Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Decent society and the turn signal, a love story

Note: This column appears in the 4/7 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/8 issue of the Peoria Times

I’m a patient man, I think. It takes a lot for something to really get to me. I don’t have many pet peeves. Even those things that I list as being “pet peeves” don’t really bother me all that much. Sometimes I have to manufacture indignation so as to feel like a normal, frustrated, angry human being. I am, after all, from the east coast. There are expectations.

But there is one thing that honestly and legitimately makes my skin crawl with the type of loathing normally reserved for unrepentant and violent criminals. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, those who neglect or straight refuse to use their turn signal are murderers. Of the decent driver’s soul.

Now, I do not prefer to write about bad driving. For one thing, I’ve done it before, many times. It’s also hacky and stale and predictable. Any person can make an argument that the driving where they live is the worst. And it’s been well documented on this page that the driving in Arizona is the worst.

For the most part, I’ve adjusted. I expect to be rerouted through a construction zone at all times, and I’ve come to grips with the fact that none of these projects will ever finish. I don’t mind being sandwiched in between two pick-up trucks sitting thirty feet off the ground with engines that sound like helicopters. Waiting behind someone trying to make a left turn in a situation where making a left turn is virtually impossible and therefore obnoxious and utterly arrogant? Love it.

What I cannot and will not compromise however, is the turn signal. For me, use of the turn signal is the most common form of human decency, mostly because it requires the absolute minimum amount of human effort. You literally have to lift a finger. And while I would love to lift mine at every driver who refuses to use a blinker, I drive under the assumption that everyone in this state besides me has a gun underneath the driver’s seat. Or, in their non-driving hand.

Refusing to use your turn signal is like saying, “I am either too lazy or too indifferent to care about anyone except myself. This is my road. Want to know what I’m gonna do with my vehicle? You’ll know when I do it. Check out the sticker on my back window of Calvin peeing on my turn signal. It’s awesome.”

The other day I was completely cut off by somebody who was brazenly weaving in and out of traffic. But they used their turn signal, so I didn’t mind that much. That person was a jerk, no doubt. But a redeemable jerk.

I have no solution to this problem. I’m just venting. I’m allowed one of these a year. But if by any chance a person is reading this who contains that rare combination of literacy and the inability to use a turn signal, I say to you, sir or ma’am: You are a human being. There are expectations.


Not exactly what Bill Watterson had in mind

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about this problem. When visiting Arizona i am terrified of driving for the reason you stated. They say that if you can drive in New York you will be able to drive anywhere. Not so for me. I will just leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Well, Arizona drivers do need one driving hand to talk on their cell phones and the other to polish their guns (for which they now no longer need a background check to get or a permit!!)