b_1_q_0_p_0Bet THAT got your attention, right?

It’s the only solution (see that little asterisk thing as to why the is no REAL solution) to the namesake problem discussed in this blog – people driving too slowly in the left lane.

Let’ first address what causes this malady of the pavement. More often than not, it is drivers of advanced age, who are certain, at some point in what’s left of their life, they will be making a left turn off of the road they now travel. Not within the next mile or so, mind you, or perhaps even within this state (especially as most states do not have left-side exits off their interstates). It could well be that they will come to a fork in the road, and instead of stopping to pick it up so as not to cause tire-punctures on drivers behind them (note – they are NOT aware there are drivers behind them), they will ultimately take a fork to the left as they proceed on toward their destination).

roadrageAnd we cannot blame the good folks who make GPS devices. They never say “In 58.5 miles you will need to be in the left-hand lane to merge left.” No, they do not make you aware of such a necessary lane change until, quite correctly, 4-5 miles before the alteration in road path needs to be taken.

powerpoint-presentation-the-face-of-road-rage-1-638Perhaps it is (and I have thought this more than once) that they see the left lane is less populated, and they, in their land yachts, feel less intimidated having fewer cars around them – so they shift over there to avoid such “congestion.” Thankfully, California (and some other states), have HOV lanes to the far left, allowing those with two or more people traveling in the same vehicle (thus High Occupancy Vehicle – HOV) – giving the drivers of said autos the benefit of a less-congested lane, as they are reducing their carbon footprint by ride-sharing. Great idea! However, you will still catch our ominpresent Slow Left-Laners even attempting use of that lane, when solo rambling, because it looks even LESS congerous (congested and thus dangerous).

Look, this is how it’s laid out, assuming a 3-lane highway with an additional far left HOV lane:

  • RIGHT LANE – slowest speed (though these vehicles SHOULD at least be traveling the posted speed limit, and not 10 miles under, with their road maps unfurled across the entire front seat of the vehicle, with the radio turned off – because you can’t find an address if you have music blaring in your ears), and the only time these vehicles should be slowing down is if there is an emergency services vehicle approaching from the rear and they need to yield the lane [as I have mentioned In blogs past, many BAD drivers interpret the SPEED LIMIT sign as indicating the fastest speed you should ever travel on the highway, and thus easing off the accelerator to go 10 miles slower than said posted limit is perfectly acceptable – NO IT’S NOT!!!!!!!];
  • “MIDDLE” LANE – this lane is generally used by people fed up with the crappy driving practices of those freshly-lobotomized “drivers” in the right lane mentioned earlier – they are not out to set land speed records, nor are they adding a couple of digits to their speedometer to impress the ladies (or guys) – they are simply speeding up just a bit in order to get around the maroons driving in the right lane as if they were on the way to a funeral and THEY were the corpse – they will likely return to the right lane once they have cleared the impudent impedence caused by those driving-slower-than-walking;
  • LEFT LANE – much to the chagrin of those 10-mph-less-than-the-posted-speed-limit drivers in the right lane, these folks stated purpose is to drive several miles per hour ABOVE the posted speed limit. They live life on the razor’s edge, often considering themselves the Mad Maxes of the interstate system (it’s also far less bumpy in that lane, as less vehicles have driven it over and over again, thus breaking down the pavement laid down every year by sixteen guys – when only 4 would suffice – so that the state can continue receiving funds for their road infrastructure every year, to do the same thing over and over); and,
  • HOV LANE – this has been properly described hereabove, and despite the fact that it should not be part of this equation, even though it does reduce congestion in all 3 of the other lanes, it is often abused by the REALLY bad Right-Laners who do not understand its intended purpose – they are simply mumbling to themselves (“Gotta watch Wopner… these are definitely not my underwear…”). And wibbling and wobbling across multiple lanes to get in a lane they believe is tailor-made for them results in even more danger.

keira-knightley-20549And, let’s not forget the Domino Effect they cause (not the bounty hunter, made hot by Keira Knightley). L\Slowpokes in the left lane force our aforementioned razor’s edge drivers into the middle lane, where their frustration is further fueled to the point of road rage. And those guys frighten the timid right lane drivers, who slow down even further, for fear of being PITT-maneuvered by drivers far superior to them. And soon all lanes trickle back, leaving you, 2.7 miles back in .3 MPH traffic wondering what horrific bus-of-schoolchildren-collided-with-a-napalm-tanker-truck accident you’re doing to see when you finally reach the point of rubber necking. And then, when you finally get to that point? Nothing? No wreckage, no bodies, no rubber marks on the road, no smashed marmosets, no NOTHING!! Does this ignite your own road rage? You damn skippy!!

istock-road-rage1And so, this is the perfect segue for the blowdarting Amazonians… right? I think marmosets come from the Amazon. Or, if they don’t, they should.

Anyway, our friendly dart-blowers (blowdarters?) would patrol the inner and outer shoulders of major interstate systems (The inner, you say? Why the inner? Have you forgotten the HOV violators?). This negates the need for firearm-wielding fanatics sniping crappy drivers off the highway (though I know the lines would be around the block to sign up for those positions), as well as explosive blowouts, endangering other drivers.

road-rage-memes-07These blowdarters (yes, I’ve decided, I like blowdarters better than dartblowers) are trained, almost from birth, to develop deadly accuracy with even the simplest of implements. They can take down a marmoset at 50 yards. Just think what they could do to steel-belted radials? Brilliant, right?

Of course, the alternative would be to equip them with poison darts, permanently ridding the highways of these menaces to middle and left land drivers.

*Of course, we’d really have to crank up poison tree frog reproduction…


Doctor-Who-Dont-Blink-t-shirtI can’t believe I haven’t brought up the subject of blinkers to date, especially as often as I see infractions of the use/non-use of them. This rant will be in two parts, so as not to overwhelm the reading audience with too lengthy a tirade (in the event an intermission/bathroom break is needed midway).


