Rights and Wrongs

November 1, 2010

Oh, man. It’s been one of those days. Most of the stress has come in the form of my undead computer, which is now back and seems to work, but was completely overhauled. I’ve been going through files and everything seems to be there, but I’m holding my breath waiting to see if it’ll crash on me again.

There’s that. Add some pressing deadlines and other such “fun” things, and you have the makings of a good ol’ Stew o’ Stress.

But wait! There’s more!

I was hurrying to the library after dinner. Now, between the library and the building next to it is a wide, flat stretch of concrete, bounded by a railing on the left (if you’re facing the library). No cars here, only people. I rounded a corner onto the concrete pretty quickly (I was in a rush) which put me just left of centre. A guy was walking towards me across the concrete; there was a sizeable gap between him and the rail, so I just darted further left.

Right when I was about to nip past, he stepped into my path, cutting me off. I nearly ran into him, but halted just in time. The railing blocked me on my left, so I had to walk around him on the right.

Apparently, that was his point. He smirked. “We pass on the right in Canada.”

That brought me up short. I just gaped at him, the words not coming.

They’re here now.

  1. We are not cars. This is not a road.
  2. We are the only two people in an otherwise wide and empty space.
  3. I was closer to the left than you anyway; in this one, particular case, passing on the right would have been (and indeed was) more difficult.
  4. I was born in Canada. I have lived here my entire life. I really don’t appreciate the patronizing, condescending tone.

And perhaps it’s partly that Canadian upbringing that influences my dislike of conflict. Seriously, I just stared at the guy open-mouthed before scurrying off. (In hindsight, I probably should have apologized, but I was too stunned to speak). On top of everything else I’ve dealt with over the past few days, this made me want to cry.

But I didn’t. See, I figure the world is full of people like him. Want to remind someone to pass on the right? Okay, fine. I freely admit that in most circumstances, it’s the proper thing to do. But to be so inflexible in such an informal situation, when a simple step to his left would’ve made things so much easier? I don’t know…

Yet for all that, it was the comment that bothered me most. I may be a young ‘un, but even young ‘uns deserve respect. Most people I know would never load so much disdain into a comment… much less one directed at a stranger. And the “in Canada” bit really bothered me. During the winter months, I’m indistinguishable from the snow, but what if I was obviously from somewhere else? How would I have felt then? Ashamed of my passing-on-the-left heritage? Frightened by this imposing country and sneering Canadian?

Furthermore, what was his motivation? Why would you purposefully embarrass someone out in public?

If you want to look at this in terms of the rule book, I was in the wrong. Had he not cut me off, or had he said something like, “It’s usually easier to pass on the right,” I would have been embarrassed, but I would not have gone on this rant.

You see, two wrongs don’t make a “right.”




  1. I wonder whether your stressed out mood contributed to how you chose to read his comment?

    “On top of everything else I’ve dealt with over the past few days, this made me want to cry.”

    On another day, maybe you would have viewed him as merely trying to “connect” with a “passing ship,” rather than as someone out to capsize the ship??

    In any event, this is a well written rant. Hope you have smoother sailing on the morrow. 🙂

    • Hmm, interesting. Now that it’s been several hours, and I’ve calmed down, that’s a possibility. Of course, text on a screen can’t communicate tone of voice, but that too is subjective- interpretation is so dependent on history, context, presentation… and mood. Just goes to show why two people can react to the same thing in very different ways.
      Oddly enough, now I’m kind of glad he came along. I got a good rant (and rants can be very fun) and now as a result, you’ve given me some stuff to ponder. Thanks!

    • Think about this . . .

      What if he went home, slapping himself on the forehead saying, “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Why did I say something so damn STUPID???” 😉

  2. Sounds like he was just a jerk to me. Forget about him.

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