Some people tell me that I’m too nice, and that I can be a pushover – and sometimes, I agree. There are days when I want to tear my hair out when I interact with strangers on the road, in the supermarket, running on the promenade, and I wonder whether life would be easier if I was the type of person who only cared about myself.
Case in point: Cape Town is notorious for its bad drivers and makeshift one-way, two-way streets. Basically, because cars are parked along the side, a two-way street gets narrowed down into a one-way, which leads to two cars meeting in the middle and a frustrating game of “Who goes first?” – which I inevitably always lose. Yes, I’m the person who lets the other car pass first, often without so much as an acknowledgment let alone a thank you hand gesture. It’s at times like these that I feel like pulling a Gandalf and standing my ground, yelling “You shall not pass!” out of my car window and laughing maniacally, but I know that after a brief Mexican standoff, I will probably give in and let them through first anyway.
The same goes in the shops: I’m the person who will step to the side to let someone else walk past me; I will move out of someone’s way if my trolley is blocking their path, even if I’m not done in that position; and I will always let elderly people walk through the door first, no matter how grumpy or ungrateful they usually are. And don’t even get me started on dodging children on bicycles on the promenade! Generally, I’m OK with this way of life, as it was how I was brought up, but sometimes I get really frustrated and think, ‘Maybe I’m the idiot here. Maybe, just maybe, I should just be like everyone else.’
But then I stop and remember the importance of manners – and the fact that whenever I do treat others badly, my guilty conscience kicks in and I feel like an awful person afterwards. So yes, I’m nice. I try to be kind and friendly to other people, no matter what sort of issues are brewing inside me, because you never know what turmoil they are going through themselves. Maybe that makes me a pushover, but since when is being nice a bad thing?