Unless you’re going to employ the still-valid, tried-and-true method of advising all drivers around you of your intended variation from your current course by use of hand signals (ideal for cyclists, whether motor, bi, tri, or any other contraption that may or may not have built-in electric notification devices). If you employ such modes of transportations, especially bi or tri, good on ‘ya. Saving the environment and all that stuff, plus exercising multiple muscles, increasing your heartbeat (and thus strengthening the muscle itself), forcing you to breathe non-stagnant apartment air replete with toxins (so you can venture outside and get your RDA of toxins), kicking the sweat glands into overdrive to assist in flushing of aforementioned toxins, drinking more fluids in order to stay hydrated (as well as aiding in the aforementioned [how many times is he going to use that word?] flushing of toxins via urination, etc. – all noble and healthy causes (not that I am guilty of any such practices – you can ask my doctor [even though she can’t legally talk about it]; she would likely hold me up [not that should could pick me up] as an example of what NOT to do by not doing all of the above).image004

So, now that you know how to use your hand/arm to signal fellow travelers along your route, I realize all too well that you will NOT employ these simple actions while in your car. Reasons? A plethora:

  • I’ll have to roll the window down (though you young people have absolutely no clue why we say “roll the window up,” when you’ve never had to do so – all you do is hit a button, and even that is taxing, and takes your hand off your phone, thus preventing you from listening to that newfangled rock’n’roll, or, worse, texting, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, jackass!)
  • I’ll have to eventually roll the window back up (see previous extended spew/explanation)
  • “I can’t take both hands off the wheel!!! We’ll all crash and burn and stuff!” Sorry, unless you’re 102, 5’-nothing tall, and are hunched over the steering wheel using your chin as an additional steering device, this does not apply to you. If you are all of the above, I do NOT want to know your secret. I’m only in my late 50s as of this writing. Can you imagine how crotchetcurmudgeonassholebitchy I would be if I lived much longer?
  • “A vehicle coming in the opposite direction might lop my limb off!”
  • “My nails aren’t dry! I just finished applying nail polish and mascara for the last 50 miles and don’t want to have that all go to waste!”
  • “I’ll end up with multiple hits from the widest possible variety of Amazonian fauna.”
  • “It’s too hot outside to roll down the window!”
  • “It’s too cold outside to roll down the window!”
  • “It’s raining outside and if my arm gets wet I’ll have to pull over immediately and re-enact the witch’s ‘I’m melting…’ scene from The Wizard of Oz (NOT the Diana Ross one).”
  • “It’s too polleny outside – I would need a thorough disinfecting immediately upon egress.” (Be honest, you likely needed that disinfecting BEFORE you even got into the car… in fact, now that we’re talking about it, you might wanna go ahead and get that done – your co-workers, complete strangers, pets, and innumerable non-domesticated small furry animals are starting to complain).

That being said – wait, what was my point? Oh yeah, the fact that your cranium is too thick, thus there is less space for a functioning brain, and you will not use simple hand signals, you are left with only one alternative (or, maybe others, but that’s not the point right now… and stop calling me ‘Shirley’) – BLINKERS!!!!

200Call them what you will (they’re inanimate objects and would not answer if called anyway). Blinkers, turn signals, directional indicator (aren’t you fancy, you ponce!), signal light, trafficator (it is TOO a real word… I’m not just trying to win at Scrabble because there’s a Triple Word Score square in the middle of that); they all refer to those easily-activated plastic/glass-encased bulbs – usually amber in color – which were graciously installed by the union workers of the manufacturers of your automobile (OK, for the sake of simplicity, we are simply going to assume all vehicles about which we are speaking will be “cars,” even though the same equipment and functions are applied to vans, buses, motorcycles, lorries, scooters, taxis (don’t even get me STARTED about taxis!!!), tractor/trailer rigs (with or without trailer), those screwy Sharper Image bars on wheels that 10 people can sit on and pedal their way through the streets (though technically, I don’t think they can drink anything above a 3.2 level, and if that’s the case, why?), and even the horse and buggy contraptions used by the Amish (or Pennsylvania Dutch as they are often called – not to their face, mind you, as they may punch you with their horse – and while we’re on the subject, given multiple precedents, shouldn’t it be “Dutch Pennsylvanians,” like “African Americans,” “Mexican Americans,” etc., placing the country of origin first? I’m just sayin’… I actually know someone who grew up in that part of the world, and I will check with him as a reliable resource, and append this rant with what’s sure to be the unquestionably correct explanation) to trot slothy tourists about the beautiful countryside in and around Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Yes, there is such a place – I just needed a way to fit that into the conversation.

turnsignalSo, who is responsible for the now-omnipresent turn signal? Good question! Glad you asked. Shows that you’re paying attention and are not simply a lump of flan going bad in the cupboard. According to – yes, I have references! – Second Chance Garage: For The Car Restoration Enthusiast (Have you ever seen car restorers? They’re usually quite enthusiastic… “No honey, I did not buy smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for the entire house to ensure the safety of our family. I stopped by the Enthusiastic Restorer Store – by the way, those guys must brush their teeth every hour, because I was almost blinded by their enthusiastically white smiles – and gleefully picked up this 19-ought-8 turn signal for my Edsel Model T Cabriolet El Camino! Isn’t it cool!!??? Honey, you don’t seem very enthusiastic…?!” I think I’ve tangentialized a bit too verbiagely here…). On the website I mentioned waaaaaaaay back before, their article, entitled, appropriately enough, “Turn, Turn, Turn: A History of the Turn Signal,” states (and I have no real reason to doubt them):

In 1907 Percy Douglas-Hamilton applied for a patent (received in 1909 as U.S. patent 912831) for a device “indicating the intended movements of vehicles.”

How convenient is that? Oh, they also have lots of other words I could plagiarize at this time, but that would require even more useless typing than I’m already employing, when all you really need to do is click on the link above to read all about the fascinating – and remember, enthusiastic! – history of blinkers, ad nauseum.

