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Uncommon courtesy


There is a subspecies of men who suffer from an uncontrollable weakness. 

When they find themselves in a public washroom, their arms and hands lose all strength to the point that they cannot even lift the toilet seat, forcing them to hose the entire place down, leaving the situation behind for whichever unfortunate comes to the bathroom next.

Their atrophied appendages apparently have become so weakened that they cannot even gather handfuls of toilet paper to clean up their own mess.

They are to be pitied.

At least, that's the best possible face you can put on it.

The only other explanation is that there are people among us who are so full of self-importance that everyone else naturally deserves to deal with their urine.

The fact is that it is not really a wasting disease. It's a matter of choice.

If the Tim Hortons drive-thru line is full right out to the road, you can choose to sit in the left-hand turn lane and wait until there is space for your vehicle in the line - or you can choose to block two lanes of traffic with your truck while you wait for space in the lineup, because, of course, you and your need for coffee are more important than anyone else on the road.

You can choose to berate the wait-staff at a restaurant loudly and at length because your eggs have been poached for too long, embarrassing or even humiliating another human being, or you can simply and politely ask for another order.

You can hold up the grocery store line to take that cellphone call while the conveyor rolls along empty, your cart full but unloaded, while, behind you, the lineup grows restive and thinks wistfully about where they'd like to stuff your vegetables. Or you can simply say, "I'll give you a call back."

All of these situations have something in common - and what that is, is the basic human societal concept of courtesy. It's the conscious effort to put yourself in someone else's shoes, to imagine their experience and to do your level best to ensure that your behaviour doesn't affect the lives of other people.

It seems, these days, to be something of stretch. Particularly in Western culture, we've been taught that what matters is not the good of society, but our own personal good. John F. Kennedy once said: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Instead, we now asked what everyone, from government on down, is going to do for us.

These are selfish times.

We have become the centres of our own universe, and everyone else's time and experience is deemed to be secondary to our own.

It's spring. Let's all try to turn over a new leaf, one that recognizes that, as individuals, we are not the single most important and entitled persons on God's green Earth.

And please, please, take five seconds to learn to lift the seat. It's not that hard.

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