Going home from work the other day, I had one of those occasional four-way stop encounters. I got there at approximately the same time as another car. We both stopped, started again then we both stopped quickly a second time, indecisiveness on both parts over who got there first.
The other driver roared off with quite a bit of flailing arms and obvious exhortations on the futility of life voiced inside his car – though no real obscene gestures.
I am not above some flailing arms myself when a road situation dictates, though my temper tends to rise mainly when someone is threatening my life with idiotic driving – such as passing anywhere on Cove Road.
What struck me at the four-way stop was the incredible display of anger resulted from a little miscommunication, costing neither of us more than a few seconds of our day.
Some people lose their tempers over minor things and the other person may have been having a bad day already. But to put it in perspective, the furor resulted over the loss of less than 10 seconds out of a 24-hour day all because the cosmic forces of the universe put two drivers at a four-way stop at the same exact time – no maliciousness, nor premeditated act, nor anyone out to get anyone.
And the effects of this coincidence are as ephemeral as you can get. No harm and very little time wasted. The seconds lost to both us combined would only equal:
• the time it takes to do a good tooth brushing rather than a rush job.
• slightly longer than it takes Facebook to load on a smart phone.
• Much less time than it takes to eat three French fries.
Incidents of road rage and other rages are certainly nothing new and definitely not unique and this wasn’t even a bad case – recall the shooting at RaceTrac last month.
Are we really in this much of a rush? A Pew Research Poll found that for a quarter of Americans the answer is yes. Twenty-three percent of all adults in this country indicated they “always” feel rushed in a recent survey.
For the always rushed crowd, my suggestion is to eat nothing but protein bars until you get caught up, saving an untold amount of time cooking and washing dishes and if you buy the bars in bulk, you won’t be tempted to berate a high school student for holding you up while they get your burger.
You might also consider some alternative activities to help you slow down. Any baseball fan will gladly while away the minutes waiting on the pitcher. Is that wasted time or an opportunity to relax? And hunters and fisherman know that on most days, there is little action, but outdoorsmen still find their hobby enjoyable.
Back to the four-way: in the U.S. at an all-way stops, right of way is determined by who got there first. Simple, but as we all know, sometimes cars pull up at the same time. Then, any astute driver knows right of way goes to the car on the right.
But, heck, that takes a little too much figuring. I like South Africa’s system better, when cars arrive at the same time, drivers are expected to make eye contact and use hand gestures (preferably nice ones) to determine who goes first, which a lot of people already do here. Arrive at the same time, you or the other guy waves to indicate who should go. Seems not only more efficient but more friendly as well.