1936-stainless-steel-ford1Ooooh, by the way, while I was on that website I found those little graphic links to other “relevant” stuff (like when you’re on a website researching the true history of the Naked Mole Rat and down at the bottom is a link to Girls Gone Wild with Massive Jugs in Bonaire), and one of them happened to be about Stainless Steel Fords. Evidently, for some reason explained in detail in the article I couldn’t be bothered to read, some wacky guy ended up giving the green light (interesting segue from blinkers, dontcha think?) to producing 6 (not 7, and not 5… 4 is right out) of these babies in 1936 (only 4 survive to this day). I just thought it was cool…

Now, what was I talking about? Marmosets? No… oh yeah, blinkers. Marmosets rarely, if ever, use their blinkers. Little Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, self-entitled pricks.

So, now that we all know everything there is to know about blinkers, I have only one word for you – USETHEGODDAMNTHINGS!!!!!!! Unless you are crainially-deficient (and I don’t just mean your head is the size of Albert Einstein’s breakfast soft-boiled egg, but you have a skull – or not – completely devoid of that spongy thing that makes us speak gud… what do they call those? Oh yeah, BRAINS!!!!!!), THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON NOT TO USE YOUR BLINKERS!!!!

Silvery-Marmoset-Mico-Argentatus-copiaIn many parts of the country, world, presumably other planets, etc., it is against the law NOT to employ your turn signal to indicate your veerance (made-up word) from your otherwise-continuous direction of travel (though evidently marmosets are exempt from this rule… grrrrrrr….). You may be written a ticket, charged a fine, scolded soundly by the local gendarme, paddled on the side of the road like the bad boy/girl that you are (I assume this applies to boys and girls, and not just boy/girls), etc.

Have I made my point clear? Do you understand the community service I am providing by giving you this highly-educational (and not-quite-as-boring as the Sex Ed class taught by your “I-wear-my-shirts-3-sizes-too-small-to-show-off-my-muscular-areas!” Physical Education instructor – the only guy who could make such a topic yawn-inducing… though I imagine a marmoset’s presentation on the same subject might be equally un-understandable) and invaluable lesson? Will you pass this along to your children (who will simply roll their eyes and point out that you have no idea what it’s like being a kid), and your grandchildren (who will also roll their eyes, point out that grandpa is off his rocker – or Naugahyde Barcalounger – and hit him up for cash when mom and dad aren’t looking [likely distracted by roving bands of non-traffic-safety-observing marmosets])? I certainly hope so.

The alternative is a world without rules – and lots of traffic accidents. Civilization as we know it will disintegrate, and the planet will be taken over by – you guessed it (ever seen any of the Planet of the Apes movies? Not the recent Mark Wahlburg ones, but the Chuck Heston “Get your paws off my you damn dirty ape!” ones) – Marmosets! And that is simply a world in which I cannot live. I would have to move to Canada.


PART TWO (forgot about that one, didn’t you?) – TURNOFFYOURGODDAMNBLINKERS!!!!!

Real simple, even for marmosets. Once you have completed your course alteration, having faithfully employed your factory-installed, amber in color (well, the plastic, not the bulb), your vehicle SHOULD automatically turn itself back to the I’m-waiting for the next time you faithfully employ your turn signal to indicate a course change so as to alert other drivers and not cause an accident and not get a ticket mode. However, one caviar (or is that caveat? I never get that straight – no wonder French waiters look at me funny when I order “A steaming big bowl of Sevruga Caveat,” at which point they throw me to the marmosets) of this automatic turning off thingy: if your turn has not been of a sufficient degree (and you said you would never need the Pythagorean Theorem, so why should you have to learn it?), the vehicle does not recognize that you have actually made said intended turn, and will remain blinking to its heart’s content (what, you thought turn signals didn’t have a heart? You insensitive prick!).

In this case, there is likely an annoying “clicka-clicka-clicka-clicka-clicka-clicka” sound being emitted inside your passenger compartment (you can probably also hear it in the glove compartment – hell, the body in the trunk can certainly hear it, as it’s right next to the damn blinkers). This will be accompanied by a visual cue, on your digital, or analog, dashboard, right next to that mysterious I-don’t-know-what-it-means light in the shape of a car engine that just remains on all the time. It will show one of your arrows, or the other one, still blinking, even though you now no longer have any intent to veer off course.

HOWEVER, no one outside your little “clicka clicka” world can read your mind (except the marmosets), and so have no idea if you’re going to turn on that next upcoming road… OK, not that one, likely the next one… OK, not that one either, so surely the next one… not that one either??? When is this bag of douche going to turn for cripes’ (who is this “cripes” guy?) sake?????

My final point here (thank Odin he’s about to finish – talk like that will get me typing even more) is to make sure that, once your turn has completed, YOUTURNOFFYOURGODDAMNBLINKER!!!! Otherwise, someone on a side road will assume you are slowing down to turn immediately before entering your personal automotive space, and he will thus enter your oncoming lane of traffic. This is usually followed by one of those 1960s Batman-style BLAM! graphics, and loud noises to match. Then, assuming no concussions, there will be an extreme amount of cursing-blaming-threatening-to-punch-you-into-the-next-century talk. You don’t want that. Or do you? You are one weird character.

Just make sure you’re not driving from Key West to Seattle with your right turn signal blinking. Someone – maybe a marmoset – will justifiably shoot you before you reach Ottumwa, Iowa.

Thank you for your attention. You may now go back to watching Family Feud hosted by whoever is not getting acting gigs anymore.



