Sunday, June 06, 2010

People: They're called Rules of the Road not Vague Suggestions of the Road, So, Like, Maybe Follow Them, OK, Unless It'll Harsh Your Mellow

I went to the DMV to get my license on my 16th birthday.

Through the magic of birthday cut-offs and school calendars and all that educational hoo-ha, I started school when I was 4.

For the purposes of getting my license, though, the calendrical weirdness meant that while all of my friends turned 16 during their sophomore years or the summer before we became juniors, I was a few months into my junior year before I was able to get my license, so I didn't wait a day longer than I had to wait.

So, I've been driving now for nearly 25 years. I have a pretty good grasp on it. The pedal on the right makes the car go. The pedal on the left makes the car stop.

But for the life of me, I don't understand why people can't manage the non-complexity of an all-way stop.

People: If you stop first, you go first.

That's it. That's the whole rule. It doesn't matter if you're turning left. It doesn't matter if it's Tuesday. It doesn't matter if the sum of the numbers representing the month, day, and year on the Gregorian calendar add up to 3. It doesn't matter if your car is blue.

If you stop first, you go first.

In my world, this qualifies as "simple."

Why then, do people sit at stop signs looking at each other, blankly?

I'm forever waving people on, directing traffic from my driver's seat, as it were.

And directionals. How about using them? And using them the way they're intended to be used?

How about not just slowing down for no apparent reason and then turning, with no use of your directional?

Or how about not turning your directional on – this is a personal favorite – while you're in the process of turning?

You know what? I'm pretty smart. I can surmise that you're turning by watching your car change directions. At that point, I really don't need a flashing light to clue me in.

And speed limits. Now, I'll admit that I'm not always the strictest of observers. And some speed limits might seem unnecessarily slow, but who are these people who decide residential streets are de facto drag strips? And why is there never a cop nearby? Yet I once got pulled over for following too closely at a stoplight.


Yep, a cop pulled me over and swaggered up to my car in that coppy-swaggery way (Is there a class in swaggering at the academy?), asked to see my license and registration, and asked, in that superior tone of theirs, "Do you know why I pulled you over?"

"No, officer, I don't, actually."

"At that stoplight, you were following me too closely. You're supposed to stay two car lengths behind another vehicle."

At which point, I was thinking, "On the road, sure. But at a freakin' stoplight? Do you know how backed up traffic would be all over the planet if we all stayed two car lengths behind each other at stoplights?"

He stared at my license and registration for a long time – there are no secret codes embedded in them, Dr. Nash – and thrust them back at me in that coppy-thrusty way (another class as the academy, no doubt) and let me go.

Gee, thanks.

(I really appreciate cops, for the most part. They put their lives on the line every day and we don't pay them enough, I'm sure, but some cops in squad cars seem to be on real power trips. Surely, somewhere at 1 a.m., there's someone in a car, oh, driving drunk who they can be pulling over, and not bugging me for "following too closely" at a stoplight.)

Anyway, my point is that rules apply to everyone. Yes, you do have to stop for a stop sign even if there's no one else around. You know why? Because it says "Stop." And because there might be a person or a car that you're not seeing who's expecting you to stop. Because you have a stop sign.

And speaking of stopping, a flashing yellow light does not mean "Stop." That's a flashing red light.

To that person I once nearly rear-ended because they thought they were supposed to stop at a flashing yellow light, you might want to brush up on a few things before you get behind the wheel again.


Anonymous Alison said...

Hey...another thing we have in common! I started school right after I turned five, and I turned sixteen right before my senior year of high school. I got my license ASAP after my birthday.

And I am so with you on this. My main beef with people is the not-using-of-turn-signals (what we call "directionals"; I have never heard that term!) and the freakin'-running-of-red-lights. People in this town are notorious for that. And I hate it, because nobody ever gets busted for it. EVER. Gahhhh.

Ooh, you made me feel all ranty! Time for more coffee.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I drive a big truck so I always go first at stop signs, it says it under the visor, "Go first they will get the hell out of the way" or it says something about seatbelts oh well. Cuz, Dan

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

"Go first they will get the hell out of the way"

Sadly too many Americans live by that mantra. It's why we got into Iraq.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I just read a blog you made a couple years back about your basement water issues and it sounded SO familiar. I am amazed at how similar your thought patterns are to mine. Would like to email some time and chat. My email is

Take care...

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a joke Dave, relax Cuz Dan

3:32 PM  

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