Friday, December 18, 2009

Civility and Walking

Journal Entry: 12/17 Weight = 175.6; Curb coinage = $1.08, Canister coinage = $2.23; Glass bottles = 2; Ground Scores = 2. Note: a lined man’s extra large jacket was found on a recent walk, washed, smoothed, and placed on the garment pole. It lasted less than 30 minutes.

Journal Entry 12/18: Weight = 175.2, $1.31, all curb coins; Ground score = 1; Glass bottles = 4; Best coinage find = a quarter from one newspaper stand and a nickel from another by its side.

Feature Entry: Civility and Walking

Encounters with others while walking is a given when the walks are in busy urban confines. Things can go wrong so I try to walk with civility. I have had an unread copy of Stephen L. Carter’s book, Civility, Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy in my library for many years, but an episode from this morning’s walk motivated the MoneyWalker to actually read a few pages. Among the gems was this comment: “Civility has two parts: generosity, even when it is costly, and trust, even when there is risk.”

The episode involved a cigarette lighter and what was to be my first ground score of the day. I was zooming through the parking lot of a Starbucks parking lot checking for change. At the same time of the lighter sighting, I spotted a stranger walking along the sidewalk just below. With civility I said “Good morning!” as I reached for the lighter. He announced with a non-hostile also civil voice, “I was just about to pick that up.” He was not of my race, but my response was an easy one, “Please, you take it!” I gave it a high toss for an easy catch and we both went on our way. Then he yelled back, “And it works too.” That is connecting, that is civility.

There are threats to civility; Dogs that bite—Territory infringement— Indifference to others-- The turning automobile-- An attitude of preferring isolation--Racial profiling. I remember when one snarly beast charged and I yelled at her apparent owner, “Keep your dog on a leash!” She yelled back, “It’s not my dog mister!” Another time at 6 a.m. I was cutting through a huge restaurant parking lot and the owner ordered me to stay off of his property.

It is not always easy being civil, but it is the right thing to do. What? Yes dear, I can be better at remembering to pickup my clothes.


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