It has been too long since I last contributed to this blog, and it’s certainly not because anyone has gotten better at driving, parking, or otherwise wielding an automobile. I simply let my typing lapse, and it remains to be seen whether I shall do so again immediately following this post.YOU SUCK AT PARKING1

In any event, I wanted to update those very few followers of this blog of my latest “notice” to horrific parking lot abusers. Here you will see the front of a 2-sided card, which I usually place under a windshield wiper, or tucked into the driver’s-side window. Now, naturally, they see this from a distance and think to themselves, “Oh brother, somebody’s plastered the parking lot with some patriotic crap.” If they were to peruse their companion parkers, they would doubtless notice that they (the offender) were the ONLY car to receive this ostensibly-patriotic notice. It’s only when they get close enough to pluck said card from its resting place and actually read the text that they realize what it REALLY is…

The original version of this card was much simpler, had no James Montgomery Flagg Uncle Sam thereupon, was not festooned with patriotic colors, etc, but when it came time to replace the ever-dwindling batch of the previous supply (believe me, when people find out I have these, a box of 500 disappears quite rapidly, as my minions spread these out everywhere, albeit judiciously), I decided the new card needed a bit more “punch.”

YOU SUCK AT PARKING2So, in addition to just notifying them of their egregious mockery of carefully-painted parking space lines, I thought I would further explain the reasoning behind the card (which assumes, perhaps presumptively, that the driver can actually READ – mayhaps someone else in the car can read it to him or her as needed). I intentionally made the text compact and unique, so the reader would have to WORK at “deciphering” all that it says. While I provide the example herein, I will assume you are not an offending offensive offender, and so I quote you the back side of the card unabridged and unexpurgated:

    “You either: Parked too close, leaving no room to get in my car; Parked crooked[ly], making it impossible to get out; Took up 2 spaces when you could have taken 1; Parked in an idiotic spot and blocked my exit. It’s as if you were blindfolded while a crazed ferret clawed at your privates, and thus your bull-headed, inconsiderate, feeble attempt has caused you to take up enough room for a 20 mule team, 2 elephants, 1 goat, and a safari of Pygmies from the African interior, thus being a dipshit in general. In the future, you may think of someone else, other than yourself. May the fleas of 1,000 camels infest your armpits.
    “Oh, and BTW, I posted a picture of your parking skills on the internet for everyone to see.”

While I could likely drone on ad nauseum with additional commentary on the driver’s questionable birth parents, or stooped to an endless string of words usually represented in mass market comic strips as “%*&~$#@+^,” I opted instead not to lower myself any closer to the driver’s obvious 1-digit IQ score.

I hope that, reading this, you develop your own version of this card/notice, keeping several with you in your own vehicle at all times. You may be surprised (initially, but not for long) at how many of these you will end up handing out. My last order from the printer was for 1,000 of these jewels, and while I do pass some out to relatives and close friends/associates, I have strategically placed more than my fair share of these notices, in hopes that ONE day, it will have an effect on even ONE of the drivers so notified.

Well, I can always hope…



In my “salad days,” as my mother was wont to say quite often (which is a bit redundant, because if you are wont to do something, it naturally follows that you do it often), I opened and ran one of a small chain of ceiling fan stores, whose home base was in Little Rock, Arkansas (the reason I ended up in that progressive cosmopolitan mecca – never did I receive a question so often as “Why in the world would you move to Little Rock?”*). It was actually a ceiling-fan-slash-framed-art-slash-brassware-slash-portable-lighting-slash-mirror-slash-crystal store, seeing as the ceiling fan aspect of the place only occupied the top 2 feet of the room; something was needed to cut down on the echoing, so they added all the other odds and ends. And let me tell you, solid brassware (as opposed to brass plated zinc) is a true pain in the glutes to maintain, as once it’s touched by human (or simian) hands, the oils break down whatever miniscule protection the brass actually came with, and thus it starts to dull. You have to use Brass-O, rubbing the aforementioned brass piece all over (crikey, he’s already heavily-hyphenated and tossed in an “aforementioned” before exiting the first paragraph!), and then buffing same off after it dries to a dull haze (sort of like Turtle Wax and your dad’s Fiat).

The true rump-reamer was a full-sized solid brass rocking horse (full-sized for a rocking horse, that is, not full-sized for a horse – though I suppose it could be full-sized for one of those cute little miniature horses), of which every one of the stores received one to place prominently in the front window. That was one gigantic tush-tanner to keep bright and shiny, let me tell you.

But I digress (when do I not?).

The retail store was located in a small strip shopping center, replete with grocery store, a greeting card shop, some sort of automotive parts outlet, and a Pizza Hut. I usually ran the store solo, so for lunch I would tape up a piece of paper with “Back in 5 minutes” scribbled on it, and would walk up the slightly-inclined parking lot to get a salad bar to go – to this day, I cannot think of a better salad dressing than Pizza Hut’s Creamy Italian. As I have described before, it’s the kind of thing that sets off whatever those receptors are in the hinges of your jaw, both over-salivating your oral cavity and locking your face up almost to the point of pain, in anticipation of taking the first bite of the incredible tart-salty-deliciousness of the dressing – hell, it’s doing that right now, and I haven’t been to the Hut in 2-3 years. Damn, now I’m going to have to go find one tomorrow just to get the buffet – and they damn sure better have chopped hard boiled eggs on the salad bar. They are an essential part of the taste conglomeration I assemble, prior to slathering on the Italian dressing. Also included is lettuce (usually Iceberg – and I do my best to ensure I don’t get any of the big chunky tasteless cores, which all-too-often remain in the lettuce bowl, adding bulk but no flavor – and why do they insist on shaving bits of purple cabbage and julienned carrots in there? Surely it’s just for color. Anyway, as to the Iceberg, I don’t believe they stock any other varieties, though Hearts of Romaine would be right out, as I do not go to the Hut for Caesar salads), sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa (or bean) sprouts, Bac-O’s (not real bacon bits, but the artificial crumbles that are actually supplied by the American Dental Association – along with Corn Nuts and Sugar Babies – as a means to keep teeth in the seats), chopped hardboiled eggs (I already said that), and that’s about it. I don’t really feel like polluting my salad with pine nuts (pines got nuts?), cottage cheese (someday I’m really going to have to look into the etymology of that stuff), or, heaven forefend, beets.

