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May 17, 1996

I just returned from two weeks in Italy (lots of stuff about that coming soon to a web site near you). Italians are wonderful people. But they are also, in some ways, rude by american (or at least my own) standards. They drive for themselves and make no efforts to be polite or understanding on the roads. No problem. I learned to drive in New York City and cut my teeth in Boston. I can handle anything. They walk down the sidewalks and make no efforts to say excuse me, or to make room for you if you are trying to get into a cross-flow.

Fair enough. I can handle all of that. It's a different culture with different values. I am not so ugly an american that I judge and hate what doesn't fit into my amero-centric world-view.

No, what's got me steamed is how rude America has become. I was raised in a country where the bottom-line was the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In other words, treat well and be treated well. In even simpler terms, "Don't be a schmuck."

Something's wrong now. I was cut off twice while driving to work and twice had people open doors in front of me and not even scootch them open a bit wider so I would smack my face into the closing door. They saw me. They knew I was there. Yet they chose to just open the door wide enough for them and let it close behind them. Why? What would make someone so unwilling to reach out even that little tiny bit to the next person?

What's so hard about holding doors? Waiting that one extra car? Using a turn-signal? Saying "Excuse me?" Waiting one's turn? Asking how one is doing? Not making demands? Remembering to be considerate?

Maybe I'm just an idealist.