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Friday, June 17, 2011

The 10 "Demandments"


Generally my commentaries center on political issues affecting Newfoundland and Labrador but today I’ve decided to stray a little from the norm.

The common thread throughout my ranting and raving is vigilance for ensuring we continue to live in the best place on the face of the planet. This commentary is no different in that regard but it’s a departure from the big picture issues like our treatment by Ottawa or how well the provincial government is managing our future. This one is written with tongue firmly planted in cheek while looking at the day to day interaction we all have with one another.

When you get right down to it the quality of life we have here is not only affected on those who govern us but also by how well we all get along with each other. I hope you’ll read these 10 “Demandments” in the light hearted manner they were written but also seriously consider some of the advice they offer.

The 10 “Demandments”

With little or no law enforcement in small town Newfoundland & Labrador and nowhere to hide when personalities clash, the survival of communities depends in part on common sense when dealing with others.

Anyone growing up in that kind of environment learns through experience how to best get through the day with the least amount of aggravation or disturbance.

It’s a simple. The person you inadvertently piss off today may be the same person you need to rely on tomorrow and even if you don’t, you’re bound to cross paths again in short order.

With that in mind, here are a few simple lessons for some of the “Townies” out there. This list is by no means complete but I know that many of the points it makes are not necessarily top of mind for a number people I’ve had the dissatisfaction of coming across in my time.

1. First of all please stop referring to everyone from outside the overpass as a “Bayman”. We aren’t, at least not all of us. I was raised in Bishop’s Falls where the only body of water within miles was the Exploits River. No bay, no harbour and no inlet. I’m not a “Bayman” (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and never was. In return, if you refrain from using the term in my presence, I promise to stop calling you “Townie” or “Corner Boy”.

2. On a related note, as a St. John’s resident please don’t always assume that just because something seems like a good idea it’s automatically good for the entire province (provincial subsidies for pro sports teams spring to mind). Most towns in the province are so far in debt they can barely afford to fill their potholes with recycled newspapers and used bubble gum let alone aspire to laying hands on re-melted asphalt from some abandoned driveway. Sports teams and George Street refurbishments aren’t on the top of their list when it comes to spending tax dollars. Remembering that might be a good thing.

3. Elevator etiquette. When waiting for an elevator please try to be courteous and let people exit before barging through the doors. It’s far easier for you to get in, and them to get out, if you show a little restraint.

4. Bathroom etiquette. This is essentially the opposite of elevator etiquette. With this version you allow those entering the bathroom to do so rather than making them wait for you to exit. The reason for this should be self evident to those who would like to avoid a messy situation but just so we’re clear, you’ve done your business, they haven’t, so they should get priority.

5. Nobody likes getting stuck in traffic so do what you can to help ease the congestion. When you are driving toward a traffic light or a long line of jammed up traffic and see someone attempting to make a turn across your path or get out of a driveway stop and let them go. It’s a no brainer. You know you can’t get anywhere until that light changes or the traffic clears so why deny someone else the opportunity to get where they need to go? Is it just spite?

6. If you work in the service industry as a waitress, hotel clerk, store clerk or the like please don’t lash out at a “Baymen” simply because he says something like “Thanks Dear” or “No problem my darling”. It’s just a way of speaking and a form of friendliness on their part, nothing more. We know you aren’t our “Darling” or “Dear” so get over yourself. (I know one particular food service worker in St. John’s who really needs to take this point to heart.)

7. Remember that your car isn’t a restraining device. The next time you crave a Tim Horton’s don’t block the street while waiting to enter the drive through. If you park your car on the lot and walk into the shop the coffee will taste just as good. As an added bonus you’ll probably be in and out a heck of a lot faster and without aggravating half the city.

8. When you make a stupid mistake like cutting off another driver don’t add insult to injury by also giving them a dirty look or, worse yet, flipping them the finger like it was their fault. Be a man (or woman) about it and mouth an apology if you can. I promise it won’t hurt as much as you think and it may keep you from getting a baseball bat refurbishment to your headlights.

9. Speaking of headlights, your high beams are intended to provide better visibility over longer distances and night. They were never meant for you to blind oncoming drivers with. Try to remember that.

10. Finally, grocery stores are for buying groceries, not socializing while blocking the entire aisle. While I’m at it, is there really any need to park your cart dead centre aisle while looking for the right brand of beans? If you must do either of these things at least have the decency to move aside when you see someone (yes, we know you see us) trying to get past your location. Oh, and by the way, the rules of the road apply in stores as well. When you’re travelling the aisles please stay to the right. Unless you’re shopping in downtown London the left side of the aisle is for oncoming traffic.

That’s about it for now but I’m sure I’ll find more to make me shake my head and fondly reminisce about small town Newfoundland with each passing year.

Till next time...keep your head held high and your chin up (it’ll make it easier for me to remember your face after you tick me off).

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