Hitting a Nerve

Preserving civility in trying times


Recently I was in a minor car accident. No injuries, just some bent metal and scratched paint from a low-speed parking lot mishap.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

The other driver and I got out of our cars, made sure we were both okay, and then I said “Let’s exchange insurance information.” We got our insurance cards out; I took a picture of her card, and she wrote down my info. Then we drove off and went on with our days. The whole thing took a few minutes.

Why am I writing about this?

Because it was all handled very politely. There were no angry words, name calling, or heated exchanges. We checked the damage, made sure the other was okay, and exchanged insurance cards ... without a single impolite phrase or gesture.

To me this is a good thing. In a world in which people yell (and sometimes brandish weapons) over imagined and minor offenses, in which political candidates exchange crude insults rather then debate policy, and in which an opposing viewpoint is treated as blasphemy rather than an honest difference of opinion, it was nice to have a polite, adult, exchange under unpleasant circumstances.

Perhaps it’s sad to find relief in such a minor event, but it’s also reassuring. In medicine (especially hospital work) we often see people at their very worst, and dealing with them can be a challenge. We live in a world of at-times seemingly endless rudeness, one-upping, and “problem-solving” with yelling, threats, and intimidation.

So I was glad the minor incident resulted in nothing more serious at the time than a brief, polite, conversation. It’s nice to know many people out there still subscribe to civil ideas and polite behavior, even when the circumstances are difficult.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has nothing to disclose.

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