I could go off on an entirely new tangent on beets, though suffice it to say that borscht, or any other beet-laden (Christ, it’s almost impossible to finish a sentence without hyphenating something) comestible, would result in projectile vomiting on the part of the writer, along with sweet potatoes/yams (I don’t know for certain that they are exactly the same thing, but I use the slash nonetheless – and as far as they are concerned, they are one of the few specific entries in my baby book that my mother took pains to detail – “Do NOT feed sweet potatoes!” – evidently projectile vomiting resulted even at the Gerber stage, and continues to this day – and no, don’t tell me “Well, you just haven’t tried them the way I make them.” I hate them ANY way ANYone makes them.).

I’m not sure how much further I can tangentalize… but give me a chance, I bet I can one-up myself…

Where were we? Oh yeah, in my ceiling-fan-slash-solid-brass-rocking-horse outlet. And right in front of the store, among all the other parking spots that T’d right up to the curb, was a Handicapped Parking space (not a Disabled Person Parking space – a Handicapped Parking space). And, for the most part, that space would lay empty, save the occasional visit from someone who had either a permanent handicapped license plate, or (I believe they existed at that time) one of the placards that hangs from the rearview mirror.

Now, while business was often brisk – especially on Saturdays in the spring and summer – there were often lulls in shopper traffic. As there were not computers back in the halcyon days of my young adulthood (this was @1984, you will recall), and we had no television in the store, our only means of recreation included polishing that godd*mn solid brass rocking horse, listening to the radio, or diligently watching the Handicapped Parking spot for violators.

On at least one occasion, I noted the space occupied with a non-appropriately-tagged vehicle, while a very elderly gentleman, walking with a cane, was forced to park slightly uphill (closer to the Pizza Hut, which was not his destination), meander gingerly downhill to buy his groceries, and then trek somewhat laboriously back up the hill with his weekly rations. This pissed me off, justifiably so.

I worked the store with an assistant manager, as well as, on lucky occasions, my footnotedly-mentioned-fiancée, a truly beautiful woman, who was (and is) very intelligent, and a good worker. We took it upon ourselves to become guardians of the Handicapped Parking space. It didn’t matter if the rest of the spaces around it were wide open – if someone parked in that space illegally (and rest assured, it is illegal to park in a Handicapped Parking space unless you have the appropriate license plate or placard), we would call a tow truck.

No polite Post-Its. No stepping out to have a word with the douchebag. If your car resided in that spot, and was not correctly identified as being legitimately parked there, for whatever length of time (“I’m just running in to get a pack of cigarettes”), we called the ever-ready towing company that serviced the shopping center.

Granted, the towing company was often too slow to make it in time to haul off the transgressors. Quite often the offending party would leave the motor running and dash in for a pack of cigarettes. The only thing they would get would be a scowl from me, while standing out in front of their vehicle, tapping my foot impatiently.

However, those slugs who parked illegally who were equally sluggish in returning to their vehicles would often find an empty spot where their car once lived. They would usually stop suddenly, look around in shocked horror and disbelief, and then start looking up and down the lot to see if the car hadn’t somehow been naughty and decided to play hide-and-seek (justifiably hyphenated) with its owner. Only after they realized that their automobile was a machine, and not an impish child, did they follow the obvious path, directly into my store, as it was immediately in front of their former parking spot.

“Excuse me, did you see what happened to my car?” “Why yes, yes I did. A towing truck came and took it away.” “Why would they do that?” they blustered (assuming that their vehicle would only have been towed if they were 3-4 months late on the payments). “Well, sir, this shopping center does have a rather strict enforcement policy on illegally parking in a Handicapped Parking space. Perhaps that was the problem? Do you have a Handicapped Parking license plate, or placard?” “Well, no, but I was just going in for a pack of cigarettes.”

I would then proceed to supply them with the telephone number of the towing company, who was always eager to tow anyone, as they profited from the enterprise. As this was pre-cellphone-era, the slugs would then immediately ask to use my phone to call the towing company. “I’m sorry, sir. This phone is only available for company business. We have to leave it open for customers.” Actually, that was not company policy for the telephone. I don’t believe there was a written policy for the telephone, unless it was to drop whatever you were doing – including polishing the damnable solid brass rocking horse – to answer it. So, in denying the slug access to the store telephone, I guess you could say I was being a bit prickish. Hell, you could, and would, say that about me now, whether it had anything to do with Handicapped Parking spots, or something else.

The de-automobiled slug would then have to march about 100 feet down the strip to call using the pay phone located outside the Kroger (at least I think it was a Kroger). Presumably, the slugs would resolve their situation, retrieve their vehicle, at great expense, and then hopefully think twice about parking illegally in a Handicapped Parking spot ever again. That was likely wishful thinking – they probably took the next possible opportunity to violate the law in the next shopping center they visited, never learning from their transgression, or taking their fellow-less-than-able-neighbor into account. Assholes.


I love the caption on this...


So, even unto this day, I eyeball every single car parked in a Handicapped Parking space on any given lot, whether my own place of business, or someplace I am visiting. If there is no sign of a plate or placard, and I see one of those signs posted on the lot indicating the name and number of the towing company the parking lot owners use, you can bet I will drop a dime on the slug, and hopefully have his ass hauled away before he gets back from buying his pack of cigarettes.


* Because they paid me a (relative) lot of money, at least for 1984, seeing as I was relatively single (OK, I was engaged, and left a truly wonderful, luscious woman… stupid, stupid, stupid), and had only ever worked in retail up to that point. I have made dumber decisions in my life…

OK, so the LowCountry of South Carolina doesn’t get that much snow, granted – although we did actually have a serious blizzard last year (when I say blizzard, in South Carolina-relative terms, I mean it snowed long enough for the ground and roads to get covered for more than 8 hours, and you could pack some really awesome snowballs, because it wasn’t that super-dry powder you want to schuss across – not that I would ever schuss, mind you – nor was it that superfine but unpackable mini-ice-cube snow that hurts like a mother when you get pinged by an iceball to the temple).

