A few weeks ago, I was stopped by one of our local policemen for going 47 miles an hour in a 25 mph zone. I seriously want to believe that he meant 37, because I drive on this street regularly and although I do sometimes see the needle hanging around the 35 point, I don’t ever recall seeing it cross the line into the 40’s. Still 37 is a problem since the street divides two very active parks. The officer gave me a warning, which I appreciated. About 15 years ago, I received two tickets in two days on an intersecting street for “failing to come to a complete stop” at a stop sign. Today, on my way home, I observed two of the most flagrant bits of driving I’ve seen lately. One was a man in a truck who blew through a red light without slowing down more than was necessary to make the turn, even though the intersection was marked with a “No Turn on Red” sign. Later, a second driver continued through a stop sign on the same street where I received my warning, without so much as tapping his brakes. Adding insult to ignorance, he tossed a cigarette out the window at about the same time.
I’m not quite sure why I am outraged by some offenses more than others. I drive at around 70 mph on the highway to work. I’m not really bothered by the folks who are probably going over 80, unless they are screaming behind me, as I approach one of CT’s notorious left-hand exits. The people who, like I twice did, roll through a stop sign without having the car settle backwards, but clearly after making sure the intersection was empty, don’t bother me. The guy who cruises through without a thought seems like an idiot. The people who turn right on red without stopping first don’t bother me, unless I have to slow down to avoid hitting them, or when they are behind me and apparently expect me not to stop.
I don’t like people who think “yield” is French for “speed up now” and I don’t like people who refuse to move over to let someone enter the highway, when doing so would cause no problems. I don’t like people who block intersections so that they can turn left after the light has turned red, and I really don’t like people who encourage me to move up into that position. I think it comes down to the fact that I don’t like people who act like they are special, and I really don’t like people who want to make me complicit in obtaining their special treatment. I also don’t like rude people – anywhere.
When our daughter was learning to drive, I had her take me to the local hardware store. The route includes an intersection with a busy 4 lane road where the cross street enters at an obtuse angle. While you are allowed to turn right on red at this light, it is very hard to see if it is safe to do so without twisting your neck around. Faith was uncomfortable gauging the traffic, so I pointed out that:
“You’re allowed to turn right on red, but you don’t have to.”
Clearly the man behind us felt otherwise. When it turned out that he was going to the same store that we were, I took the opportunity to approach him and explain just what a jerk he had been. That probably wasn’t a wise move, but he felt bad when he realized that his actions might have intimidated a young driver into making a potentially fatal mistake. He didn’t apologize to my daughter, probably because of the gesture she had made.
If you find yourself behind me, you should know that I’m the guy who:
- Almost always stops at stop signs
- Understands the meaning of “yield”
- Lets UPS, FedEx, US Mail and other delivery drivers go ahead of me at 4-way stop signs
- Will not honk at the person in front of me unless they are clearly asleep at the switch
- Stops at the light before turning right on red and waits for the light to turn green if I can’t see the traffic coming from the left. And no, I’m not going to accept your honk as a signal that it’s safe to turn
- Stops for pedestrians
- Will not pass a person on a bicycle unless I can give them a lot of room (I also ride my bicycle on the road, and I very much appreciate your giving me enough room to avoid being hit by your mirror).
Yeah, I’m that guy. If you are frustrated because I am making you late, get up earlier tomorrow and think about switching to decaf.