I've been giving thought to rudeness lately, and here's what I've come up with. (The reason I've been contemplating it is probably obvious—rudeness is rampant in our dear city. Perhaps everywhere, but certainly on the streets of Toronto.)
First of all, I want to point out that I see rudeness as the absence of courtesy (or civility, to set the bar even lower).
Courtesy—oh, where is the OED when you need it?—I would define as acting with respect and consideration toward those around you. I propose that it is acting with respect for yourself and recognizing your role in the workings of civil society.
I think many people might define rudeness as specific acts, such as giving the finger to a fellow motorist, or cursing anyone who gets in your way. Such things certainly are rude. But rudeness is much more than just active aggression. Rudeness is the absence of courteous behaviour. And I'm fed up to the teeth with our lack of courtesy.
1. It is rude to hog the sidewalk. If you are walking with friends and someone is approaching from the other direction, courtesy requires that one or two of your group move aside, step back—whatever it takes to allow a fellow pedestrian to pass. You do not own the sidewalk. Now, I will take into consideration your defense ("I didn't see her!") and after careful thought will throw it out of court. It is your responsibility to SEE the people who share the public spaces with you, even if such people are old (oh, shame!), female, homeless, or otherwise undeserving of your attention. This principle holds throughout the year but is particularly important when ice and snow narrow the pathway.
2. It is rude to stash your used chewing gum anyplace except (wrapped, please) in a garbage container. This means: do NOT throw it on the sidewalk, which has two disgusting results. First, someone will inevitably step in it and have to spend too much yucky time scraping it off. And second, even if your gum does not get stepped on, it leaves a black spot on the pavement. Have you not noticed the grubby, dirty-looking black circles all over our city? Don't contribute to that, please.
However, under no circumstances should you park your gum on the railing of a public stairwell. By all means do that at your own house, if that's what you are called to do. But do not contaminate the handrail of the subway steps so that my fingers encounter your germ-laden deposit as I innocently go up or down the steps. Thank you.
3. Do not horse around with your friends near the entrance to a public building, making it difficult—or even dangerous—for others to enter the building.
4. Do not play your music so loudly that it disturbs others. Ditto talking. Ditto talking on your various mobile instruments. Not everyone wants to hear the details of your intimate relationships.
5. Do not cut in front of other people, whether you are walking or driving. This makes them angry, and they will either retaliate against you (for example, with the rudeness of the extended middle finger) or, throughout the day, against others—the domino effect of rudeness. Don't be the lead domino.
6. And while you're not cutting people off, consider your escalator behaviour: do NOT, even if you are a tourist and don't know where you are going, stop at the very top or bottom of an escalator to regroup and figure out your next step. Move along, honey, move along. Remember that the escalator is conveying dozens of people right behind you, and they can't walk through you.
7. Do not block the doors on the subway car. If you are standing near a door and that door opens at a station, move out of the way so people can exit and others can enter. Don't take up the space of the opening by just standing there. If the car is jammed with people and near the door is the only place to stand, the courteous move is to STEP OUT OF THE CAR so people can exit, then step back in.
I had wanted to make an amusing list of everyday rudeness, something that would be pointed but entertaining. I feel that I have instead written a rant. How rude!