June 25, 2014


Earl and I are sitting at a local pastry shop doing the thing one usually does at a Starbucks, except we are not drinking coffee and we don’t have a Starbucks within 45 miles of our home. Hence, we are sitting a locally owned establishment that has more pastries available than Panera. They also have a few more bugs in the display cases here but not to worry, the staff is so relaxed that they sip on their mocha-cocha-cha-cha-la-la whilst they’re taking your order. All that’s missing is a handlebar mustache.

As we were driving here, sitting at the randomly placed traffic signals, I noticed that two of our six of the drivers in front of me (at the various locations) were hesitant to make that all-too-scary Right On Red. Right On Red is a perfectly valid, permissible and legal turn to make in New York State, outside of the five boroughs of the Big Apple. Earl and I occasionally have a discussion about my observations of Right On Red hesitance; he reminds me that making that Right On Red turn is not mandatory, it’s completely up to the driver. I counter that Right On Red works no differently than a stop sign, and sitting at a red light, waiting to turn right for no other reason other than waiting for the light to turn green, is like sitting at a stop sign and waiting for it to dance.

Several years ago I overheard a co-worker telling another co-worker that she wasn’t going to let her daughter (who was learning to drive) make that all-too-scary Right On Red turn until she had her license. I had a silent yet demonstrative fit about this because this is counterintiutive to the learning process; when one is learning, one is building habits and confidence, and being essentially trained that Right On Red is something special and out-of-the-ordinary does neither to inspire confidence nor build good habits. It’s cowardice based on a perceived complication revolving around Right On Red and how scary it is.

A local community was recently Up In Arms about the fact that the Department of Transportation was looking to replace a traffic signal with a Roundabout. People came out in droves to protest the Roundabout, with the prevailing argument being that Roundabouts are scary and unfit for vehicle consumption. Someone should let the fine Ministries of Transportation throughout Europe know this, because European drivers seem to be able to navigate a Roundabout just fine and they even occasionally have to do it in the opposite direction of travel.

It really is a pity because as I become more proficient as a pilot, where you basically do everything as safely and as consistently as possible, I am finding that I have less and less tolerance toward the common motorist in the United States.

Maybe I need to become a driver’s license examiner or something.