Traffic - Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
Just now, I was approaching a T intersection from the forced-turn direction, planning to turn left. The intersection had a 3-way stop, and a car coming from my left going straight came to a stop slightly before I did.
I waited for the other car to go, since it had arrived first. The street onto which I was turning is narrow and cars park on the right side of it (relative to the way I was turning), so I wanted the other car to go first, anyway, since otherwise I would have to swoop around it rather than simply turning directly into the space it currently occupied. But the driver of the other car gestured for me to go, and at this point I saw another car approaching behind it as well and knew that I wouldn't be able to avoid swooping, so I just went.
Now, the other driver probably considered his actions to be polite. After all, he let me go when he didn't have to. However, I realized afterwards that I actually considered his behavior to be (very mildly) rude, because: 1) he was legally in the wrong—since he came to a stop at his stop sign first, he should have gone first; 2) everyone was (anticipably) worse off because of his actions—I had to swoop, he had to wait for me to pass, the car behind him had to wait for both of us.
Extremely minor occurrence, but I find it interesting because it shows my focus on results rather than appearances.
I wonder if one reason people do that is so that they can think, "that car went ahead because *I* told them to." The obvious interpretation is that they wanted the other driver to think they're generous, but I think that's probably superficial, and may just serve to mask the underlying motivation, a desire to feel powerful.
|Date:||April 8th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC)|| |
Hmm, I guess a desire to feel powerful could motivate generosity not inspired by cuteness or previous association with oneself. I must not be very power-hungry. :-) (It doesn't really seem like a very effective strategy to me, anyway.)
Now that I think about it, the word "magnanimous" captures pretty well the connection between generosity and power. It's also an Aristotelian virtue, you know :)
Yes! I totally agree!
I hate people that try to be "polite" in cars. It usually does more to make a mess of things than anything else.
I wish people just knew right-of-way, and took it when they had it.
I also wish people didn't stop in the middle of the road.
I also wish I had a million dollars.
|Date:||April 8th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC)|| |
I'm sometimes polite—I'll let people in sometimes, for example. But I try to do it in a way which is not illegal, not surprising to the other cars on the road, and which doesn't turn out to be detrimental to everyone.
Yeah. I mean, if both cars seem to have equal right of way, one waving the other is nice, or at least neutral. It's when it goes against all that makes sense or is actually beneficial that it brushes me the wrong way.
As for letting people in, I have specific rules. They must have their blinker on, and I let one and only one car in with a situation of a lineup at an entrance (so, theoretically, if everyone behaved like me, we'd all merge in a zipper-like fashion). Also, if someone is being a dick, I will go to whatever reasonably safe lengths I can to make sure to not let them in. Sometimes I think this is just silly, it's not like one person doing that is going to make them think to not drive like a dick in the future. I'm not really conditioning them, or anything. But, it makes me feel better anyways.
Several news stories floating around are saying that according to resent psychological research, the desire to punish others for immoral behavior -- even when costly, and when it's a perfect stranger never to be seen again -- is something that appears to be built into our social behavior, possibly genetically. They're conjecturing "social evolution" and stuff.