I cannot determine if people are becoming more inconsiderate, even rude, when operating shopping carts in Kroger, driving automobiles, or using their turn signals.

This evening, while shopping in Kroger at Towne & Country, there seemed to be an air of “get the hell out of my way.”

I am always amazed, even appalled at those who walk in pairs down a shopping aisle, shoulder to shoulder, seemingly unaware that they are blocking others coming toward them. Some even become offended that they must budge when I am standing patiently, waiting for them to pass. I have always wondered what would happen if I refused to budge. Would they move? Would they risk having a grocery cart rammed into their thigh or hip?

My mother taught me to say, “excuse me” if I needed to pass in front of someone. At 45, I still excuse myself when walking in front of a fellow customer who is weighing a purchase selection. Tonight I was standing in my favorite aisle, surrounded by the breads, peanut butters, and jellies and jams. As I was looking at peanut butters, this lady stepped right in front of me – not passing in front of me, mind you – she stepped in front of me, stopped, and completely blocked my view of the peanut butters with her backside that looked like two buses trying to pass one another. There was no, “excuse me,” nor any indication that she had rudely stepped directly in front of me. I stood, somewhat impatiently, waiting for her to make a decision, wishing I could simply say, “Hey! Ms. Rudeness 2010, I was standing here trying to make a selection when you rudely stepped in front of me.” She walked away. I continued with my perusing, and as I leaned forward to reach for a particular jar, the same woman stepped right in front of me, pushing my arm out of the way. “Excuse me,” I said, with some uncharacteristic terseness. The woman looked at me, swapped her jars, and walked away.

I sauntered back through the meat department, heading towards the potato chip aisle, and a lady was pushing her cart alongside me, aimed in the same direction. When I arrived at my designated turn, I paused, allowing her to move on, which she did. I stepped into my aisle and the lady jerked her cart around, and cut in front of me, causing me to lose my footing. There was no acknowledgement, but she could not have missed the fact that had I not clumsily bolted out of her way she would have plowed me over.

Throughout the store, the majority of customers appeared to be anxious, even aggravated over the least little thing. I even checked to see if we were in a full moon cycle!

In the parking lot, I cautiously pulled out of my space, aware that a group of twenty-something ladies had just piled into their car. As I edged forward, the driver began backing out without turning to check her left side. Had I not honked, she would have rammed right into me. With the alert, she slammed on her brakes, turned and began waving her middle finger at me as though she had just received her Hogwarts’ acceptance letter!

As I drove the short distance from the Eichelberger Shopping Plaza (where Kroger is located) to the PNC Bank in Towne & Country Shopping Plaza (across the street – most people believe Kroger is actually a part of Towne & Country), I observed people caught in the steady flow of the post-work traffic. Some were courteous, allowing others to wedge into the traffic, but for the most part, it was an atmosphere as determined at getting ahead as any NASCAR event.

Now, I have to admit, I am the Turn-Signal-Nazi. Rarely do I miss the opportunity to use my turn signal, and generally do so with a little extra warning.  I even use the turn signal in parking lots – not just as a courtesy, but because it is also the law.

The code for Ohio Laws & Rules even specifies:

(A) No person shall turn a vehicle or trackless trolley or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such person has exercised due care to ascertain that the movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.

When required, a signal of intention to turn or move right or left shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle or trackless trolley before turning…

(B) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Effective Date: 01-01-2004; 09-21-2006

Very few drivers engaged their turn signals this evening – even when cutting between myself and the car two-car-lengths ahead! As usual, there were no cars behind me, and the impatient cutter could not wait for one more car to pass.

Then you have the gentleman driving west past Steinmart, refusing to stop as I am moving north with Marion’s Pizza just off to my left (I know all you Kettering folks can picture this). I completed my full stop, and proceeded through the intersection, and this gentleman, who merely made a rolling stop, attempted to cut me off. Instead, he was forced to screech to a halt, honking and cursing me. Once I was past, he raced through the dangerously narrow parking strip between PNC Bank and Marion’s Pizza (which is an area where it is difficult to see people exiting from between parked cars, or cars pulling out).

As I drove in front of Fairmont High School, with cars immediately behind me, I executed my intended left turn, in my usual place, toward the middle of East Unit – giving those following me ample time to prepare for my turn.

It is really simple. However, courtesy, even when it a traffic law, seems lost on so many. Whenever a young child utilizes courtesy, or good manners, I always reinforce their courtesy with a compliment – and one for the parents, as well!

So, good parents, continue teaching your children about courtesy, good manners, and how to use their turn signals!

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