Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No More Right For Me

I am referring not to a political position nor to a moral position even though those two positions seem often to be on collision courses each with the other. I am referring to making right turns while driving.
Woody Allen in one of his wonderful seventies films remarked that California's only cultural accomplishment was our ability to make right turns on red lights. That was then. This is now.
First of all, making a right turn on a red light is not mandatory. Second of all, the decision of whether or not to make the right turn on the red light should be based upon the judgment of the driver in the car positioned to actually make the turn and not on the impatience or compromised impulse control of the driver in the car five or six cars behind the lead vehicle. Unfortunately, there seems to be a misunderstanding on this matter. Either that or commuters are so fed up with traffic that just about anything is not only permission but a mandate to honk, scream, and ultimately flip off other drivers.
For example. Yesterday I happened to be that lead car at the red light. I was in a lane which allowed me to turn right and, in fact, I hoped to turn right. However, since the other light directing other traffic and equally impatient drivers was green, those drivers had the audacity to actually go through the intersection. I wasn't driving the old red Jeep but, instead, the old grey Saturn. What little height advantage the Jeep might have provided was unavailable. The vehicle to my left was either a portable three story office building or a really big all terrain truck of some sort. My bet is on the portable three story office building because I'm sure I saw one passenger undergoing dental surgery while the driver waited for our light to turn green. Each time I inched forward to see if there might be a break in traffic sufficient to allow me to make my cultured California turn on the red light, the office building also inched forward always completely blocking my view. The vehicles in back of me ranged in size from tour buses to small universities. Each driver had a far better view of the traffic than did I and each driver felt no need to even hesitate in communicating to me the all clear get your ass into the intersection before I crawl up it horn blowing and screaming messages with which those of us who do not drive buildings to and from work are all too familiar.
Here was my problem. Because I couldn't see past the dental tools, I refused to make my turn. Besides, I never noticed a break in the traffic until their light turned red and mine turned green. At that very moment, I made my right turn. And just seconds later the driver who had crawled up my ass extricated himself, whipped around me with skidding tires, shouted some obscenity with which I was not familiar, and stuck his entire arm out of his window to either flip me off or hit me. So absorbed was he in this teach me a lesson lunatic behavior that he lost control of his car, spun in three complete circles, ultimately regained control and sped through a red light failing to notice the only motorcycle police officer employed by the La Verne Police Department. When you're the only such officer on the force, you've got to prove yourself constantly, I suppose, because within seconds the red lights were flashing and the behemoth so recently up my ass was pulled over to receive a ticket. As I drove by I did not honk my horn or yell obscenities. I did, however, have a really good laugh.
Many years ago my Aunt Thelma decided after some vehicular stress or other, to never again make a left turn. She spent the rest of her driving life always getting to her destinations making only right turns. I think the mere act of plotting out her daily courses probably gave her enough brain exercise to stave off dementia. Who knows what would have happened to her had she lived in California. I'm thinking where she lived there was probably a law prohibiting right turns on red lights.
Those were the days when life was simple.


Tom Walker said...

The same thing happens to those of us who don't drive rolling buildings, when we need to make a left turn and don't possess Aunt Thelma's ability to think several right turns ahead. I would love to see horns outlawed on cars. Either that, or a sign that would light up on the back of my car saying "STUFF IT, STUPID."

Anonymous said...

This is the most awesome thing I have ever read. EVER!

MaryWalkerBaron said...

Thanks. Reading this stuff is one thing. Living it is riding a horse of a different color. Tell your friends about us. Or tell your enemies depending on how you feel about awesome.
Seriously, thanks.