Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's the thing on the steering column, buddy

 By Guest Blogger Mary Jane Maffini

Maryjane4 Now look here, buddy in the Cadillac Escalade: if you can afford that car, you’d think you’d be smart enough to signal when you plan a sudden turn. Just sayin’ as I scrape myself off the dash. Unless you think you are above the law because you’re sitting so high up there. Guess you can afford the lawyer.

Turn signal And as for you, mister with the hat. Are you really choosing to drive 35 in the 55 zone because you are safety conscious? I’m not buying that. Sooner or later, one of the ten cars behind you is going to make a break for it and try passing, safe or not. Think loud bang noises. I suppose you’ll shake your hat head disapprovingly. But never mind that. What’s actually bugging me about you (and I have lots of time to think about it because I’m stuck doing 35 in a 55 zone) is that you haven’t figured out what to do with that little stick thingie on the left hand side of your steering column. Here’s a hint: it’s called a turn signal. Turn. Signal. When you move it up or down, it will cause the appropriate signal light on your vehicle to indicate, well, turns.

I know. What a sensational new notion! As you might suspect, it is to indicate that you are going to turn shortly, say at the next intersection or into the driveway coming up.

Sorry. I couldn’t help yelling at those people. They just get to me. Then, there are the folks who use their signal to mean ‘Hey, look at me! I’m in the process of turning this second!’ Some of them like to let us know that they have already turned by giving us a couple of blinks. ‘Hey! Look where I just went!’

Turn blinker Or the ladies who come to a complete stop before making that turn. Sometimes in the middle of the road. As if they had no idea where they’d head off to next. Me? I had to stand on my brakes the last time. Really, that’s not what the little stick is about. It’s to give people information. When used correctly it can prevent collisions and near misses. Imagine my surprise when a confused gentleman changed lanes three times today and didn’t signal a single one. Shoulder check? I think not. I spotted a couple of drivers give him the finger but I guess he didn’t notice. He didn’t need to signal. He knew where he was going.

Maybe he’s grandpa to buddy in the backwards baseball cap driving the ancient souped-up Supra who just shot across four lanes of traffic at a right angle from the fast lane to get to the off ramp. Apparently there’s no need to signal there, because when you’re crossing four lanes of highway well above the speed limit, it should be obvious that you’re heading for the off ramp. Or with luck the nearest lock-up.

Old lady driving My friend Sue had an ancient auntie, Helen (a retired librarian a woman of strong opinions) who drove in a small Ontario town and refused on principle to use her turn signals. It’s none of their business which way I’m turning,” she continued to say as long as she was able to drive. The roads are a bit safer since she took that opinion to the great beyond. But I argue that where other drivers are going IS my business, not only because I missed a lovely green light due to someone else’s last minute turn, but because I have a life too, you know. I’d like to hang on to it.

So this summer, don’t make the rest of us peevish and if you see this license plate, make sure you signal!

Now that I have that out of my system, let’s hear from you. What annoys you most about the folks you meet on the road?

Closet Confidential Mary Jane Maffini writes three (count 'em!) mystery series. They are: The Fiona Silk Mysteries, the Camilla MacPhee Mysteries, and the fabulous Charlotte Adams professional organizer series from Berkley Prime Crime. As it happens, Mary Jand has a new book out this month called CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL. You can get it (and the others in this series) at your favorite chain bookstore -- and many independents. Or just click on this link and order it online. Check out Mary Jane's website. You can also find her on the Killer Characters blog every 14th of the month. (Hey, that was just the yesterday!)