental driving faux pas, and we all make them from time to time, at least try to look apologetic. When you don’t see the pedestrian about to cross at the crossing, when you forget that it’s the other persons turn, when you do move a little over onto their side of the road, when you have an “oops” moment, put a little hand up, show your apologetic face, and acknowledge your wrong. It is not cool to, focus directly in front of you, put your nose a little higher in the air, and blank the person you have just wronged. After all they can see your embarrassment and you look more the fool.

There you have it. Just a little bit of courtesy, just a little bit of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and thinking about how you’d like to be treated in that position. It’s no doubt the very cure to our rising road rage epidemic. Plus, you will feel better, arriving at your destination with stress free.

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In Defence of the Defenceless or How I Lost a Weekend to a Rooster

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

I rent a house on 25 acres in the country. Part of my country living, for about 8 months now, has been Doo, a strapping rooster that turned up one day from a neighbouring farm and decided, with all the lush food my garden had to offer him, that he’d make himself at home. Anyone who has ever lived in close quarters with a rooster will know two things: roosters have fantastic personalities, and they can make a lot of noise. They’re roosters! What do you expect?

My gripe at the moment is the lack of compassion of so many people for defenceless creatures great and small. An additional dwelling on my property serves as a holiday home rental for the landlords. Guests staying there last week, friends of the landlords, laid a complaint against our acquired rooster, saying that he crowed too much in the morning. The result? A call from the landlord telling us to get rid of it by whichever means necessary.

Needless to say I lost a weekend to the stress of this situation. He was not our rooster to “dispose” of, firstly, secondly neither my significant other nor I had any problem with Doo – in fact he had become part of our lives. I weaped, I ranted, I stayed up all night worrying about this poor defenceless creature whose personality I’d grown attached to.

I was enraged for a few reasons, and disheartened because I was reminded of the people who are what’s wrong with this world. I was enraged because this is the country – if you choose a holiday in the country, expect country noises, like roosters. I was enraged because do not use your power of connection to get what you want, that is not fair. I was enraged because we are the permanent residents on this property and our thoughts, feelings, desires at no point were considered by either vacationers or landlord. I was enraged because it was we, the soft-hearted, compassionate, respectful people who had no beef with the beautiful cockerel, who had to frighten him as we tried to catch him, and had to look into his eyes as he could not move in his cage, and had to listen to his frightened, confused mutterings as we transported him, and had to worry about whether or not he’d survive in his new home. I was enraged because nobody, except us, stopped to consider the real owners of the rooster and nobody stopped to consider the rooster. Finally, I am enraged because the landlord lied to us in order to “pull rank” on us, using his power against us, reliable, helpful, generous tenants.

Yes, he is a rooster, but who is to say that he is any less worthy than we? Who are we to decide whether he lives or dies just because he is making the noise that roosters make. I grow wild at this lack of consideration and compassion. There is a book that states we are meant to be looking after this planet, and all of its inhabitants. When did so many people forget?

We found Doo a delightfully lush new home, close to us so that we can visit, and in an area where he will enjoy the company (and titbits) of local visitors and campers. He seems happy and settled, and we rest easy knowing that we have handled the situation in the most humane way possible. We rest easy until we are, once again, called on to defend the defenceless.

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Ring-Ring… Ring-Ring… Ring-Ring

January 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

Remember the “olden days”, the days of yore, the days when if we wanted to connect with someone via the telephone we had to ring their home number and if there was no answer we had to call back later. Ok, so this was actually not that long ago. In fact it was so recently that I can remember it quite clearly (and I’m not that old).

Then? Then came the cellular phone. To be fair originally I think they may have been bricks in cell-phone clothing, but nonetheless they arrived to make our lives easier, to enable people to connect more regularly and with greater efficiency. I can remember my first cell-phone: a gorgeous little Nokia, latest model at the time – one I had to save up money from my first job out of school for, after all, in those days people in school did not have cell-phones and instead spoke to each other.

