Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If I swear at fellow drivers..................

............and they can't hear me, have I really committed an offense? I've come a long way, actually. I no longer use hand gestures to accompany my vitriol. I no longer plead with the universe to have them drive as though their IQ was normal. Well, that's not completely true........but I do chastise myself for doing it. Of course, my fellow drivers can't hear that either.

I'm sure they are all wonderful people with wonderful qualities. In fact, I can honestly say that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to find more open, friendly, generous people than the ones in my area. A smile at every business, compassion at the doctor’s office, ready to help if you’re stuck on the street, a pleasure to encounter almost everywhere you go. Probably the only place where they are not at their best is in their cars.

Having spent time in LA where eye contact is one of the warning signs of mental derangement, I am used to people wanting their privacy. Here, it seems to extend beyond the usual desire to protect personal information to the use of the turn signal when driving. It has become a typical experience to be waiting to turn left into traffic only to have the approaching vehicle turn to the right in front of me, that little maneuver being a complete secret up until the moment of its execution. Of course, the only reason this is any kind of issue is that turning left into traffic is nearly a blood sport, with two or three cars frequently jockeying for the same position at certain intersections. So when that window comes for me to make my move, having someone who uses their turn indicator is a tremendous tactical advantage as well as a safer way to proceed. I can certainly see why the police think so highly of it.

I understand that it is essentially none of my business where a person is going. Trust me, I really won’t be looking behind me to see the next leg of your journey. I just want to turn left at the first available opportunity. That is not just to accommodate some kind of hurry I might be in, some appointment I am trying to keep. I don’t know about you, but I am painfully aware of the growing number of cars behind me, waiting for me to go. I have visions of angry villagers carrying torches, chasing my car, hurling rocks and epithets. Similar things happen on the straightaway and the freeway – no turn signals, just a gentle lane change by someone who, when I look in their direction, seems blissfully unaware of my presence. I can’t decide whether that is an attitude or a vision problem. Either way, it has kept my powers of observation and personal response time in tip top form.

Maybe it would help if I tell all you readers that I drive a small pickup truck, so when you see me, feel free to signal. It will only indicate your immediate course, not your final destination. Even if I see where you’re going, I promise I won’t tell.

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