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10/19/05

Copyright 2005 David C. Loebig

Random Digressions

Lesson at a Four-Way Stop

  OR

On the Road of Life, Don’t Forget to Stop at Stop Signs

I should confess. I’m not the most patient driver. At the risk of dealing in hyperbole, I want to say that neither is anybody else. I realize that statement is inherently false. There must be somebody who is the most patient driver when compared to everybody else; it’s just not me. By the way, it’s not you, either.

Driving has the power to annoy even the most saintly among us. It provokes the calmest dispositions to agitation at the minimum and to outright rage at the worst. The person known as a polite, cool personality anywhere else utters the most profane things under his breath when driving...or under her breath. Women are prone to such foibles, too.

Frustration seems inherent in the act of driving. You have a very specific purpose, a goal, a clear destination. Moving serves your purpose. Everything else thwarts it. Traffic signals, other cars, speed limits. Who needs them, anyway?

We all do, of course, and at a four-way stop sign I was given a polite yet firm lesson in waiting your turn.

I had just left my house with the day’s grind intruding on my temperament. I was on time, so I had no need to hurry, but I was preoccupied. My destination was stuck in my mind’s eye, and I just wanted to be there.

I came to a busy four-way stop. The car across from me was to turn in front of me, but we arrived about the same time and had one of those I’ll-go-oops-you-go moments. He went first.

Coming from my right, a young blond girl of roughly 18 years edged into the intersection. She stared directly at me with a noticeably stout judgment.

I drifted forward to go next, but she too edged her way out, all the time watching me to make sure I wouldn’t cut her off. And she waved her finger at me...the index finger, not the finger usually displayed in salute. While stern, she still kept a moderation in her expression as if to soften the glare.

It was obvious that she was saying, “Look, I was here first, and you shouldn’t be edging your way out, and you’re being impatient, and it’s a little rude of you to go when it’s not your turn. I’m next, so I’m going, okay?”

She slowly made the turn and passed next to me all the while gently waving her finger in silent reprimand. As I realized what had happened, I had to laugh. She was right.

I had been thinking of my destination. I wasn’t paying attention. I was out of place.

At that moment I needed a second horn. In addition to the standard get-outta-my-way horn, I needed one that says, “Oops, you’re right, I was a bonehead. Sorry.” It would sound like wah-wah-waaaaaah—you know that cartoon-like wah-wah sound. I can’t imitate it in print, so you’ll have to imagine it. I think the notes are E, B and E.

So to the young lass who politely pointed out my negligence, I say thank you for being so gentle in your righteous critique. Consider the lesson learned, and please accept my apologies. I promise I won’t do it again.

Yeah, right.

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Dave Loebig writes and banters out of the Tampa, Fla. area. You can banter with him and get his podcast at RandomDigressions.com.

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