Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If You Knew You Were Being Watched...

...how much would you censor yourself, or how would you find it influencing what you do or don't do? Would your behaviour change?

I started thinking about this a few days ago while walking home from work. I arrived at a very well marked crosswalk in my very residential neighbourhood. A black pickup truck was approaching (and going obviously faster than the speed limit, I might add!). The driver slowed to turn left, but didn't stop for me to cross. And it seemed to me that the driver 'pretended' not to notice me. Do you know that look that I mean? It's that look that people get when they are passing you in a crowded mall or grocery store and aren't going to yield any of 'their' space, or when you are both approaching a checkout and perhaps they don't want to have to go through the polite dance of 'who got here first - oh, you go ahead, no you...', or a store clerk or receptionist who is so absorbed in their business that they don't notice you standing right in front of them and don't look up to greet you or inquire as to whether or not you could use any help...Come on, you know the look...it's not just me being paranoid or delusional...is it?! ;) No, I trust you know what I mean. Anyway, I'm wandering off a bit here...

The point I'm driving at (no pun intended!) is that if that guy driving the truck knew that, say, his wife was watching, or his boss...would he then have been inclined to stop to let me cross? I mean, the man did not commit a mortal sin by not stopping, though my understanding of the law here in BC is that a pedestrian at a crosswalk (and certainly IN a crosswalk!) has the right of way. I personally view it as basic consideration, a courtesy, a good gesture.

What if the man driving the truck saw his wife or child waiting at a crosswalk while a driver blew by...what would his perspective be then?

I'll confess to 'getting caught' doing something that I felt embarrassed by...

Typical afternoon of driving home from work, always in a rush, always thinking ahead to the next thing that needs to be done...and I'm tailgating. I'm behind a driver who is dawdling along like a DOPE for gosh sakes, and it is so frickin' frustrating!! What is wrong with them?! I'm trying to get somewhere!! So I'm tailgating, and I'm really pushing it. I'm not pushing this person at all, they're not budging. FINALLY, I get to my turnoff, so glad to see that the slowpoke idiot is carrying on straight. A couple of days later, my neighbour, my friend, the woman whose son I was looking after two days a week, is walking by my house while I'm out on the balcony and so she stops to chat. "You were really in a hurry the other day" she says. "What? What do you mean?" I answer, a goofy, 'I-don't-get-it' look on my face. "You were tailgating me" she replied. Oh. My. God. I felt like SUCH an ass! I was embarrassed, ashamed, mortified!

So - how about those people who pick their noses while sitting in their car at the red light. WE CAN SEE YOU! You did not enter Invisible Land when you shut your car door and snapped on your seatbelt!

What about men who leer at or stare after girls, young girls, who walk by them at the mall or on the street? (YUCK!) Do you not realize that you are out in public and visible to all others out in public? We can see you!

And to the people who roll their eyes and shift impatiently from foot to foot and sigh loudly in exasperation when they are walking behind an elderly person moving along slowly with their walker, or in line behind a person who doesn't speak English who is trying to figure out how much change to count out to pay for their purchase, or at the coffee shop where a mom is trying to buy herself a coffee with a struggling and screaming toddler along in the stroller - what if you knew that somebody was observing you, your behaviour, your responses and attitude. Would you still be acting that way? Would it make a difference whether the person who was watching you was a stranger, or someone you knew - like your wife, your boss, your mom, your neighbour, your children?

I have my less-than-stellar moments. And thinking about getting 'caught' by somebody I know is one thing that crosses my mind but it's really not my main moral compass. I do like to think that I can recognize the good in me from the bad in me (or at least the lame/dumb/sloppy in me!) and police myself accordingly, the desire to be a decent person being my biggest motivation. So where am I going with all of this? I don't even know. It's one of those 'random' thought processes I've mentioned in previous posts. Just one of those things I think about when my mind gets to wandering a bit. And I've been trying to come up with a tidy little sentence or two to wrap this story up and bring it full circle...but I can't. That's all I got! So that's all from me for now - Jillian...OUT!

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