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Thursday, July 10, 2003

It's an awful burden — kind of a curse, really — to know what everyone else should do, and then to have to sit back and watch them do something different. I'm not talking about life-altering decisions, like marriage and children. Lawdy, what do I know about those kinds of things? (Do you like that? "Lawdy," as in "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy.")

I know how to walk on the sidewalk without mowing anyone down, though. And I know how to drive. I can say without reservation and in all humility that I'm a great driver. I do everything right. Anyone could learn just by watching me, and believe me, I do my best to educate the motoring public. The lessons don't seem to be taking, though.

Here are a few tips, out of the kindness of my heart and my sense of obligation to the greater good. Number one: Stay out of my way.

Really, that's all you need to know to make me happy, but let me expand on the concept a bit. You don't have to stop half a block before a green light, just in case it turns red. You don't have to slow down a whole block ahead of where you're going to turn. If there's a turn lane, use it instead of hovering between lanes while traffic stacks up behind you.

All I had on my agenda today was a quick trip to the post office, then a dash into the bank to make a deposit. If I had so many complaints on that short a run, it might be partly my own fault. I'm a little impatient these days. There's just too much going on for you to expect me to wait while you decide where you're going. You're obviously in the wrong lane. Just move over, and we'll all be happy. (One of us will be, anyway.)

By the way, if there's no one coming from the other direction, you can probably go ahead and make that left turn. If you need a little nudge from behind, just give me a wave, because I'm already in position. Got the motive, got the means, waiting for the opportunity.

Part of being a good driver is keeping a cool head when everyone around you seems to have lost their minds. I'm not an overly aggressive driver, except in parking lots and at four-way stops where nobody wants to take the initiative. If you have the right-of-way, you'd best use it, or you're going to lose it. It only takes a whisper of a moment for the advantage to shift.

In other words, if you're not ready, I'll go. Someone has to make a decision, and I'm perfectly capable of taking over the job. Thanks, and goodbye.

There are written traffic laws, but there's also an unwritten social code that keeps things moving. That's how you know you live in a civilized society, when people can drive around without getting in each other's way. Most of the time it works, but one idiot (or one maniac) can ram a hole through the wall that separates us from monkeys in bumper cars. I'm doing my part, even with the added burden of having to educate everyone else.

10 July 03

A hummingbird surveys the garden.
(It's right there, in the middle of the picture!)

A friend and I went to the Rialto tonight to see a movie called Winged Migration. I drove, but that's not why I'm mentioning it. It's a beautifully photographed documentary about birds (one of my favorite subjects, although I don't personally know any ducks, geese or cranes). The movie is so visually stunning that I found myself gaping in wonder at how it was possible to get some of the shots.

It's an hour and a half of birds in their semiannual flight for survival over various landscapes all over the world. It gave me chills as I watched both individual birds working hard to get where they needed to be, and great flocks soaring and swirling as if they were a single entity. Amazing. (However, if you're looking for a movie where something blows up, this isn't the one for you. )

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One year ago: The Hottest Day
"It'll be quieter without the four children who left, but there's still plenty of chatter, with four little girls aged seven to thirteen. (I guess 'little' doesn't apply any more, but that's how I still think of them.)"

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