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Let go of 'I go-centric' driving habits

By: Tim Cusack

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 06:00 am

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As a society, we Canadians are known for our politeness, kindness and acceptance of others. It is not uncommon for us to let someone go ahead of us in any form of lineup, be it at the grocery store, at the movies or at an all-you-care-to-eat buffet. Steeped in the tradition of standing patiently in line for a double double at Tim’s, the training ground for the aforementioned qualities, it would appear to the reasonably informed bystander that patience is truly a Canadian virtue. It is a virtue however that goes completely down the drain, like that pot of expired coffee, as soon as we sit behind the wheel of a motor vehicle or try to exit an aircraft.

When I was a young lad driving the highways and byways of the Maritimes, where admittedly life’s pace was a little slower, I very quickly learned that age-old etiquette of “you go – I go.” It is an unwritten rule of the road whereby if I see that a line of vehicles ahead needs to merge into my lane, I will let one in and then I will proceed. “You go – I go” becomes an established pattern that expedites flow and alleviates the situation. Sadly however, particularly in this part of the world, there are those narcissistic drivers who still believe that the sun revolves around them and the rules do not apply.

Far too often I see these inconsiderate egocentrics taking advantage of the poor kind soul who wishes to allow one vehicle ahead to merge into his or her lane. Often there are two or three vehicles that attempt to veer in expecting to get where they need to go. “You go – I go” goes out the window accompanied by honking horns, colourful metaphors and multilingual hand gestures.

Our Alberta default seems to be “I go – screw you.” When etiquette is eliminated from the driving equation, no one is safe. Admittedly, as good natured as I am, I must confess that when the wheels fall off of the “you go – I go” system, and the gridlock grinds to a halt, I contemplate the merits of a good old fashioned demolition derby. Then I remember that courtesy is best paid forward and seek to continue my mission to teach “you go – I go” to the world.

“You go – I go” also works well when deplaning. Most people know that the aircraft empties from the front and that the rows are numbered for that reason. Yes, there are those folks who will sit and wait for others to get off the plane first, yet, there are those “I go-centric” types who, from several rows behind, bowl you out of the way before you have even had a chance to open your overhead bin!

They do not realize that with a little order and patience and heaven forbid … discipline, that “you go – I go” means “we all get to go” and most likely a little sooner than through the self-serving method of organized chaos.

Our society is simply to too egocentric. I take delight when I see someone extending kindness and courtesy to others. I strive to model this in my daily encounters and want to hold myself accountable to try to make a positive difference even if just to one other person today. Who knows, perhaps that person you let ahead of you today is the person who pays it forward by buying your coffee at the drive-thru. With “you go – I go” we all travel a little further down the road of kindness.

Tim Cusack is an educator, writer and serving member of the naval reserve.


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