Saturday, May 7, 2016

Stop being nice!

Is this my week to complain about First World problems? Yeah, but the week's almost over.

Today my kvetch concerns this strong suggestion: Stop Being Nice on the Roads!

You gasp (thanks for playing along at home) and say, "But Fred! Everyone, especially in New York, where your hovel is, is too mean on the roads! Who are these nice people of whom you speak?"

Well, we do have some, and when it comes to intersections, they have to knock off all that niceness.

I'm thinking of this common situation:

You're at the front of the line at the red light, planning to make a left turn. That's you below in the blue car. (Slick wheels, BTW.) The woman (it's often a woman) in the yellow car wants to go straight, and you know that by the rules of the road, she has the right of way. There are cars lined up behind you; they'll have to wait. There are cars lined up behind her; they're happy because they'll be on their way soon.


You're resigned, and so is the guy behind you; the guy behind him, not knowing you were turning left (couldn't see your directional) is peeved, mainly because he is afraid he'll miss the light. But scoring the emotis as Happy = 1, Meh = 2, and Mad = 3, this scenario is a 10, which for a traffic situation with 6 drivers is not too bad.

Now let the nice person in the yellow car start waving at you to let you go first, and what happens?


First off,  no one's moving. Why? You in the blue car were not expecting this stupid act of niceness, so you were prepared to wait. Maybe the sun is facing you, and you can't see the ding-dong waving at you very well. (It's always hard to estimate visibility for a driver in a car facing another direction.) The two cars behind her are pissed, because they expected to be off with the green. The two behind you are furious because you're supposed to turn and no one is moving. And you are at least Meh, because you don't know why the yellow car is sitting there when it should be going straight. By confounding your expectations, the yellow car has automatically added several seconds to this process. Only the driver of the yellow car is happy, because she thinks she's doing a good deed. Give her a moment and she'll be mad that you're not doing what she wants. And if you're me, you'll get mad because she's not doing what the law says she should.

Score: 15 and rising quickly. That's bad for a 6-driver scenario.

So, friends, stop being nice out there on the roads. Just know the rules and follow them, especially at intersections, where so many deadly accidents happen.

When we all know what we're supposed to do and do it -- which we all agree to when we apply for a driver's license -- we prevent a lot of problems. Fulfilling expectations IS nice.
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