CHRISTIAN COMMENT: Manners Please!

After writing last time about how great local people can be, I have had a few experiences to tell you about.

The very next day I was in a charity shop and my little girl saw a fluffy toy rabbit which had still not been sold since our last visit, so I encouraged her to ask how much it was.

She found out it was £1 – much agony ensued.

Was it worth her giving up one whole pound when she doesn’t have much cash?

Meanwhile the rabbit was looking at her pleadingly, and it was exceptionally fluffy with large floppy ears and no home to go to.

Then, to our astonishment, an older gentleman joined in the conversation, saying: “Well I’ll happily give a pound for a fluffy rabbit!” to which we both went a bit pink and felt completely taken aback!

Needless to say we left with the rabbit, full of thanks and unusually warm feelings.

How easy it is to make somebody’s day!

Contrast this with later in the week: I was a fraction late driving through a yellow light and two women in their car had to wait for a nano second before turning right in a supposedly slow residential area.

You would have thought I had just threatened to gouge out their livers, the way they reacted.

It was a tidal wave of full on aggression, complete with gestures, obscenities and yelling out of the window.

I made a tiny mistake and I said sorry and nobody was in danger.

Don’t get me wrong, I know we all have bad days and I have myself on many occasions felt like shoving something somewhere in road-related incidents but really… can we all just take a breath…?!

Spare a thought for vicars who wear dog collars – I bet they are blasted if they display anything less than exemplary behaviour 24/7. Don’t worry vicar, we aren’t expecting you to be perfect really!

But back to the road rage: what makes it OK to behave like that just because you’re in a car?

If I strolled too slowly round Tesco would you consider RAMMING me with your trolley and swearing at the top of your voice in my face?

If I accidently ambled across you whilst walking along a pavement, then said “oops, sorry, excuse me!” would you fancy sounding a claxon for several seconds by my ear just to make it clear I had inconvenienced you?

No, so why do we justify it when we are behind a wheel?

It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Whenever we get a snow day here in Worthing suddenly people drive so politely.

“After you!” they gesture. “No, please, after you…”

We’re smiling, waving, maybe even popping out of the car to help.

But once the white stuff melts it’s back to normal – don’t giggle or make eye contact please, we’re in a huge important rush, and mustn’t be antagonised.

The “summer” equivalent of the snow day here in Worthing is going on as we speak – the Artists Open Houses.

Suddenly it’s OK to nose around peoples’ homes, eat their cakes, snaffle through the beautiful things they’ve created and chat to total strangers.

I thoroughly recommend it – why not go along this weekend and revel in the friendliness.

Obviously check which houses are actually open otherwise it would be inappropriate – nobody, not even the vicar, wants a weirdo popping in and helping himself to cake without notice.

By Pam Nichols