When the going gets tough, let's not get rude

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2011, 12:00am


Travelling from one place to another can sometimes be a breeze. Often, however, it is anything but.

Buses can be late, taxis unavailable, trains packed, flights may get cancelled.

We may easily become stressed and lose our temper. That's a mistake. We should always keep our cool and remain well-mannered, even during gruelling commutes.

Politeness on the go

You are travelling around town. Here are six snatches of polite dialogue you might use. Practise them, and then look at the 'Now Use' list and decide which piece of dialogue you need in each situation.

1 Excuse me. The number 73 bus should have been here five minutes ago. It isn't usually late. Have you got any idea why it's delayed?

2 May I help you cross the road? The light is green. It's safe to go now.

3 Please take my seat. No, it's fine, I'm getting off at the next station.

4 Excuse me. I think this is yours. You've dropped your train ticket.

5 I think it will be better to take a taxi. All the buses seem packed. What do you think?

6 Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't realise you were waiting for a taxi, too. I know you were here before me.

Now Use

a. An old lady with a lot of bags is hesitating at a pedestrian crossing. She is nervous about getting to the other side of the busy road.

b. You have been waiting in the bus queue longer than expected. You speak to the person next to you.

c. A taxi arrives, and you move forward to get in. But someone stops you.

d. You have been shopping with a friend. Now it is time to go home.

e. You are walking behind someone, and you see something fall from his pocket to the ground.

f. A lady holding a baby gets into your train carriage. There are no seats available.

Politeness costs nothing

Pete North is a London taxi driver. He is always polite to his passengers even when they do not speak politely to him.

How do you think he responds to the following four passengers?

Remember: Pete never loses his temper - not even when passengers complain to him unfairly.

1 Can you get a move on? I'm going to be late for my meeting.

a. Well, get out of the taxi and walk!

b. I'm afraid there is nothing I can do about the amount of traffic.

2 Do you always drive as slowly as this? A snail could move faster.

a. I am driving as fast as the speed limit allows, sir.

b. Do you want to drive instead of me? You can if you want!

3 This is the most uncomfortable taxi seat I've ever sat on.

a. What do you expect? A comfortable sofa?

b. I'm sorry about that, madam. I've not had any complaints before.

4 This is not the way to the airport. Are you taking me on a long route so you can get more money?

a. We are making a short detour, sir. There are roadworks on the motorway, and I don't want to be delayed in a traffic jam.

b. Will you please be quiet? I am doing the driving, not you!


Now use: a. 2, b. 1, c. 6, d. 5, e. 4, f. 3

Politeness costs nothing: 1. b, 2. a, 3. b, 4. a




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