I come before you today to plead my case for outlawing all four-way stop intersections in America.
I can’t speak for the rest of Mother Earth but having driven over a good part of the U.S. I feel we can agree on the fact our citizens are completely unable to process the requirements of successfully navigating the Mother of all driving dilemmas, four-way stop intersections.
All my wife and I were trying to do yesterday was get home with our beloved Chinese food. We were not in a particular rush as our local establishment manages to pack out our order at a temperature equivalent to the surface of the sun…which is fine because we do like the food hot…and it does re-enter the atmosphere of safe eating by the time we get it home.
Yet, there are these multiple four-way stop intersections without lights in our community…lots of them. Why this is I don’t know. Some sadist in charge of “transportation planning.” You’ve surely seen many fine examples of what happens when road engineers get approval for a project they claim needs to be executed. Drivers usually wish to be executed shortly after these people get their paws on our highways.
On the way home last night as we were carefully negotiating and navigating our way across a couple of these four-way stops, I actually said to my wife how people just seemed incapable of knowing who was next to go, who had the right of way, etc. I usually have my guard up as we traverse this minefield of madness. Little did I know I was foreshadowing one of my all-time incidents at one of these heinous highway requirements.
As I approached the final four-way stop of the evening I encountered but one car out of the possible three. Sweet. I felt comfortable my wife and our flaming food would conquer this last hurdle and allow us to have a relaxing dining experience in the comfort of our own home…just a 1/4 mile away at this point.
However, while I clearly was the first of the two cars to arrive at my stop sign, the driver of the other vehicle pulled up…stopped briefly…and then rolled into the intersection.
It was MY turn. Instant replay would have confirmed it. I was already at my stop sign and was only waiting for that other car to come to a stop. It was MY turn. I was headed straight and so was the other car…but they continued on while I remained parked.
Having been violated for the umpteenth time at this particular locale, I rolled out into the intersection as well. I mean, if you don’t at least try to train these people what hope do we have? The other car stopped. Success. At this point, I felt they had learned their lesson well and I proceeded forward once more…but alas, they did also. It was like a small child was toying with me – I hadn’t even bothered to see who was piloting the opposition vehicle…yet.
Both cars are now practically parked in the middle of the intersection.
The first obscene gesture was made by the driver of the other car. I point that out with a sense of great pride, because what I did immediately thereafter will not go down as one of my finest moments. My wife will verify this.
I returned said foul hand gesture with one of my own. I then locked eyes with my intersectional enemy (a woman who looked to be about our age with a CELL PHONE attached to her head) and rattled off a stream of obscenities clearly audible regardless of the windows being up and the A/C on. Regardless of the decibel count, you did not have to be a lip reader to get the context of my speech.
Having completed both the requisite opening hand gesture and follow-up remarks, I then took the lead and sped off, clearing the intersection first.
And then, flush with adrenaline and filled with the sense of victory…the honk of a horn in the distance.
Having vanquished that other driver, I guess it was her way of trying to win the war even if her battle was lost. I was about to take the high road on this one…but I…just…couldn’t.
I honked back.
Needless to say, the early discussion during the consumption of the now-cooled Chinese food was how I needed to be cooler at these intersections. Take it in stride, don’t get so upset. This from a woman who has come home from many a drive out with the same exact stories of frustration and fury…well, ok…without the gestures and cursing.
I’m not a road rage fellow at all. I wave people along all the time. I take pride in not posting pedestrians on my hood. I’m a good guy at the wheel.
However, I have come to the conclusion we all need to see the light…and install a light…at each and every four-way stop.
With these lights…maybe then I’ll lighten up.