Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Overhearing People in Traffic

Joan is discussing the merits of convertibles in a post tantalizingly titled "Lessons Learned While Topless". I don't drive a convertible. The parts of Delaware and Maryland I live in are either frigid in the winter, god-awful humid in the summer, or raining in the spring and fall. This means there are approximately three days a year I want one. Frankly on those days I'd rather own a motorcycle anyway.

Anyway now is the part of the post where I reference a story from my storied past of myth and legend. In this case I'd like to point out this particularly salient piece of advice:
Anything you say can be heard by anyone around you! If a cop is directing traffic and you're getting irritated because you've been sitting there a while, calling him names and swearing at him isn't going to get you out of there any quicker.
This true even if you aren't in a convertible and the guy isn't a cop.

One of the most jaw dropping traffic incidents happened to me when I was in college, getting around campus in the summer on my ten-speed bicycle. In this case I was crossing the street in front of the student center to get some tasty Chick-Fil-A nuggets. Mmmm nuggets... *homer drool* Sorry I skipped breakfast.

Anyway I did something I never do. I believed the drivers who said they weren't turning. I was stuck at a corner of a four way intersect. I looked up the one-way street to see which way the oncoming traffic on that street was going. No one was signaling for a right turn, so I decided to cross as quickly as possible.

Well one guy in a big red pickup turned anyway. So he had to slow down and we missed each other. It wasn't a huge deal. He swore at me for not knowing how read a "Don't Walk" sign and I mumbled something under my breath about that being funny coming from a man who didn't know how to work a turn signal.

Now I had underestimated two things. First, he had sharp ears and heard me say something. He didn't know what, but he heard something. Secondly, he was an even bigger idiot than I thought.

He stopped, got out of his car, and screamed at me. He started lecturing me on the finer points of traffic safety. Now that wouldn't itself be funny. In fact given his general level of greasy unkemptness, it would be kind of frightening. But Joe Whitetrash had stopped in the intersection. He had heard me say something, stopped then and there, got out of his truck, and started screaming at me in his shorts and sweaty wifebeater while standing in the intersection. He was lecturing me on traffic safety while blocking a significant portion of traffic in both directions.

I was agape. I shook my head and left him there and made a mental note (1) not to play fast and loose with traffic rules and (2) not to argue with fools or people might not be able to tell us apart.

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