I Went Out Walking…

Brodie on the proch

Today’s morning dog walk brought to mind another small incivility that has become the norm around this little town. I wonder why?

Along our beautiful Monument Avenue the sidewalks are just wide enough to walk two abreast.

I spend a lot of time stepping out-of-the-way of people walking towards me. I can’t remember a time when someone stepped aside or into single file to allow me to pass. I guess that went out with tipping your hat to a woman you know when encountering her in public.

Perhaps it’s because I am often walking alone or with the dog and I am expected to stand aside? I do so in the case of joggers as I hate to have them break stride or leap into the street to avoid me. Or it might be that we spend so much time in our cars that we’ve forgotten the social contract by which we should abide when in public.

At least those who made eye contact with me will smile and nod if I say “Good morning.” It’s a start.

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12 Responses to I Went Out Walking…

  1. Its generous of you to wonder if it’s because you are walking your dog, or we are in our cars so much. We don’t “step aside” with our vehicles! The simple fact is that politeness and proper manners are sadly lacking in our society. I miss them.

  2. WSL — even if we just bring back a bit of politeness… a concern for those who inhabit our little world along with us. I seem to be encountering a lot of people who feel that most of the rest of us are beneath them in some way. A real epidemic of narcissism? Egocentricisim? “Looking out for number one” is, I suppose, what makes us a nation of entrepreneurs and global competitors.

  3. Douglas says:

    NO!! You are destroying my memories of a civil and friendly town. I had the joy of living briefly in Richmond’s Fan neighborhood in the 1990’s. My lunch hour Monument Avenue walks and after work journeys around Maymont were always a chance to encounter cordial and well mannered folks.

  4. Doug Herrick says:

    Please forgive me, but I am having trouble understanding the issue here. Do we feel that should two persons walking abreast approach us in the opposite direction as we walk our dog, one of the two should step aside to make way for us? Really? Which one and to which side?

    I may not always act like a gentleman, but I certainly do try. I also try not to pass judgement upon others’ lack of manners unless they are outright rude. Of course, I live in a very ethnically diverse area, where the general populace may be better off financially and better educated than many in other communities across this nation, but definitely much different culturally than most of this nation as well. One never does know if what might be considered rude in one culture may not be so in another.

    I take it upon myself not to be rude. I also understand that there are people who do not like or are extremely fearful of dogs. I walk 2 1/2 miles immediately after work every day with my Border Collie-Australian Shepherd mix. She’s a wonderful, sweet dog, who gets compliments regularly, and gushingly so from most, but not all young girls–“Oh, she’s so cute!” Notice that I said “not all.” Two weeks ago during a lunchtime walk in the park with her, a young girl (perhaps 10 years of age) fled in tears at our approach, and I had to comfort her and apologize to the girl’s family for frightening her (they were very understanding, thankfully).

    Which brings us back to walking the sidewalks of my neighborhood for 2 1/2 miles. I frequently have people approach in the opposite direction during these walks. As a matter of courtesy on my part, not knowing how the approaching person or persons may feel about dogs, I step into the street to allow them to pass. Sometimes, the approaching person actually steps into the street before I have the opportunity to do so. I certainly do not expect it. What I do expect as that I personally act like a responsible and polite dog owner.

  5. Dear Chris,
    You are so right about this as one of many little courtesies that slowly become extinct. Societal pollution and most are not even aware of it as they never were taught what ought to be correct. If the sidewalks are just enough to walk two abreast it is only natural that one of the two would step in front of the other, or behind, thus letting someone pass! We did this all the time when walking to school, using narrow sidewalks. You ought to write a little book, listing these little lost courtesies… Sad but so true!

  6. penelopebianchi says:

    Oh dear! I do so miss manners……..and civility! We need to teach our grandchildren! YIKES!!

    What a horrible world we will live in! Everyone dressed as in “Inner” or “Outer” “Slobbovia” !!

    (does anyone remember that? Al Capp???)

    I think it is the reason we get old! and then die. We are put out of our misery! Good God…..what I see men (and women) going out to dinner dressed,. (or not) Completely sickening. Gross. Disgraceful.

    I could go on.

  7. mary says:

    New reader here. Since learning about sidewalk dominance behavior in a human geography class, I’ve sometimes amused myself by trying different tactics to get different responses. One favorite scenario on my park trail: three abreast approaching a lone walker (me). Rather than leap into the side bushes, I stay fully in my lane and by seeming not to be alert to the impending collision, cause one to drop back in annoyance. I, of course, always have an oblivious cheery greeting for all.

  8. Penelope, I do sound like an old grouch sometimes. But that’s the beauty of having a blog.

  9. Hi Doug, I find it natural to drop back a pace to let the person opposite pass. I typically keep Brodie on a short leash and at the kerb side when walking him. That way passersby may be spared being licked to death.

    Mariette, I wonder if this practice was instilled in my when I lived overseas and everyone walked somewhere at least once a day… hmmm.

    Douglas, we still have a friendly and, for the most part, civil town. I enjoy the Fan very much. The Redskins arrive today for training camp, not 1/2 mile from where I sit; we’ll see how things go with the sports tourists. Ought to be interesting;

  10. This new trend could reflect the increase in bullying, which of course has always happened but is recently more apparent. Or, perhaps the product of the ‘sucess’ mentality when aggressive behavior is said to achieve goals. But, some others simply don’t like dogs, and for some it may be the only time in the day they have small ‘power’.
    It does seem that as fewer children are raised by parents, and rather in centers/schools etc many have no manners as these are seldom part of the cirriculum. And, having said that I paraphrase the Dalai Lama’s now familar quote: ‘change is, embrace it”.
    Mrs. Snell

  11. Taylor says:

    As stated by Mary, it is common for me to encounter three abreast on a sidewalk and none of them ever allow me any room at all. Respect is simply not a part of common the culture anymore.

    And this change is not for the better. If you care about your way of life, sometimes a struggle is necessary to maintain it. A change for the detriment of society should never be embraced.

    Mr. Elegantologist, I was a regular reader of yours several years ago while in college, as living elegantly had and still does hold a strong appeal for me. Now of course you post less frequently, and in your posts I feel a sense of resignation that the culture you love is disappearing. It is, and these blog posts can only do so much to change the tide. I believe the problem to be an excessive amount of tolerance; it will take the courage to speak out outside of the internet in order for their to be any hope that the culture you love will survive.

  12. George says:

    Buy a pit bull and walk him while smoking a cigar, then watch the seas part.

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