Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sidewalk Classroom

The Fall semester has begun. I haven't heard the exact count but there are over 4000 new freshmen. NAU has a total enrollment of about 20,000. My sidewalk classroom is open. I don't teach academic classes. I teach common courtesy.

Julie works on south campus about a mile from my office. We park south of her office and walk to my office. She then walks back to her office and, at the end of the day, I walk south and we meet. This gives both of us about two and a half miles of exercise each day.

I was raised to respect elders, give up my seat to a woman, say "Yes, Ma'am" and "No, Sir" and to know my place in a community. It wasn't oppressive. It made things work smoothly and I knew that one day I'd be an elder and younger people would give way to me. It was a belief and expectation that will never be realized. But, that's OK. The world isn't static. Young people should not treat me with respect because I'm older. They should treat me with respect because we live in community. They should learn to respect all people and learn courtesy that benefits everyone.

As I walk across campus I often encounter two, three or four students walking abreast coming toward me. Courtesy dictates we share the sidewalk. Neither I nor they should have to step into the street or on to the grass. However, many and perhaps most will take the entire sidewalk and expect me to walk around them. I refuse!

I enjoyed -- and contine enjoy -- being a father. I know young people need an example and enouragement. We're always examples so let me clarify: young people need a good example. When I encounter students taking the entire sidewalk I dont' give way. I move to the right half of the walk, smile at them and continue at my current gate.

Do you know how difficult it is to hold shoulders steady when about to collide with an petite young lady who refuses to move to her half of the walk? I don't enjoy it but I feel it's my responsibility to teach them to share!

Community. I think more and more about that concept. In a global economy we need to maintain a sense of local and global community. We need to learn -- or relearn -- empathy, courtesy and respect.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I have encountered this. With most, it is more a matter of being oblivious rather than rude although the effect is the same.

9/12/2007 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


I remember walking away from the Capital Building in D.C. a number of years ago.

Beatiful day. Wide pathways. I'm in the middle of the pathway going one way. I see a group of suitors, shoulder to shoulder and all in their power suits and outfits coming in the opposite direction.

They were focused and all their energy was moving ahead of them as if to sweep away any opposition.

It just pissed me off. So I did the passive aggressive thing, and turned my back on them, knelt down and tied my shoelace.

Their waters parted. Their energy scattered.

Sweet pettiness.


9/12/2007 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Whitesnake said...

When I open the door for a woman and she says thank you I say "There are still a few of us left!"

9/12/2007 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

My current peeve is the elevators at the hospital. Time after time the door opens and these idiots are standing right there in the door as though there couldn't POSSIBLY be someone already on the elevator who would.....get this....PERHAPS WANT TO GET OFF! What's even worse is many times it's an employee with a stretcher blocking the door and I stare them down with my "Why in the hell are you blocking the door to the elevator?" look so that they sheepishly or peevishly back away and let us off. I would give each and every damn one of them a common sense and common courtesy lecture if I had the time and wouldn't get written up for causing a disturbance, because it really ticks me off, especially when the same people keep doing it over and over again.

9/13/2007 04:09:00 AM  
Blogger Mysti said...

I have always taught my children the same thing. My son opens the door for ladies and men alike. He tells people to have a nice day, and says excuse me when necessary. The funny thing is, when people find out they are homeschooled.. they tend to comment that it's probably the reason why they are such well adjusted and respecting kids. {shrugs}

9/13/2007 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

In order to be mannerly one must be taught. Few bother to teach that lesson to their children.

9/13/2007 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger jules said...

I agree with you. Question: Do you then say 'Excuse me" to the one you bump? Even if it is they who don't give way?
I encounter the elevator thing at the Courthouse also. Crowded around the door waiting to get in, giving no room for folks to get out, then having the nerve to glare at us for wanting to get out.
I think we all could use some refresher courses. Good post!

9/13/2007 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for that post. You gotta have some basic rules, and the young'uns think those rules should be Darwinian and for their benefit.

9/13/2007 05:50:00 PM  
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8/03/2009 12:24:00 AM  

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