Four-way stops have this wonderful knack of giving insight into people’s character. Watching drivers’ behaviour as they approach a four-way stop sign reveals much, especially in South Africa with its proverbial tendency towards lawlessness.
You have those who, arriving, hardly stop, and without the slightest care as to who got there first, force their way across, and then have the audacity to look at you with disdain because you dare stare at them in disbelief. Full of ego, overbearing, and with an assertiveness that puts bulldozers to shame, they shove themselves across the intersection and continue to smash their way through life.
Then there are those who arrive with what can only be described as timid apology. With them courtesy is taken to the point of Disneyland. They are so busy being nice and waving everybody else across, they become oblivious to the string of insult and rage behind them and their exploitation by those to the front and side of them. Then, eventually limping across the intersection, they shuffle on apologetically into the distance.
Finally, there are the self-assured. They arrive with confidence claiming their ground. They stop, give a courteous look, and assess who got there first and who therefore has right of way. Expecting the same civility, they take their turn, and with sober caution, drive across with a smile and a nod.
Three groups of people. Three very different ways of approaching life.