Hump Day: Standing up for driver courtesy on Moncton’s streets

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

(Update: The taxi company in question has since apologized for the driver’s behaviour.)

Sometimes, I think we Canadians are just too darn polite for our own good. Many of us choose to ignore or otherwise tolerate bad behaviour so as not to rock the boat or cause us not to be liked by someone else.

Many of choose to avoid a confrontation or unpleasant conversation.

Many of us avoid calling someone else out on bad behaviour – especially in public – so as to avoid potential embarrassment.

This past week, however, I decided to stand up to someone who did something wrong. It was someone who had decided to blatantly park in front of a popular coffee shop, thus blocking access from the disabled parking spots to the ramp built into the sidewalk for those using wheelchair or walkers. The area was so well marked that you would have had to be visually impaired not to notice. There was no mistaking this, trust me. It was very well marked with yellow stripes painted on the pavement.

The vehicle, a taxi, was left unattended and running. Apparently, the driver chose not to park in one of the many other spaces still available. Instead of opting to walk the extra 15 seconds from a parking spot a few feet away, the choice of blocking access from the disabled parking was made.

Normally, I would just glare at the driver, shake my head, go ‘Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!’ and hope karma would come back and bite them on the patootie at some point. This time, however, I had my father with me. He now uses a walker to get around so isn’t as steady on his feet as he once was.

Unfortunately both disabled parking spots in front of the coffee shop were taken, so we had to park in a space further away than usual from the entrance. The parking lot was mostly clear and so was access to the ramp that my father would have to use. There were still patches of snow and ice, though, despite the no-parking status of the taxi driver’s choice being clearly visible. Unfortunately, that taxi was parked right there, so my father had to go around it through snow in order to get to the ramp.

As I had my cell phone to my ear ready to dial the taxi company to complain, the driver came out with his precious treasure – a coffee, the coffee so urgent that he had to block easy access to a ramp for wheelchairs and walkers.

I was furious by this point. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was blocking access. And no, I did not feel the need to be overly polite or nice à la ‘typical Canadian.’ If my father would have fallen because of the driver’s unfortunate parking choice, there could potentially be long-term consequences for my father’s health – and none of them good.

So, after I pointed out his ‘error,’ he then told me in no uncertain terms to do something anatomically impossible to myself (figure it out, folks) and accused me of just wanting to complain. He and his coffee then hopped in his taxi and drove away.

Quite frankly, I was completely dumfounded. For a second, I regretted confronting him for his inconsiderate behaviour. But then, I gave myself a big ol’ proverbial slap across the face and told myself to get a grip. Publicly confronting someone over bad behaviour would make anyone uncomfortable, I realize that, but sometimes you just have to do it.

Living across from a city park, I’ve had to do it many times. If I see kids trying to deliberately break something in the park, I have no issue with confronting them about it. And you know what? I’ve never experienced an occasion where they did it again. If they know someone is watching and not accepting of their behaviour, they’ll either take their shenanigans elsewhere or decide that perhaps they’d better smarten up.

Sometimes I wonder if I should just mind my own beeswax, but standing by while blatantly bad behaviour is happening won’t help anyone. Was I supposed to just let that taxi driver think it was OK to block access to a ramp? His taxi company’s name was prominent on the vehicle. His taxi number was also prominent. Why in the world would someone think they can get away with it? Maybe it’s because we let them.

My father can get into enough trouble on his own with his walker. He doesn’t need to be put at risk by being forced to go through slush and snow because someone’s coffee urge was so strong it caused them to park where they’re not supposed to. The driver could have opted to walk 15 seconds to the front door by parking elsewhere.

And no, not every taxi driver would do that. I know that. And perhaps, just perhaps, it was a one-time thing. I hope it was, as opposed to an ongoing nasty habit. And God knows, I certainly have my days.

Everyone screws up sometimes. But when you’re being called out on your own bad behaviour, I think it’s a sign of good character to just apologize. Grow a pair, realize that you made the mistake and just apologize. The courts wouldn’t be so full if grown adults would just learn to admit a mistake and take responsibility. Stubborn pride and egos keep lawyers and judges in business.

Should I have been told by that driver to do something anatomically impossible to myself ? Admittedly, I wasn’t terribly nice about it when I pointed out to him that he was parked where he shouldn’t be, potentially putting someone else’s safety at risk. But when that someone else is my father – this usually polite Canadian isn’t going to back down. Sometimes, you just have to stand up for what’s right and call a spade a spade.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.