Irrespective of the anomaly of heavy traffic on Friday after noon, the best part of traveling through the Cajon Pass is driving the north-bound lane that brings us back home.


It feels good to leave the crowded, hostile drivers with the traffic congestion down below. Those drivers cruise the freeway weaving in and out of traffic as if they learned to drive from a video game and they are determined not to allow other drivers to enter the traffic stream. The necessity to rush to the next bottleneck isn't as prevalent on our Mojave Freeway except by those motorists hurrying past us to gamble in Nevada. And bullying by motor vehicle is more likely, on the desert, to be limited to those folks who resist all regulations even when the rules are needed for public safety.


Are manners better on the High Desert? I've observed men, women, and children open doors for people entering buildings after them. And the beneficiaries of this courtesy have not forgotten to acknowledge the polite act. Unfamiliar people strike up a conversation just to be friendly. Salespeople tell stories about their families without interrupting the progress of their work. In short, people in our hometown seem to notice each other, are welcoming, and look for opportunities to be helpful. These commitments to niceness happen when people take ownership of their communities and expect that others too are here to stay.


I've never observed anyone up here push a shopping cart into another shopper unless it was an accident followed by a profuse apology. I've never seen an argument develop in our parking lots because more than one driver wanted the same parking space. I've not seen a motorist indifferently waiting at the wheel of their parked car to watch another driver assiduously squeeze into a tight parking place in front of them; and then smugly drive away thus opening an adequately large parking place after the driver has successfully parallel parked. And I've never been forced to walk in the gutter because a group of business men persuaded me to believe that they owned the sidewalk.


I hope Desert acts of kindnesses don't disappear as more people arrive and we become more crowded. That doesn't have to happen. Crowding is only one element for the loss of polite behavior. Good manners are social norms that develop from the observation of the behavior of others. As long as we continue to show consideration for each other and remember to behave respectfully, I believe we can keep our present standards for politeness.


Another element for good manners is to behave in a way that is appropriate to the situation. I'm not accustomed to have service personnel and government employees pull into my driveway to come to my door. It's not done down-below. It would be considered trespassing to park a car on the property of another person without first getting permission to do so. But I understand how this encroachment develops. Many of our streets are unpaved, there are no curbs and sometimes it isn't apparent where the city property ends and the homeowners' private property begins. As we become more citified, I'm sure drivers here will be more cognizant of the distinction between what is privately owned and what is owned in community.


People here appear to be kinder to each other. I find it remarkable that since moving to Hesperia, I've had packages carried to my car by strangers; that fellow shoppers offered to check the price of an item I wanted to purchase, and I've had groceries packaged up for me by another customer when a box-boy disappeared. Neighbors have set out my trash can when I was late and offered assistance with small repairs just because the task needed to be done and they were capable of helping.


When I have been out-of-town, something special happens as I drive up the Pass to home. It's a feeling of peacefulness. My worries melt away with each mile that brings me to the place where the air is clear, the vastness of desert matches the expanse of sky and my new friends, neighbors and acquaintances are really nice people whom I am grateful to know.