Gar Anthony Haywood

I greatly enjoyed Zoë’s most recent post here on the subject of respect and the lack thereof so many people these days show to others.  I enjoyed her post so much, in fact, that I’ve decided to riff on it today on this, my Wildcard Tuesday.

This probably isn’t anything you haven’t already noticed, but nowhere is the widespread disrespect Zoe wrote about more apparent than on the streets and byways of America.  When civilization completely breaks down, I firmly believe the fuse will be lit somewhere on the 405 freeway here in Los Angeles.

Angelenos treat the rules and regulations of the road like mild suggestions no one is really expected to take seriously.  Funny, but when I read a “NO RIGHT TURN” sign, I take it very literally, while others…well, let’s just say they must see some fine print on there somewhere that’s invisible to me.

Here, then, are a few common road signs, and the ways they are interpreted by some of the numbskulls who risk our lives daily driving any damn well they please:

THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “Make a half-assed effort to slow down momentarily, then watch for opposing traffic as you blow through the intersection.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “Park here only it you have a need to, and only for the amount of time it will take you to leisurely conduct your business.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “Please don’t turn left here unless it would inconvenience you in some way not to do so.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “Right-of-way doesn’t mean jack if you can’t beat me to the spot, sister.  Let’s go!”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “If they didn’t want people making U-turns here, they would never have put this opening in the island.  Besides, you’re nuts if you think I’m going to drive a block out of my way to turn around legally, instead.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “Relax!  I’m gonna run into the store, fill my cart to the max, than start a huge argument with a cashier when I attempt to get 68 items through the Express Line.  Should only take me a minute.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “You say your lane’s going away and you need to merge into mine?  Sounds like a personal problem to me, pal.  Get lost.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “If you watch for opposing traffic very, very carefully, and do it really quick, you should be able to continue on past this sign for another block or two to reach your destination.   Beats the hell out of going around.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “First of all, I’m not stopping, I’m parking.  Secondly, I left my kids in the car so you know I’m not going to be here long.  And third, there’s no place else to park that’s not at least a block away and my damn feet hurt.”


THE A-HOLE’S INTERPRETATION: “So I’m supposed to hang back and miss the next green up ahead just so some shmuck I don’t know can make his left turn in front of me?  I don’t think so.”


8 thoughts on “WITH ALL UNDUE RESPECT, PT. 2

  1. Kristopher

    What I love is how people think that if they put their flashers on, any place can become a parking space. Umm, not so much folks.

    The only sign I disagree with is the merge sign, only because I can't stand people who see the sign, know the merge is coming and yet stay in that lane until the last possible moment and then expect me to slow down to let them in. Not going to happen. If they attempted this as soon as they saw the sign, I would be more than willing to let them merge, but their desire to get in front of 3 other cars just grates my last nerve.

  2. Lisa Alber

    And let's not forget the special a-hole rules at four-way stop sign intersections…Love the pieholes who slide through on their right-hand turns–without fully stopping–without waiting their turns. I've had folks do that after I've already entered the intersection. So I'm the one who must brake. rrrgh.

    Or, at those handy merge areas…How about when you're in the merging lane, a car length or two ahead of the car in the lane you're merging into, and as soon as that driver sees your polite signal, he/she speeds up to block you?

    I don't know what it is about turn signals that causes people to speed up to block you from changing lanes.

    Oh, and how about the people who can't stand it that you leave two or three car lengths between you and the car ahead of you on the freeway, come barreling up on you from behind, swing into the next lane, and slip in ahead of you, causing you to brake lest you read-end them. Dude, it's not like you're going to get anywhere faster by filling up the little space.

    Wow…once I got started thinking about this. Where's my blood pressure medication?! 🙂

  3. Allison Davis

    Road rage is an understandable phenomena when people get behind the wheel (not unlike SOME people with email) they morph into super asshole. Add to that, pedestrials with headphones looking at their iPhone while jaywalking ("Hello, I'm a car and about to hit you asshole"), or cross the street one at a time at afour way so you sit there for an hour, or the bicyclist who blows through stop signs or comes the other way or otherwise makes all other bicylists look bad by behaving like a jerk. I forgive most bike ills because they aren't polluting but really, you need to be safe.

    I did a cross city tour this morning to get to my favorite dry cleaners so I put on sports radio really loud and listened to Murph and Mac and forgotabouttheassholes. I can't be policing them all the time.

    How about on airplanes when the jerk puts his suitcase in sideways….haha, let's not go there.

  4. Karen, NZ

    I've been told it was suggested by a UK politician some years ago that everyone should ride a motorbike before they drive a car…. teaches you about risk, and defensive driving.

    I think, like respect in some ways driving is more of a privilege than an automatic right – in theory that is.

    Happened to leave TV on last night after the news, and the next programme was about Road Cops here in NZ. We have appalling cases of drinking and driving, and speeding on our roads. How do you get across to people though that they are in charge of a basically lethal weapon? Especially teens.
    As a teenager I had a minor accident (no-one else involved, wasn't hurt, damage to vehicle though) not long after I got my licence, which gave me huge respect for how fast things can happen, and how you're not really in control of a machine which is much bigger than you.

    Respect for vehicles, and on the roads? Dreams are free, right….?! We're still trying to figure out how to change the culture here around alcohol….
    All too easy to notice how respect for anything is lacking, which is why examples such as those Zoë listed in her post stand out so much more these days…. and do I sound like a curmudgeon for saying so?!

  5. Reine

    So, you've never driven in Boston? Where people reserve their winter parking spots – on the street – with lawn chairs? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39654-2004Dec31.html Don't ever move one. Your lights will be bashed in when you return. Where turns from the right lane, across 4 lanes of traffic (skillfully maneuvered at a 4-way stop by parking in front of the other cars to make you let them through) are, ho hum, every-day events on your commute? Where parents can be see teaching their children not to look while crossing the street, because the car might not stop? You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? Where at any given intersection you will find dozens of street signs (some very small and attached to one or two or more others) that you are expected to read and understand as you pass through? http://www.flickr.com/photos/nnecapa/2868248691/ or where improved signage http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/11/18/street_smarts/?page=full is even more confusing? Where a flashing green light at a crosswalk means "caution" a pedestrian might want to walk here in this crosswalk, but don't slow down, because see the light is green? But it's flashing, so be careful? http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/03/lines_lights_and_rule_breakers/?page=full When we want you to slow down it will stop flashing and turn yellow?

  6. Jake Nantz

    My favorite? Precipitation in North Carolina. Rain means "OH-MY-GOD-SLOW-DOWN-WE-MIGHT-SLIP-OFF-THE-ROAD/HIGHWAY/PLANET-AND-DIE!!!" And snow? Snow on the roads is really fun when, for some special idiots, it means, "Hey, my car has all-wheel drive, and I got it going straight on snow and ice, so now I'll do NINETY, BABY, 'cause getting it going tells me I can stop it just as easily!!!"

    Yeah. That bugs me. Until I see them wrapped around a tree…then I figure justice was done and I move on.

    Is that disrespectful of me? Should I stop and make it a point to laugh instead?

  7. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Gar

    When I was doing some work in Milan a few years ago, I discovered the secret of the Italian system of traffic lights:

    Green = go
    Amber = go faster
    Red = go faster still, with particular attention to steering …

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