I gave up making resolutions for the new year many years ago, but I’m inspired this year because of several comments from my wife while we were in traffic just before Christmas. She pointedly noted that my language had slipped into the use of expletives when I drove in traffic and, worst of all my use, had increased by 10 or 20-fold.
I love to use the full range of our language and have often excused my ‘colourful’ terminology as fully exploring its potential by choosing exactly the right words and phrases to clearly comment on behaviour and driving skills.
My wife is no slouch in making pointed remarks — the difference is hers are generally acceptable in any audience, including children and grandmothers. Among her favourites is, ‘I didn’t get the memo that today is drive-stupid day.’
So I’ve made this resolution — by the end of 2011, I will have substantially cleaned up my language so as not to be an embarrassment to her. To accomplish the objective I need your help.
Will you please pay attention when you drive? Even simple things would help — get out of your world and look down the road two or three vehicles ahead, use you turn signals when changing lanes, quit tailgating, do the speed limit, either slow down or speed up and don’t forget to adjust for road conditions. Show some manners and consideration for other drivers, don’t hang in my blind spot when my signal light is on — I’m looking to change lanes. Make sure your signal light turns off after you’ve made your turn or lane change and don’t ‘slingshot’ from behind me at corners. Do these simple things and I promise to return the favours!
Secondly, will you please stop thinking that the best place to rid yourself of empty coffee cups, hamburger wrappers, fries and cigarette butts is wherever you are? Don’t simply open your hand and drop them when you think you’re finished; you’re not done until your garbage ends up in a garbage can. The rest of us aren’t here to pick up after you or your dog … or your cat, come to think of it. You bought it, you walk it and you let it out at night; take care of business for crying out loud.
Lastly, wherever you are, be aware of the rest of us in your general vicinity. ‘Excuse me,’ works very well, ‘please and thank you’ can improve service and please just think about taking your hat off in every restaurant, even if you’re just having coffee.
It would help if in public you improve your language as well, as a gesture of general respect to those around you. I really don’t want to have to come over and tell you exactly what I think of you.
Of course maybe it’s just me.
Andy Michaelson is a St. Albert author and poet.