Now, if it were not for the access my cell-phone gives me to my loved ones flung far across the country – the world – I would send it in for recycling and laugh all the way home. Why? Simply because other people expect us to be at the beck and call of the grand master cell-phone, and more and more I am aware of how annoyed people become when you choose not to answer their calls and either they have to leave a message, or they have to get back to you via email.

I am a grand believer in remaining the boss of my cell-phone, I believe that is healthy and that is my right. I do not have to answer every call, and I do not have to respond immediately if a message is left. If I am busy working, I will continue working; if I am busy exercising or doing yoga, I will continue to do so; if I am busy with someone else, I will get back to you; if I am just not in the mood for “that” conversation” or to talk to someone I don’t know, that is my prerogative. The flip side of that is, if you are exactly who I’d like to catch up with, or be distracted by, or “just because”, I can choose to answer.

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Like a see-saw constantly trying to re-centre itself, just as callers grow more impatient with my voicemail message, so I grow more determined to ignore the ringing in my ears. It is a determination to hold onto my time and decide how I spend it, and a determination to decide what the priority in my life is at any given moment. My sincerest apologies if this inconveniences you in any way, but please leave me a message (or better yet, send me an email) and I’ll endeavour to get back to you as soon as I can!

How to take your Yoga off your mat

November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

The lessons we learn on our yoga mats are far more than a routine set of physical postures and breathing techniques. These lessons teach us: about ourselves, how to treat ourselves, how to respond in new ways to that which confronts us, and how to be more present. In effect, these lessons teach us how to live our lives. All that we learn on the mat in yoga class can be infiltrated into every corner of our lives, thereby opening ourselves up to increased health and happiness on a day-to-day basis.

Here are a few ways to live your yoga off your mat:

  • Embrace self-acceptance
  • Just be – observe the beauty in all things
  • Stop struggling and practice acceptance – accept each moment as it is
  • Keep moving through it and remember it will pass
  • Wherever you go offer the gift of a smile, compliment, or encouraging word
  • Accept everything you receive with gratitude
  • Where possible be of service to others…
  • …but not at a disservice to yourself
  • Express your unique talents and share them with others
  • Practice responsible decision making, contemplating (and owning) the consequences of your choices
  • Eat consciously
  • Enjoy every moment that life has to offer (and let go of the outcome)
  • Let go of the need to control – become content with uncertainty, be open to possibilities, and cultivate curiosity
  • Be realistic about the time you have available and rather do less with more zest
  • Know that you’re allowed to say “no” – look after yourself first
  • Practice patience with yourself and others
  • Practice love and kindness to yourself and others
  • Say it with love
  • If you need it, ask for help
  • When you’re struggling to balance, put one foot down
  • Practice courage
  • Remember to breathe

Mobility Scooter Ramblings

July 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

A long time have I sat shaking my head as I watch elderly men and woman scoot around cities, towns, suburbs on their mobility scooters. I shake my head in despair at said elderly’s inability to observe road rules and regulations, and in wonder that they are still alive and kicking in spite of this.

I’ve noticed, repeatedly, that mobility scooter riders seldom look around for traffic prior to crossing roads, driveways, or pedestrian crossings. Instead they just continue on their journey forward without so much as a peripheral glance. There seems to be a blatant disregard for surrounding traffic, and an unspoken presumption that they, without doubt, have right of way. Well, I didn’t get that memo. Silly me, I surmised that, because they are ambling along the pavement, standard pedestrian rules automatically apply. When I drive, I anticipate the unthinking acts of others, and I always pause to assess what the mobility scooter will do before proceeding.  Not every driver is bound to be so prepared – so be prepared on your scooters, folks, and look around!

A further note: I recently witnessed the other side of that coin and it left me in despair for another reason altogether. I observed an old woman on her scooter sat waiting to cross a pedestrian crossing, a crossing that walking pedestrians seldom pause at. I pitied her as car after car drove through the crossing without a moments hesitation, not noticing the patiently waiting old woman. Perhaps the lack of acknowledgment for vehicle drivers has stemmed from the medicine already dished?

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