I have become increasingly confused over the last few years about what exactly the word “share” means. For many years I thought the word “share” meant to partition something, to divide it up, or to take turns in using something. If I were to share a car, for instance, it would mean that sometimes I would get to use the car and sometimes the person I was sharing with would get to use the car. That kind of sharing would require us to work out some deals and rules, but the idea is we would both get the car some of the time. If I were to share my cupcake with someone (not something I really like to do) it would mean that I would have a part of the cupcake and the other person would have a part, neither of us would have the whole cupcake. At any rate that’s what I thought sharing meant. Of late I have become confused.
I live in an area with a lot of people who like to ride bicycles al’a tour de france. There is a lot of spandex and bodies bent over handlebars and furious peddling on narrow streets with blind corners and steep cliffs. Also there are a lot of cars. And signs that say, “share the road.” I suppose that sharing the road could mean that for a certain period of time it is yours and for a certain period of time it is mine, but that seems impractical for something that was designed as a means of travel to and from destinations. I try to share the road by being cautious and careful to not crowd the cyclists or drive too close to them, but that can be very difficult when they are in the middle of the lane giving me the finger as they coast at 10 miles per hour or chat with the friends who have helped them form a line across both lanes. That doesn’t feel like sharing to me, though maybe I don’t really understand the concept.
Sharing the road is hard because we all have different things we want to do with the road, I understand that. I typically want to drive on the road, though I also walk and that means I have to notice the other things that people are using the road for that might not be the same as what I am doing. We are sharing a space and trying to do so in a compatible way. That at least is my hope. The reality feels more like everyone wanting to use the space for what they want it for, when they want it and you should basically go to hell if your use is not compatible with their’s. The world feels selfish and uncivil.
Yesterday I was attempting to exit a parking lot in my car but could not get a clear line of sight to the road traffic because someone else had parked in a no-parking zone thereby blocking the view. They wanted to use that space for parking, even though the space really need to be used for nothing so that people could safely see the road and not cause an accident. I was rather busy yesterday and happened to also be walking on a sidewalk that a cyclist wanted to use for cycling, apparently the road was not available for sharing at that moment. It caused a fair amount of consternation and stress for myself and the other side-walkers, we really didn’t have anywhere else to go so we hopped into doorways and in between parked cars. The cyclist cheerily shouted, “thanks for sharing,” though I am not sure it was willing.
This in’t really about cyclists, it just happens that where I live they make it rather easy to complain about. This is much more about a lack of social awareness and responsibility. We are all here together, we have to share because there is no other planet, this is it and we are stuck with each other. That means we have to remember that we can’t always have it all our way, or the way that would be the easiest or the most convenient for us at this exact second. We have to think about the other people, at least we should think about the other people, we need to remember that sharing means we get some, not all. Some is good, I don’t really need the whole cupcake.