Bad habits behind the wheel drive me to the edgeLately I’ve been contemplating the correlation of the increasing numbers in one’s age to the escalation of irritation by the simplest, everyday occurrences.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
Lately I’ve been contemplating the correlation of the increasing numbers in one’s age to the escalation of irritation by the simplest, everyday occurrences. I personally think it’s directly related to the aches and pains that plague us as we get older. It’s hard to be chipper and bright when the various parts of your body are griping at you all day long.
My back is always reminding me that it hurts every time I sit, stand, lie down, or bend over to pick something up. My hip and knee have recently joined in the chorus of complaints. The elbows and shoulders pipe up now and again, and my feet are constantly singing the blues for me to lose weight.
With all this whining going on in my head, it’s little wonder I’m so short fused. Still, I’m concerned about becoming a Crabby Appleton — if you don’t remember who that is, you aren’t old enough to understand any of this.
The interesting consideration is that I’m most often contemplating this age to irritation ratio when I’m driving. I’m starting to think it has less to do with my age-related, hair-trigger exasperation than the escalating number of incompetent drivers out there. And here’s a news flash; it’s not the elderly.
Let’s begin with inattentive driving. Can all of you teen girls, soccer moms, lunching, shopping and working ladies who multi-task in your car please put your cell phones down? I don’t want to be gender biased here, but I have to be honest. I see far more women with their phone fastened to their ear than I do men. Hang up and drive or pull over to talk and text.
Cars are amazing in their technological advances, but they haven’t yet made one that will read your mind — or a plausible possibility, pre-track your course and automatically signal your turns. Until such a feature is available, can everybody please remember to use your signals? Maybe you think I have nothing better to do than sit and wait to pull into cross traffic while you are approaching, only to have you turn, signal-less, just as you reach me. I do.
If you need a refresher course on how to proceed at a four-way stop, here it is. As you pull up to the stop sign, quickly scan the other three approaches to see who is already at a complete stop. They all get to go before you.
Apparently, that gets a little tricky for some people when they are the second or third car back. These individuals seem to think they simply follow the car in front of them. They either pull into the intersection out of turn, nearly causing a collision, or they make rude gestures and ugly faces as you take your entitled pass in front of them.
So in case you don’t remember from Drivers Ed-101, you must first come to a complete stop just behind the crosswalk (marked or unmarked) before you are in the cue to proceed into the intersection.
While we’re on the subject of intersections and four way stops, the county road approaches to a highway thoroughfare are not four-way stops. Cars in the median have the right of way over cars at the approaches. Come on people, I learned this in driver’s ed. Were you absent that day?
At least once a week, when I am in such a median, having waited for the traffic to clear before I turn onto the highway lane, somebody sitting at the stop sign on the opposite county road access pulls in front of me because they were there before I was.
Then there is just plain common sense — or lack of it. With the Blatnick Bridge closed, traffic has increased seemingly ten-fold on Belknap Street, with cars back up for blocks at red lights along the way. Blocks is the key word here — with blocks of cars blocking the intersections so cross traffic can’t get through.
For those who don’t know it’s illegal to block an intersection, try some common sense and courtesy. If you see that your line of traffic is going to come to another red light and you have the choice to hang back or block an intersection — it doesn’t occur to you to stay back? Are you in that much of a hurry to get nowhere fast?
I am a courteous driver. When I’m in those long lanes of traffic, I always have an eye out for the poor soul waiting to cross or turn into the busy lane. I’ll change lanes whenever possible to clear the way for traffic merging onto a highway. I always use my signals and I turn my headlights on in rainy or foggy weather so that cars behind can see me — if you didn’t know it, when a car’s automatic day-running lights are on, its taillights are not.
My road-ire is rearing its ugly head, though. If you are one of those drivers who ignore the “lane closed ahead” signs until the last minute, don’t think that I’m going to let you in.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to email@example.com.