And no, I have never resided anyplace that took a serious snow for granted (forecast for Bangor, Maine, 18”-24” of snow in the morning, followed by flurries of 1’-3’ in the afternoon; then the really serious stuff starts coming down – and that’s the July 27th forecast). I have lived where there would be no snow at all, unless it was immediately preceded by the 16 horsesteps of the 4 Horsemen, but I have also lived where snow happened an average of 2-3 times a year – enough that it’s not the end of days, but at the same time panic still runs rampant in the tri-state area.

Unfortunately, that panic metamorphoses the larval slugs whose 1977 Datsun F-10* is coated with a thick sediment of garage dust, with tires sagging deeply at the measly 10psi left of their 1976 air (oh yes, they bought this peach when it was brand new, back when the next year’s models rolled out late in the previous year – of course, that was back when you could reliably count on the new TV season starting in the first 2 weeks of September, running through spring, and then reruns of same until the cycle rebooted the following September; now you have at least 3 TV “seasons,” with mid-summer replacements running in December – leaves me as confused as a newborn in a topless bar).

These aforementioned pre-ugly-butterflies-sitting-in-their-footed-jammies-and-slippers (OK, my most common outfit) apparently only ever gnaw their way out of their cocoons (they were home schooled, so they’ve spent the bulk of their life in this outfit – granted, it’s a bit snug now) when such meteorological happenstances occur, realizing with shock and horror that, for the 2.2 days the roads may be somewhat less than ideal for motoring, they may not have enough of the 4 basic food groups stocked up next to their MREs.

The 4 Basic Food Groups? The same comestibles upon which man has survived since the first knuckles were dragged in an upright, bipedal position: Milk, Bread, Eggs, and Cheese – as if you could not survive those 2.2 days without a toasted egg and cheese sandwich, dunked in 2%. But I guarantee you, before the talking head bimbo (male or female) – you know, the one who has the inkjet “Certified Meteorologist” certificate thumbtacked up in his/her cubicle at the station – can utter the first two letters of the word, these post-cocoon slugs rise with a hue and cry (stick your head out the window – you will hear the cumulative hue and mass cry) as if the spaceship was coming out from behind the comet and they suddenly realized their purple track suit was at the cleaners.

So, what do these dairy/gluten/poultry-deprived wombats do? They thrown on their down parkas or full-length-female mink strollers (because male mink are wider and thus it takes less of them to produce and thus they are cheaper to make and so they cost less, but you can’t be seen wearing a male mink coat, because everyone whose anyone will know you are a cheap bastard) – over their union suits – and go screaming out the door to their waiting Slugmobiles.

“Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed.” “Roger. Ready to move out.” Then the F-10 fires up – well, not so much fires up as cranks ceaselessly like you were punching a baboon in the solar plexus, and only after a severe case of carpel tunnel from twisting the key so many times does the beast finally roar to life, and they come tearing out of the detached garage.

And why, you ask, rightly so, does any of this matter? Because a) these people, who have nothing more to do than watch TV all day, and thus would have had far greater access to the Weather Channel than “normal” human beings, would have had plenty of forewarning of the impending Donner Party-level blizzard, and could have stocked their stores days or weeks in advance; and 2) BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE UNDER PRISTINE CONDITIONS, LET ALONE DURING PERIODS WHEN THE HIGHWAY PATROL ISSUES A CREEP ACROSS THE BOTTOM OF THE LIFETIME NETWORK’S SCREEN TELLING PEOPLE NOT TO GET OUT AND DRIVE UNLESS THEY ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO.

These piles of monkey nuts so rarely see the bright light of day, that individually cascading flakes of death (which they have to count, owing to their OCD) so totally distract them as to further impede their already nonexistent driving “skills.” They apply their standard driving techniques, extinct as they are, to thoroughfares covered in black ice, melted and refrozen snow – basically anything other than blow-dried asphalt.

While I could ramble on ad nauseum on the entire drivin-in-the-snow theme (oh, god, please, no), I will, for the nonce, stick to bridges.

Firstly, I would naturally admonish those of you who fall into the previously-described states of larvaeness to remain in your houses, curled up next to your 17” black and white Philco TVs with the aluminum foal on the rabbit ears to increase reception. However, as I know you will ignore me, I must instruct you on how to drive across bridges when there’s snow accumulated on same.

The soundest advise I can give is to move to a town where there are no bridges. Or hills. Or curves in the road. Or roads. There, I think that covers it.

No, I know you will foolishly ignore my sound logic, offered only to save my life.

So, I Googled for information on driving across bridges:

Bridges are one of most dangerous things to drive on during a storm. They freeze before roads and you should use extra caution when passing over them. Do not break [sic] [if you don’t know why I put the “[sic]” there, you need to go back to elementary school and understand homonyms – not “homophones” – back when I went to school, we didn’t have “homophones,” something my daughter came home with several years ago, and had I initially seen that in print, I would assume that “Out” magazine was offering gender-specific telephonic devices)] on bridges if you can help it. Even if it is raining and the temperature is just above freezing, be mindful that bridges are probably frozen. Also, remember that some roads that do not have ground on either side of them or just one side of them are also like bridges and will freeze first.

That pretty much covers why you shouldn’t drive over bridges, especially when it snows. Of course, you may already have a pre-existing condition that would thankfully keep you off such structures when it snows – gephyrophobia – which would presumably ward you off bridges full-time.

But no, we’re not lucky enough for you to be gephyrophobic, or have common sense. So, you either floor the accelerator (again, remember that we’re driving on snow/ice-covered roads) to get onto the bridge, and rather than simply allowing your vehicle’s momentum to carry you the rest of the way across, you suddenly realize you are likely moving too fast for current conditions, and so you slam on the “breaks” [sic on purpose – you know it’s brakes].

And what happens? You stop, right? No. Duh. You continue, unimpeded by your nonjudicious braking, and in fact, rather than continuing in a straight line, you are now doing what we in the business call “fishtailing.” First, I didn’t know fish could drive, and second, they REALLY don’t have experience driving in snow. Rain, however, they might have covered.

