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Friday, 13 April 2012

Left vs Right

No, No, vs the Other Right...

My first encounter with this phenomenon occurred during my very first trip to Australia.  I was wandering around downtown Melbourne, but every time I go to cross the street, I'd always look the wrong way first.  Funny, there were never any cars coming.  Looking back, It's amazing I survived it.

When the wife was visiting Canada, I used to tell her that we were right.  Left hand drive was right- because after all, we were on the right side of the road.

The transition from right side of the road to left behind- er side of the road hasn't actually been always easy.  Just follow traffic I was told.  And that's all well and good, but what if there isn't any traffic?

I have caught myself driving in the wrong lane more than once.  When I returned to Canada for Christmas a few years ago- known as the trip where I tried to kill The Wife- I left my brother's house one day to go to mall.  Sure enough, there wasn't traffic on the road and so I didn't even think I was in the wrong lane until a car appeared.  Headed right for me.  Well, I corrected in short order.  The driver going the other way didn't seem terribly amused.

But, even being in Australia 8 years has yet to completely eradicate this way of thinking.  Not so very long ago- read last week- I found myself driving on the right side of the road.  The Wife corrected me before I noticed.

But it occurs to me that traffic on the road is how we deal with other in passing on foot.  Much has been made of the little dance people do when they meet when their paths collide.

The keep right culture is instinctual in me, a product of my first thirty years.  The keep left culture is as ingrained in the population here as my inability to pick up the Australian accent.  So the dance steps tend to be prolonged and confusing, and to a beat that is best kept silent.  But it is true that this particular dance happens more often than I care to admit.

And so, the next time you find yourself doing the sidewalk hokeypokey with a complete stranger, instead of getting embarrassed, just smile and think that person may not actually from around these here parts.  And remember, just because you go one way, doesn't mean the guy facing the other way is going to go the other.

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