Monday, June 16, 2008

Let's greet every driver

The oddity struck us as we were introducing Sonny to his first ride on the public bus.

"We say 'Hello' and 'Thank you' to Mr Driver," we were telling him. And then we realised that this wasn't true, generally speaking.

Now, it is the case that, with the minibus that serves our little condominium community - ferrying us to and from the nearby train station - folks tend to be courteous and even chatty to the driver. But when it comes to the regular bus services, the same folks clam up, and never favour the bus captain with so much as a hello. It's a pattern we've seen repeated many times.

"Well, there's more of a sense of community when it's the same driver every day and a small pool of repeat users," suggested Mum, as we mulled over the double standard.

Which might well explain why folks behave the way they do - without justifying it. If our basic sense of courtesy suggests to us that a bus driver deserves some basic acknowledgement of his existence, then it surely shouldn't matter whether the driver was your uncle, the condo regular or the chauffeur for the Martian Express. And the point need not be restricted to drivers either.

But hang on, some might counsel: Ought we to be sufficiently happy that our Singaporean or Malaysian civic consciousness at least extends to 'smaller-pool' inclusivity? Well, in a way, it would actually be less irksome if we were more consistent in roundly ignoring drivers! Every few minutes, it's worth betting, there's still a Malaysian or Singaporean travelling abroad being startled by how bus drivers and passengers in other lands will exchange greetings, pass comments on the weather and otherwise - gasp - interact.

For our part, at least, we'll be teaching Sonny to be consistent in his conduct. To be polite to all. Er... that's just as soon as we can convince him that a furry mouse isn't his best friend.