So, you sideswipe several oncoming and driving-alongside vehicles in your brilliant Emerson Fittipaldi-esque slide, taking out fellow slugnuts whose selfsame goal is the acquisition of 1% (they fit better into their adult onesies than you), lowfat cheddar, Eggland’s Best, and New York Seedless Rye (how can they keep calling this stuff “New York,” when it’s made in West Virginia by people who can’t eat Seeded Rye because those little suckers will get trapped in the dental bridge attached by the only remaining tooth in their head?).

Let’s circle back to the root cause for all of this mayhem. You do not actually NEED the 4 basic food groups for the 2.2 days this crisis will last. You have enough Ramen Noodles in your cupboard – the stuff that contains all the nutrients of life, and is probably what comets carried that seeded the earth with life 2.4 billion years ago – to last until the next millennium.

Milk? Seriously, haven’t you read about how BAD milk probably is for you? Oh sure, when I was a kid you were told if you didn’t drink a gallon a day, you would end up stunted and tongueless (I’m not sure about the tongueless). But now, they are saying – whoever “they” are – that milk is detrimental to you. And thus it follows that cheese is bad for you.

Eggs? The jury’s still out on them. Yes, they’re chock full of protein, but can evidently adversely affect your cholesterol levels. And think about it – how many eggs can you eat in one 2.2 day period without your apartment starting to smell like that additive they put in natural gas to alert you to the fact that you should run screaming out of said apartment because there’s a gas leak (today’s educational tidbit – natural gas has no smell on its own, so the gas companies have to add a chemical to it so your nostrils can spot the presence of it – or supply all natural gas customers with little canaries).

Bread? Carbs. Bad. Unless you go out in the snow that’s already falling to harvest your own wheat (or rye), crush it with your handy mortar and pestle, and make your own flour, mix your own dough, knead that sucker, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again, drop it into a bread pan, bake it at 350 for 35-40 minutes (oven temperatures may vary – or, simply follow the instructions on your bread-making machine) until the crust is golden brown, then remove to a cooling rack. It will still burn your hands to handle it, because you can’t wait for it to cool, so use a potholder to slice it. But, and this is important, turn the loaf on its side before slicing. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a mashed-down chunk of dough, instead of a nice clean slice – even if you do have one of Ron Popeil’s incredible knives. And then you have the perfect warm slice of healthy, homemade bread. No additives, no preservatives. Actually good for you. Then you slather it with as much butter (or, if you want to pretend to be healthy, use “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” but don’t leave that out of the fridge for more than 20 seconds, or it will revert to its natural form – whale ambergris) as it will hold – so much that it is actually dripping when lifted, and thus turning an all-natural slice of health food into the Shingle of Death.

So, don’t drive in the snow, especially on bridges, unless you want to chop years off your life by eating food you shouldn’t be consuming anyway.


* I must, in good conscience, reveal my sources for this vehicle selection. I Googled “ugliest classic car,” and the F-10 popped up at the top of the list. I think you might agree – http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/curbside-classic-the-ugliest-car-ever-1977-datsun-f-10/

In every country, the shape of the sign is the same. Octagon. It’s probably the only thing most people remember from geometry. “What’s an Octagon?” “A Chuck Norris movie?” True, but in this case, it’s the shape of a STOP sign.

It’s always red, with white letters (post-1954, anyway). In most cases, even though English is not the dominant language in a given country, EVERYONE knows what STOP means. Except for the idiots who are usually in front of me at the intersection.

Quoting from History of the Stop Sign:

Originating in Detroit, Michigan in 1915, the earliest stop sign had black letters on a white background and was somewhat smaller in size than the one today.  The smaller sizes of stop signs were initially most common, in that they did not require larger punch presses.

Due to confusion of drivers, the American Association of Highway Officials (AASHO) met in 1922 to standardize the stop sign.  Attempting to design a unique sign to prevent uncertainty, the AASHO devised a unique octagonal shape that would alert drivers to stop. In 1924 the stop sign was changed to black on yellow by the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety (NCSHS), which was the prevailing color until 1954.  They regulated the signs to be mounted two or three feet above the ground. Another group (the predecessor to the MUTCD) had similar, but not identical ideas. The 1935 MUTCD regulation defined that stop signs should be octagonal, but with red or black letters on a yellow background.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) stop sign was altered eight times between 1935 and 1971, generally regarding mounting height or reflectorization. However, the most significant change was the 1954 alteration to white on red color. The modern US stop sign, white on red, mounted 2.1 meters (7 ft) above ground, 30″ long with a 3/4″ white line around the edge, was passed into law in 1971 – although 24″ stop signs are also allowed.

English speaking and European Union stop signs use the word “STOP”. Of course, many non-English speaking countries prefer to use the word in their own language on the front of a stop sign. Most countries have adopted the red octagonal shape, like China, Canada, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, South Korea, and many others, but there are exceptions, like Japan, which uses a triangular sign. China’s old stop sign was triangular as well, but they too have adopted the octagonal form, simply displaying the Chinese word for stop (pronounced ting). This sign is almost identical to the one used in Taiwan. In Hong Kong, like many countries, English is situated on top of the other more common language.

In Canada, however, there are several different signs used. In Quebec, the French word for stop is written on face of the stop sign, while in Nunavut, they use the word in the Inuktitut language. “PARE”, a Spanish and Portuguese word for stop, is used in Brasil, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Colombia. In Mexico, however, “ALTO” is used.

Although stop signs are not used at every intersection, they are extremely important because they control traffic in dangerous areas. Stop signs require the driver to make a brief and temporary stop, quick glance, and then proceed carefully. This can possibly prevent an accident from occurring. As a result, it is imperative that the sign is comprehensible to everyone of any country, which is why many countries have adopted the format of the modern US stop sign, in terms of shape, size, and color.

