Those of you who know me well, know that I am an avid jogger. When arriving in a new place, some may look for places to shop or eat, but one of the first thing I do is check out where can I go jogging. Consequently, moving to a new place for six months meant that I would need to discover the jogging areas.
I started my jogging routine soon after we arrived and quickly discovered something rather interesting. In my experience, where I live in the United States – Nampa, Idaho – drivers are very courteous to joggers. For example, when I approach an intersection, although vehicles generally have the right of way, they almost always stop and let me either make the turn or cross the intersection ahead of them.
When I started jogging here New Zealand, I quickly noticed that when I approached an intersection, the drivers would not stop to let me either turn or cross the street in front of them. I was soon becoming a bit annoyed with the drivers for their lack of courtesy to someone jogging, as I was used to this courtesy back in the U.S. I often thought to myself, “How rude these drivers are!”
One day I was halfway across the street when a car came up and did not stop for me to finish crossing. The driver just looked at me and kept on going. I thought, “How rude!”
Another day, to my surprise, a driver actually stopped and waved me on to cross the intersection before she crossed. I was so amazed at her kindness that I almost turned around and went to thank her. Then I thought that might not be such a bright idea since I am a stranger who has been in this town for only a few days. I thought, “Finally – one courteous person!”
As time passed and I became more familiar with this little town, I began to notice something when it came to traffic and pedestrians. If someone is crossing the street at a designated pedestrian crossing (most of the places I jog do not have pedestrian crossings), the pedistrian has the right of way. They don’t even look for oncoming vehicles because they know all vehicles will stop for them to cross.
On the other hand, when you are attempting to cross the street where there is no pedestrian crossing, vehicles have the absolute right of way. You don’t attempt to cross with the hope of vehicles stopping. That’s just the way it is here, and everybody knows that except me.
Now that I know this, my jogging is safe and pleasant, AND I no longer look at people in their cars and think they are rude! Instead, I realized that I was the one who was being rude for thinking poorly about the drivers for something that is normal and accepted in this town.
It took me a while, but I learned once again (sometimes we need to learn lessons more than once!) that just because something is done differently than I’m used to, does not make it wrong or discourteous. How rude of me to think the drivers were rude. Now as I am out jogging, I find myself waving at the drivers and giving a pleasant smile as I wait for them to go by. And they often return the wave and smile. How courteous!
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