For years as the traffic intensified during rush hours on Maumelle Boulevard all we heard about and saw was the worst in people evidenced on Maumelle Boulevard.
Folks drove as fast as they could and paid little attention to the so-called rules of the road — especially Rule number one — drive defensively but be nice to your fellow travelers.
Little old ladies having a mechanical breakdown have been cussed at, given the finger and practically ran over simply because their vehicle chose the Boulevard to break down on.
Drivers observing the posted speed limits are also likely to get the treatment — nearly run over, cars on your bumper and often the same one-finger salute.
Everybody was always just in a hurry to get to or from work or wherever they were headed during rush hour.
But during last week’s storm damage and subsequent traffic signal outages on the Boulevard we saw something new.
Lights were out so Maumelle officials placed red stop signs at as many locations as they could.
Maumelle police chief Sam Williams said there were only a few examples of the typical bad Boulevard Behavior. He said they had to remind a few drivers that a the stop sign meant just that and the intersection became a four-way stop rather than a freeway for drivers to breeze on through.
Prepared for the worst — instead we saw just the opposite.
Vehicles were not only stopping at the stop signs, but they were also being courteous — allowing cross traffic to cross in front of them, even if it was their turn.
Speeds were also a little reduced from the frequent stopping but nobody seemed to mind. Maybe it was the realization that Maumelle had once again been spared huge damage from the high winds and once again escaped a tornado that hit just north of town.
Whatever the reason, there’s an important lesson here. Being respectful of others and driving friendly can go a long way toward making the commute an even more enjoyable experience and perhaps putting a smile on someone’s face instead of adding to the frustration.
Since most folks were without power overnight, you’d have expected the worst.
But just as Maumellians put their best foot forward in helping out neighbors who were hit by the strong winds — they did the same on the Boulevard.
Let’s work toward that end with even more possible good news. As the former head of Metroplan, central Arkansas’ joint venture between city and county governments to work for their mutual benefit, Mayor Mike Watson said the group is studying new computer technology that really can make a difference in coordinating traffic signal lights to coincide with the actual flow of traffic.
"We’ve been tweaking and attempting to do so elsewhere which had some positive impact but this software appears to really work," Watson said.
We’ll all hold our breath and pray that it does but first let’s translate some of that new Maumelle pride and being a good neighbor into better Boulevard behavior.
Maumelle is that kind of town. In fact its unique among many for its friendliness and sophistication. So that’s why its such a mystery when the Boulevard brings out the worst in us.
Let’s learn this one lesson from the storm and realize we’re all dependent on each other. Extending a little common courtesy will go a long way.