Going My Way?

I used to think there were only two kinds of drivers: those who use their turn signals and those who don’t. I just learned there is another category.

The drivers who never signal bother me because they lack a common courtesy that we need, especially navigating Los Angeles. But then I wondered who those non-signalers might be: people who don’t know where they’re going. Perhaps they are numb from their tiring commute and sit behind the wheel with their brain on autopilot. Or maybe they are at a crossroads in some deeply personal way, unable to choose a direction. It’s possible they believe manners no longer matter, or maybe they weren’t brought up with manners. It might not even be their fault.

I’ve decided my heart goes out to them, and I now wish them well. I send silent messages such as, “I hope you find your way young man,” or “You’ll show me which way you’re turning as soon as you figure it out yourself.” I know it’s silly to cast these silent blessings onto perfect strangers, but it keeps me on the high road.

People who use their signals are the drivers I like to have around me; although politeness can go too far. Sometimes there’s a car cruising next to me, its signal blinking away, like the word “please” is being repeated, asking to cross over into “my” lane. I always slow down and wave them in because I learned a long time ago that I do not own the road. But sometimes they keep driving despite announcing their intent to merge, and this mindlessness makes me nervous. I don’t like guessing: Did they forget to stop the clicking after their previous merge? Are they just thinking about changing lanes in case they see something interesting? Endless blinking is as annoying as someone who doesn’t blink at all.

Yesterday I was with my man and he was behind the wheel. We were about to turn left and an approaching car turned right, right in front of us with no signal at all. My man blurted out sarcastically, “Thanks for the signal buddy!”

I laughed and said, “Hey. Half the time you don’t use your signal either!”

He replied with conviction, “That’s only if there are no other cars around.”

Suddenly a new category was born: those who signal only in the presence of other cars.

Is this a lack of integrity? My father taught me to always do the right thing, whether someone is watching or not. Maybe I’m taking this too far, stretching it over the steering wheel where my pinky can gently click the turn signal into action, but maybe I’m not. I just want to know where everyone else is going.

MSWD, been all of these in various sequences. I write about what I see, know and feel.

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11 comments on “Going My Way?

  1. Charna,
    You whimsically capture the essence of these everyday experiences. Thank you for exploring the depth of this subject, and for sharing the teachings of your father. I hope to find more of your work, soon!

  2. I have little experience driving in heavy traffic. I have driven in four lane stuff in Kansas City but changing lanes terrifies me. I would never try it without using signals. However, I have lots of experience driving in our small Iowa towns. Men alibi about not using their signal lights. I have heard, “Why bother. Everybody knows this is where I live so I’ll be turning here.” On the other hand I may overdue it. I have also heard, “Why are you using your signal, this is just a curve and everyone is going to the right because that’s the way the highway goes?” I loved the way you voiced your frustration with a touch of humor. Good job.

  3. Charna,

    This is a great story and I LOVE that man of yours!! His comment added a great deal of humor and I can relate to that feeling of entitlement. It’s like driving over the lines in a parking lot!!

  4. I think our fathers went to the same school. My dad felt it was very important to signal so cars would know where you were going. I try to always use mine, but like you have observed others who expect us to read their mind.

    Your husband’s comment is very common I think. People look in their mirror and if no one is around ( in their mind) they don’t use the signal. Funny how we humans adjust the rules to meet our needs.

    I am going to watch to see what my husband does! I think he uses his all the time, but to be honest, I am talking so much….who knows.

  5. Very well put Charna, you are the next Andy Rooney. I look forward to more everyday life observations as seen by you.

  6. Charna,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your subject of Going My Way but most importantly, you create a very interesting picture of driving situations which we can all relate to.

  7. Excellent, concise and exact description of drivers. So easily did I
    identify with the article. Thanks for the insight and wonderful writing.

  8. Very impressive. You have taken an almost subconscious action,
    and brought it out in the air for all of us to notice. Thankyou
    for your wonderful and astute perceptions.

  9. I love this vignette, Charna, and agree with the reader who thinks you’re the next Andy Rooney. Please continue to submit here and let us all know when you have your own column in a national newspaper. I’ll be your first fan! Thanks for sharing this.

  10. I loved this…it was so sensitive. The sad commute thing is such a bit part of our society and no one ever thinks about what it does to the driver. Great job.