Further – and this boggled my already-loosened brain – there is actually a “convention” for stop signs. The Geneva Convention covers war and stuff. Well…

The Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals [let’s pause in stunned amazement that there was actually a CONVENTION for this… ] proposed standard stop sign diameters of 0.6, 0.9 or 1.2 metres. UK and New Zealand stop signs are 750, 900 or 1200 mm, according to sign location and traffic speeds. In the United States, stop signs have a size of 75 cm across opposite flats of the red octagon, with a 20mm white border. The white uppercase letters forming the stop legend are 25 cm tall. Larger signs of 90 cm (36 in) with 30 cm (12 in) legend and 25 mm (⅞ in) border are used on multilane expressways. Regulatory provisions exist for extra-large 120 cm (48 in) signs with 40 cm (16 in) legend and 30 mm (1¼ in) border for use where sign visibility or reaction distance are limited, and the smallest permissible stop sign size for general usage is 60 cm (24 in) with a 20 cm (8 in) legend and 15 mm (⅝ in) border. The metric units specified in the US regulatory manuals are rounded approximations of English units, not exact conversions. Field, legend, and border are all retroreflective.

Damned Austrians…

So, now that we know what a STOP sign is supposed to look like, what are we legally bound to do when we see it?

Well, we are NOT supposed to perform a “California Stop.” According to the oft-quoted www.urbandictionary.com, the “California Stop” (AKA The California Rolling Stop) is:

The act of not completely stopping at a stop sign or a right hand turn, but rather ‘rolling’ through it by slowing down some.

What I really like about their definition is their “Would you please use it in a sentence?” turn:

“Nice California Stop, asshole”

If you would prefer a more specific definition, www.uslegal.com says:

A rolling stop is a term used in traffic law to refer to when a vehicle fails to come to a complete stop. A complete stop is when there is no forward momentum and the needle on the speedometer is at 0. In a rolling stop, the car wheels are still in motion and the car is moving at less than 5 m.p.h. Failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign is a traffic violation governed by state laws, which vary by state. The longer the stop, the more discernable it is to the naked eye, giving a motorist a better chance of avoiding a ticket.

So, while I would never advocate making a California Stop (I’m far too paranoid, fearing Johnny Law is parked immediately behind the STOP sign is his oh-so-slender law enforcement vehicle), I also do not advocate the “Negative California Stop” (NCS – my own term).

Logic would tell you that an NCS would be a non-rolling stop at a STOP sign (well, I suppose logic could also tell you that an NCS was the act of shifting your vehicle into reverse once you came to a STOP sign, but for now we’re going with my definition).

MY definition of an NCS is one where the way-previously-aforementioned idiot in front of me not only doesn’t roll through the STOP sign – he/she sits at said STOP sign for an idiotically-over-extended period of time.

How long SHOULD you sit at a STOP sign? We turn again to one of the many online resources where people ask such questions (presumably NOT while they are actually in their vehicle, sitting at said STOP sign – more on that in a moment).

Q: Is there a time limit of how many seconds I have to stop at the stop sign?

A: No.

“The law states you have to come to a complete stop, it doesn’t specify how long you have to remain stopped for,” Washintgon State Patrol spokesman Dan McDonald said. “After stopping you may proceed as long as there’s no crossing traffic and/or you have the right-of-way.”

State-to-state, the laws vary. In Georgia:

Except when directed to proceed by a police officer, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line or, if there is no stop line, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if there is no crosswalk, at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering it. After stopping, the driver shall yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when such driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways.

However, there is no stated minimum stopping time. Evidently, that’s the source of many traffic citations, as well as reasons drivers can get out of said citations. It’s all subjective. You can’t time it with a stopwatch. All it apparently requires is the previously-mentioned complete halt of forward momentum (i.e., your speedometer reads 0).

So, in my usual convoluted-and-much-hyphenated style, I finally come ‘round to the point of today’s lesson. YOU DON’T NEED TO SIT AT A STOP SIGN FOR 10 SECONDS OR MORE!!!

  1. You stop.
  2. You look in all directions.
  3. If it doesn’t appear someone else is going to barrel into you, you go.

If you can’t do all of the above within 2-3 seconds, you should return your Edsel to the garage from whence you departed, never to put foot to accelerator again. Use public transportation and save lives and prevent the cost of blood pressure medication from skyrocketing.

A contributing factor to this phenomenon, aside from sheer incompetence behind the wheel, is the smart phone. You have been told not to text while driving. Fine. Unfortunately, you assume that it’s OK to text while sitting at a red light (see a previous blog entry), or at today’s subject, a STOP sign.

You neglect, as always, to check the rearview mirror to see if your smartphone-finger-banging will impede anyone else’s progress, and so you thumb your way through a message to Snookums about how much last night meant to you, and that next time you will bring along smaller-denomination currency to leave on the dresser. You can barely spell as it is, let alone using your Twinkie-padded (or, not to leave out our female motorists, your ridiculously-long-Vietnamese-da Vinci-painted nails – you do know that no heterosexual male finds ludicrously-overgrown fingernails attractive, don’t you?) uncoordinated digits to spell out your vehicular Ode on a Grecian Urn.

We (using the royal “We” in this case) will repeat the earlier-blogged admonition for those who are not following along, as they should. While in your vehicle – not just while you’re driving – don’t use the cell phone for anything other than vocal conversations, and only then if you have a working Bluetooth headset that keeps you from shoulder-wedging said phone while steering, applying makeup, and chain smoking.

This should prevent you from causing unnecessarily-protracted delays at our friend, Mr STOP Sign.

Of course, there will still be those of you afraid to get out on the road – yet you do so anyway – and therefore have to creep to a stop from some 50 yards away from the impending sign. Then, even with no one at any of the opposing other signs, spend an inordinate amount of time looking off into the distance for those rogue vehicles that just might come barreling towards you at 3MPH. We’ve talked about you before, and there is little we can do about you, except hunt you down and take away your keys.

If I ran the zoo, that’s what we’d do…