Rules of the road

5 Apr

“Drive right. It’s not bloody England.”

I mutter this under my breath at least once every time I take Richard for his afternoon walk in the park. Almost everyone walks on the right – but there’s almost always one person who moseys about oblivious to the natural flow of humanity on the park paths. It’s even more irritating when they have an unleashed dog.

Yesterday afternoon, another oft forgotten rule of the road raised it’s head.

It was a blustery and rainy day, but it seemed that the worst had passed. As I pulled off the highway and onto the city streets that lead to my neighborhood, the first traffic light was out. As I turned right towards home I tried to peek in windows to see if homes had businesses had power. It’s surprising how many people keep their curtains open when they aren’t home. I couldn’t tell if the power was out or not – I had to keep my eyes on the road.

At the first intersection, people seemed to remember the rule: If a signal appears dark, such as during a power failure, you should stop as if there are stop signs in all directions. Traffic flowed smoothly and safely, which was especially reassuring because it was a five-way stop with two lanes in all directions.

The next intersection, a mere four-way stop. It should have been straightforward. But, like the oblivious walkers in the park, some people just don’t pay attention. As I awaited my turn, I saw someone just assume they could go right after the car ahead of them. Some mild horn-honking ensued as I pulled up to the intersection. I watched cars cross properly in front of me.

Way back, when he was teaching me to drive, my dad suggested counting to two after a red light changed to green, just in case someone wasn’t paying attention. I don’t follow his advice at every light, but I keep it in my back pocket for days like this. And good thing I do. Before I got to two, someone tried to sneak through. Someone honked. The driver stopped and order was restored. People took their proper turns and I continued home

The last traffic light was also out, but as I pulled onto my street, I saw lights on at the neighbors house. When I opened my door, Richard greeted me with his happy jump, in a room where the lights were on, just as I had left them.

5 Responses to “Rules of the road”

  1. Raivenne April 5, 2022 at 6:37 am #

    Born and bred in the hustle of NYC drivers fend for themselves. In my grandparents part of the South, as a child, there was no traffic. I was in a woman of nearly thirty the first time I came a four point intersection without a light in New England and saw the driving courtesy you speak of. When a car honked at a rude driver, the first thing my cousin said was “they not from ’round here”. I was flabbergasted by something so incredibly simple and so smooth to say the least. Your slice reminded me of that first encounter.

    I’m glad a well lit house, and occupants therein, were there to greet you.

  2. Trish April 5, 2022 at 6:41 am #

    I love the details of this Slice—and you reminded of a rule-of-the-road I had all but forgotten. Good to be reminded. Yesterday we were talking about self-driving cars and how, when they have been completely integrated into the system they are designed for (one I won’t be around to see, no doubt about that!), there won’t be any need for signals at all. GPS will manage everyone’s travels. Yikes! (I wonder of rudeness, and insensitivity, will disappear, too?!)

  3. vivian chen April 5, 2022 at 6:44 am #

    It’s amazing how many people forget these rules. The way you describe this scene put me right there in my own car at the intersections. =) Glad you got home safely!

  4. arjeha April 5, 2022 at 12:44 pm #

    So many people are in a hurry thinking only of themselves that they forget common courtesy. Taking turns in an orderly fashion keeps everyone moving.

  5. Lisa Corbett April 5, 2022 at 6:09 pm #

    Welcome back. I was tense as I read your story. Driving in bad weather without traffic lights and a 5 way intersection! Not a relaxing drive.

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