For the past three weeks, my neighbors have parked their van in front of my house.

For the past three weeks, my neighbors have parked their van in front of my house.  Despite having an empty driveway and plenty of space in front of their own house, for three weeks they’ve decided to park their blue van squarely on our turf.

The miscreants.

This bothers me. Profoundly. Not exactly because they’ve made our house their personal parking garage, but more to the point that they rudely and presumptuously parked along someone else’s property without even an attempt at getting permission.

Yes, this is me being petty and ranting about something that matters very little. But it is, as they say, the principle of the matter.

I am not so pessimistic as to believe that we live in a world where all people are inherently rude and thoughtless. Nor am I so naïve as to think that there aren’t plenty of ways in which our society exhibits self-serving and discourteous tendencies. But in general, I find that the people I encounter at least attempt to have a care for the welfare of others and try to act in a way that is polite and unoffending.

We have a tendency to characterize the world around us as seething with vagabonds of a careless, loutish nature. People are so rude these days, we might say. You just don’t see common courtesy anymore.

And in a lot of ways, you don’t. Perhaps stemming from our fast-paced, over-stuffed lifestyles, we often fail to take the time to extend the hand of civility towards the people we encounter on a day to day basis.

Which is healthy, I think, to a certain point. A society needs a little contention and asperity. We can’t be polite to each other all the time, else we would never have the debate and conflict that drive progress and change.

We’re all a little rude sometimes. We’re too brusque with the goofy kid behind the register at the coffee shop, we don’t re-fold the clothes on the table at the department store, we leave books sitting out on the shelves at the library. We could all be a tad better about respecting the niceties of common etiquette.

But when we see these behaviors in other people, we’re driven mad by them. Road rage, screaming at store clerks, getting into fist fights at restaurants. We’re flat out crazy sometimes, and it’s just not necessary.

It’s been three weeks, and my neighbor is still parked in front of my house. More likely than not, I’ll just sit and seethe until they finally move it. If I wanted to resolve the problem, I could walk over and kindly ask them to move it.

Or I could push it into a lake or something. That’d take care of the problem for good, that’s for certain.