Confessions of a rule follower

I must confess—I am a rule follower.
I never harboured any notions of being a rebel while I was growing up. I didn’t stay out late to break curfew. I was a relatively well-behaved teenager.
I struggle, as an adult, to enter a building through the exit, like at Home Depot, where the exit is far more convenient to the parking lot than the entrance.
I go in that door, sometimes, but it feels awkward and foreign to me, and I almost want to look around to be sure some type of bylaw officer isn’t running at me with a stun gun.
I’m not sure being a rule follower is an admirable quality. The great explorers from our history lessons didn’t follow the path well-beaten. Dr. Frederick Banting broke a lot of rules in his discovery of insulin, as did Wilbur and Orville Wright in building the first airplane.
Daring to live outside the box is a good undertaking.
I have re-invented myself several times over the years, picking myself up after falling down on rugged terrain and trying a different path. But when it comes to clear-cut rules like red lights and stop signs and speed limits and one-way streets and do not pass “Go,” I prefer to follow the rules.
We have a walking track here at Acadia University, which circles the ice rink. It is a lovely cushioned floor in a bright blue, with a white line down the middle creating two lanes (much like a highway).
The rules are simple and posted on a large board at the entrance to the track. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday motion is meant to move counter-clockwise. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday motion is clockwise.
Walkers on the inside lane. Runners on the outside. Simple enough—one would think.
The first four outings of my 2015 exercise regime have found me on the track. And on all four outings, the patrons of “I Want To Get Fit By Next Thursday” are not following the rules.
There are walkers walking two abreast; not allowed. There are runners on the inside track; not allowed. Two of these runners collided head-on into me on one of the corners and nearly knocked my brains out on the brick wall.
I stopped and talked to said rule breakers on three occasions, and reminded them of the rules posted clearly at the track’s entrance. I used my happy patient voice.
The person in charge even walked over and repositioned the easel, on which the rules board sat, so that those walking/running in the wrong direction would have better visibility of what was expected of them.
Still, everyone kept going in whatever direction they wanted.
In the grand scheme of things, I don’t really care which direction these fellow exercising citizens want to walk. But their responses of annoyance—“I’ll walk whatever way I please” and shrugged shoulders—made me angry.
I was stepping out of the way each time I met someone coming in the opposing direction. I didn’t want to; I wanted to just keep walking and play a little game of “chicken” to see if they would step out of my lane at the last moment.
But I couldn’t bring myself to be so stubborn, even though being stubborn is one of my most prominent qualities my mother told me. That and being very noisy.
As I drove home in a foul mood, I planned to bring a placard of protest on my next walk. Follow the rules! Down with rule-breakers!
Then I realized a sad truth. We can’t achieve peace on the walking track yet we, the human race, are surprised that world peace remains outside our reach.
wendistewart@live.ca

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