Single File, Please


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Dear Reader,

It’s a very simple request. You are an adult, now, albeit a college student and/or jogger. When, upon walking or running two or more abreast on the sidewalk, and being approached by a fellow pedestrian, please fall into single file to pass one another.

And a friendly nod and murmur of “Good Morning. Excuse me. Thank you,” wouldn’t be remiss, either.

How have we come to this? We’ve begun to forget the most basic things taught to us in grammar school. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Good morning. How do you do?

I believe it is because we are no longer looked upon with approbation when we remember our manners. There is no smile of thanks. In fact, the recipient of the kind gesture is more often than not (at least in my experience) a little shocked.

Try it. Say “good morning” while passing someone on the sidewalk. Or hold open a door to let the woman in back of you enter into the coffee shop before you. Hats are back in fashion. Do you know when to tip or even doff yours? You may be surprised at the reaction you receive in response.

If we have no positive reinforcement for good behaviour, neither are we subject to scorn or ridicule for forgetting the same. We’re all too busy to care. And frankly, how can we engage the person in front of us when we are in deep conversation on our cell phones? We are collectively retreating into the self-absorbed anonymity of the electronic and motorized world.

Please reengage with society.

Elegance begins with small gestures, performed automatically with no thought of material gain. Elegance begins with making a conscious choice. It can begin with a smile and a “good morning.” It certainly begins when you allow others to pass by on the sidewalk without forcing them to step into a tree well since you won’t step aside.

Thus endeth the screed.

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6 Responses to Single File, Please

  1. LucyinStLou says:

    What good advice. In our neighborhood, it seems the older residents are the only ones to practice the lovely practice of greeting fellow walkers. It’s such a shame.

  2. CashmereLibrarian says:

    It’s also nice if, while walking your dog and passing by another on the sidewalk, you pull your pet onto the grass instead of making the passer-by step off the sidewalk!
    My “pet” peeve.

  3. DCLawyer says:

    E&E,

    Good post. I was listening to a speaker today reminding us that the previous generation (those in their 60s+) needed a phone booth because one didn’t converse on the phone in public. Now we’re all walking down the street on our cell phones (or worse, blathering into a headset), oblivious to those physically present.

  4. Robin says:

    May I add that one should follow the traffic rules of their country? It would greatly simplify things if, whilst living in the USA for instance, one walked on the right side of the sidewalk, path, aisle, etc. I must also confess that I frequently make it my personal challenge to get someone to say “Hello” in return. I usually win!

  5. LINDA BRAZILL says:

    How did I miss this!! Wonderful, wonderful post.

    Foolish as it may seem when confronted with the enormity of our nation’s problems, courtesy and patience are the virtues I concentrate on these days.

    I let other drivers cut in ahead of me; I let pedestrians cross; I’m polite to salesclerks and telemarketers. They may be small gestures that others don’t even notice but I see them as stitches necessary to mend the social fabric.

  6. “… stitches necessary to mend the social fabric.” Wish I’d written that! That’s what we’re aiming for here at EE&L. And by all of your comments, I see that the idea has more than a few adherents. Keep fighting the good fight, dear readers!

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