Tue, 11/29/2016 at 11:08 PM Self-Centered and Devoid of Thought

We have major problems facing our culture today. I'm not talking about Trump, though in my opinion he is a prime example of both qualities mentioned in the title. I'm not talking about problems with pollution, energy or human rights, though those are all problems that certainly need addressing. I am talking about a complete willingness of so many individuals to live their everyday lives completely self-centered and devoid of thought. 

Alright, maybe that is a blanket statement, maybe it is attempting for the sensational impact. Self-centered? Surely you can't mean me! Devoid of thought? What does dev- now wait one moment, I think on a regular basis! Sure, maybe I'm not talking about you. Let me give a few examples and see if you have noticed these behaviors or maybe are guilty of a few from time to time. 

Although public transportation is a great option for many people, there are still a large number who rely on cars to get them to and from work every day. If you live in or near a city, chances are that you will hit traffic around that dreaded time, rush hour. It's not so bad though, if you play your cards right. A few smart lane changes and using the lane merges to your advantage and you can get by a lot of the traffic and be home quickly, nothing wrong with that, is there? Well, if done right, not really. However, many drivers change lanes or speed up merging lanes with only one thought in their mind. Getting where they want to go. Aggressive lane changes are one of those behavior that can cause traffic to temporarily slow down in that location. With enough traffic volume that temporary slowdown may impact someone passing that spot much later. Enough of these lane changes will bring traffic to a stop. If anything, misusing merge lanes is even worse. Instead of attempting to match speed with neighboring traffic cars will speed down the lane to pass as many of the suckers as they can. It's a separate lane, surely this is okay. Merges are supposed to work in such a way that the merging lane matches speed with destination lane before slipping over. Speeding to the end of the merge lane causes traffic to back up there and slow down the destination lane as the two lanes of traffic are now being forced together in one miserable spot. Hasty lane changes may help some of those in the destination lane move elsewhere, but not without consequence to other traffic. 

It is now almost dinner time, and you really must stop at the grocery store before going home. You are scanning the parking lot for the closets spot the door when you spot one! Quickly you try to slip your vehicle into the stop while congratulating yourself on your parking prowess, only to stop short. Swearing to yourself you back out of the spot and settle for another spot 3 spots further away. As you get out of your car you glare at the spot that was almost yours except, unfortunately, someone left a shopping cart right in the middle of it. Reaching the store you take a cart and go about your shopping. Exiting the store behind your cart you cross the parking lot and load your groceries into your car. All your groceries are safely tucked away, but now you're stuck with this empty metal thing that's just in the way. The store is much too far away, and the cart return is almost as far. Well, it wouldn't be the first cart left in the parking lot so you push it to the corner of four spots and head for home. So what's wrong with that? This behavior is all too common, let's call it monkey see, monkey do. Just because we have seen it or done it ourselves previously a person may feel justified in doing it. Although it might bother us when the perfect spot is taken by an abandoned cart, some will still partake in this behavior. 

Done with your shopping, you navigate the local roads to get to your home. You're ready to kick back and relax. You pull up to each traffic light but make sure to stop where you can still see the light when it changes. Pulling into the left turn only lane you pull up until you are even with the other traffic and stop. As the light changes you go ahead and make your left turn. Oncoming traffic barely has to slow down before you get out of the way. Drivers may think that rules of the road are just for getting a license, but do not think that disregarding them is actually causing risk for others. Most traffic lights have thick white lines indicating where to stop, however, many motorists ignore the lines or treat them as merely a suggestion. I promise you, the department of transportation did not look at the road and say, "Hey, Jim, I think this road would look really nice with a white line right about here." No, someone took the time to look up the laws and codes and determined where it would be safe for traffic to stop. This is especially true in some turning situations. Often turning lanes are expected to stop further back than continuing traffic to allow for other vehicles to safely execute their turns. Finally, unless signaled, continuing traffic generally has the right-of-way over a turning vehicle. Ignoring proper right-of-way protocol can be dangerous for all parties. The lead driver may not expect you to turn and not be able to stop in time when you turn in front, the car behind them may not be able to see your maneuver and drive into the lead car when they are forced to stop. 

Reading this piece you might be convinced that I have some form of obsessive compulsive disorder, and you might be right. However, as these behaviors become the new normal I can only reflect sadly how much better things could be if more people took a second to think before committing careless acts that placed their own desires above those of the people around them. 

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