By Joe Rector

Yes, I know that the world is filled with rules. We have plenty of guidelines that tell us what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Many folks rebel when demands become too much or too harsh. I get that, but what I don’t understand is why so many people ignore the simplest rules of getting along in this world.

All of us enjoy a leisurely stroll, especially with someone whom we love. Amy and I recently traveled to Biltmore to see the gardens. We arrived at the azalea trail, a mile-long walk filled with beautiful shrubs and flowers. We walked and stopped every so often to take a picture. Some folks wanted to walk three or four abreast on the trail, thereby causing others to step to the side to let them pass. I don’t do that. Instead, I stood in the middle of the path and forced them to divide. There’s an unwritten rule that says people may take only half of the sidewalk or path.

Drivers would do well to follow some simple rules. One is to move to the right if they aren’t passing. Being oblivious to everyone else on the road causes traffic back-ups and raging drivers. At the same time, drivers should never place their vehicles in no-parking zones. Traffic snarls when inconsiderate motorists pull into fire lanes at the grocery store or department store. The common excuse is, “I was just stopped while my wife ran in for a minute.”

Nothing raises blood pressure as quickly as drivers who cut line. The recent traffic delays because of bridge work in Kingston is a prime example. Most drivers obey the signs and merge into one lane. A minority are jerks who zip past the line and then cut in. If you’re one of those who does so, realize that you are no more special than anyone else. Get in the line and wait your turn. It’s only fair.

The most important rule these days is on texting while driving. Unfortunately, too many drivers refuse to obey the rule. Cars zip by, and operators shift their eyes from the road to the phone screens. All of us know the dangers, but some just must believe that they’re invincible. Perhaps they are, but my family and I aren’t, and I don’t want to be a casualty as the result of some nit-wit’s need to text.

While we’re on the subject, how about turning cell phones off before entering a concert or church gathering or business meeting. Parents shouldn’t text while their children are performing in school programs or recitals. In other words, put the phone in a purse or pocket, or better yet, leave the thing in the car. You can live without it for a couple of hours, and it won’t ring and irritate others attending the event.

Hey, parents, here’s another rule. You’re supposed to control your children when they are in public. No one wants to sit in a restaurant and listen to unruly children as they scream and cry and fuss. Nor do folks enjoy shopping in stores where little ones are running through the aisles or having meltdowns in the checkout line. Maybe the better plan is to leave children at home when it’s time to shop or wait until another adult can stay with them in the car.

Covering mouths when yawning or coughing should be no-brainers. Too, keeping a finger out of the nose in public is another personal rule. The biggest of these deals with the restroom. Men, unless you suffer from some disability, it is incumbent that you raise the toilet seat before taking care of business. Men and women, common decency demands that you push the magic handle and flush the toilet. Failing to do so proves that you are a depraved human who has never been taught basic manners.

I’m sure that many other simple rules can be listed, and I’m sure I’ve left out some important ones. However, these are a few that quickly came to mind. Maybe the best guideline is one that says if something feels wrong, it probably is. Let’s all be a bit more considerate of those who are around us.