I know it’s easy to complain about the various things that make big city living a challenge, but lately these things have been annoying me more than usual.
Thinking about it, the various annoyances have one thing in common: incivility.
What do I mean?
The seeming inability of many Londoners to think of those around them and moderate their own behaviour accordingly. This was thrown into sharp contrast by my latest visit to Tokyo, where it seems that consideration for those around you is a cornerstone of public behaviour.
I’ve found myself getting very wound up about Londoners’ behaviour lately, which I know isn’t good for me. So, in my own mind, I try to reappraise the situation and come up with a helpful explanation for others’ behaviour – to try to defuse the stress and anger in my head.
Some recent examples that have set my teeth grinding:
Fellow commuters pushing past me on public transport to get a seat, as if their lives depended on it. No “please”, no “excuse me”, just an elbow in the ribs. In my mind: perhaps they have a disability I can’t see and they really need that seat. Maybe they’re in pain.
Commuters holding loud phone conversations using speakerphone – as if they’re on a reality TV show. In my mind: maybe the stress they’re under at work means they have to share their hassles with a friend and they don’t realise how loud they’re being.
Cyclists flying along on the pavement, refusing to slow down when approaching pedestrians. Or cycling behind me, leaving mere inches between my heel and their front wheel. This is particularly annoying when there’s a dedicated cycle path right there. In my mind: maybe the cyclists are concerned about their own safety on the road and think it’s the lesser of two evils to keep on the pavement.
Motorists driving through red lights, turning pedestrian crossings into a form of street-side Russian roulette. Many of whom are on their mobile phones at the time. I’ve almost been mown down three times in the last month by chumps like this, all of whom have sped off without an apology. In my mind: maybe they’re dealing with a personal emergency and racing to something important.
Vapers blowing their disgusting output into my face as I walk past. Closely followed by smokers congregating by the very large ‘No Smoking’ signs that litter Canary Wharf. This turns my walk to and from the DLR into a foul-smelling slalom of smoke and spitting. In my mind: maybe a quick vape or cigarette is the only ray of sunshine they experience in their working day.
If this sounds like I want the world to change around my preferences, then I apologise. I’m quite sure I do things in public that might annoy others. I’m just asking for people to give a little thought to those around them as they go about their day. meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for more positive explanations for others’ behaviour.
And hopefully reduce my blood pressure in the process.