Then, finally, just before it was our turn, everything went sideways. Right on cue. The car to our right that was supposed to go next just sat there, not going and stuff.
All motion stopped. Suddenly we were engulfed in a dead calm. It was surreal. Somewhere a bald eagle screeched. I heard the shake of a rattlesnake’s tail. A chicken clucked. A fly buzzed. A tumbleweed drifted through the intersection.
All heads turned and everyone stared at the idiot. What the hell was going on we collectively wondered.
Then, with a start, the car leaped forward. Like my dad used to say, “Put it in ‘L’ for Lunge.” In a grand elegant arc the car made its left turn and aimed right at me. “Oh my God,” I whispered breathlessly into my crash helmet. “One bogey passing on the left.”
And then I saw it. There, behind the wheel, a woman was driving with one hand, had an abominable phone pressed against her face, and was gesturing wildly with the other.
She was talking on a phone!
My brain quickly calculated the meaning. Why, that’s supposed to be illegal now! This criminal had just ruined the four-way stop dream of perfection for all of us. Veins popped out on my forehead in a full relief map in the shape of Florida. My hands gestured, too, and with every force of my being, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “We’re trying to live in a society here!”
I think it was right around then that I had my epiphany. I’m willing to share it with you now. Obeying the law is for suckers.
As a favor I was picking up a friend at the airport. One of the perks of being in the big city is that I can do this for friends and take care of their cars while they are gone and offer free food and lodging. It’s all part of the service.
The airport provided four lanes for arriving travelers. The two left lanes were designated for thru traffic. The signs made no bones about it. “Absolutely” no stopping at “any time.” The two lanes on the right were designated for quick stops for the purpose of loading only.
Make sense. Such simple rules that will ensure the smooth flow for everyone involved.
One problem. Everyone did anything they wanted. Period. A hedonistic heroin-induced orgy would have been less anarchistic. Everyone was stopping in the right lanes. Everyone was stopping in the left lanes. Might as well since all the cars ahead were stopped, too.
It was a total systemic failure and collapse of order. You know those little laps you do while waiting for your pickup to appear? They took about 35 minutes each.
If only a few people obeyed the law, a nod towards efficiency gains of the basic underlying rules, things might have moved along. But no one was willing to be that schmuck.
I was thinking about stuff like this later when I took my wife to the movies. Before you get to the theater there’s a street that you have to cross. An intersection has been provided for your crossing convenience. And, in this intersection, is a signaling device that toggles between two messages: Walk and Don’t Walk.
Call me a sap, but I don’t give a flying fuck of a damn what the shitheads around me are doing. When I stand on a curb and see Don’t Walk that means I don’t go. Even when the throngs of humanity in every direction are pouring across that intersection like scarab beetles in The Mummy movie. My body will physically twitch but I fight the urge and remain still.
I’ll go when the damn thing says walk. I don’t care what the idiots are doing. It has always been a line in the sand for me.
At the movie theater, though, this presents a little problem. You see, all the people that ignore the Don’t Walk sign get there first. They are in the line to buy their tickets. That means, but the time I legally arrive, I’m the only one who pays any form of penalty. I’m talking about, of course, being the last motherfucker in that line.
After you, assholes.
Based on this I’ve been forced to revise my worldview. It’s every walker for themselves now. If there are no cars, I’m going. I don’t give a damn what the signal says. I refuse to be last behind the criminals. Obeying the law is for suckers.
Thanks for beating the remaining bit of good out of me, society. Well played.