If the title of this article caught your eye, there’s a reason for that. I’ve lived in many different regions of the country, experienced multiple cultures, and met a bunch of just purely ignorant people. What follows is an examination of my “pet peeves.”
Let’s begin with something as simple as a driver’s license. In my experience, I’d swear that at least 80% of drivers got their licenses as the “prize” in a box of Cracker Jack. Every state requires their licensed drivers to pass a “test,” yet it seems the licensees ignore the laws the instant they are issued that little laminated card. I’ll address the regional issues first.
In the north, where I lived most of my life, everyone uses turn signals. Unfortunately, they use them in a maddening way. A typical “Main Street” is usually bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour, and there is a traffic light at every intersection. Everyone wants to get home as quickly as possible after a hard day’s work, so let me set the scene. You’re driving through the middle of town, on Main Street, which is two lanes in each direction. OMG! You need to turn left on Maple Street, there’s only one car sitting at the light in that lane, and it has no turn signal flashing. You could make a right turn at the same intersection, circle the block, and get a traffic light that would take you in your desired direction…but there are ten cars sitting in that lane. So, you take your chances, pull into the left lane, with only one car in front, and hope to make the light. Guess what happens? That one car in front of you in the left lane decides to hit his turn signal after the light turns green! You sit through three different traffic light changes before you can make your left turn…grrrr.
In the Midwest and south, no one uses turn signals at all. You have to frequently jam on your breaks as people unexpectedly make turns in front of you. This is perhaps the most dangerous situation of all, and explains why five southern states are ranked among the most dangerous roadways in the country. Another issue is when you are backing out of a parking space. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a fast food restaurant, a convenience store, or a supermarket lot. Up north, a driver will stop and let you back out. In the south and Midwest, they blow right behind you without a second thought. That falls into the category of just plain ignorant. They didn’t see your back-up lights?
An issue that falls into the areas of regional and just plain ignorant is shopping carts. Since moving to the south, I have never seen so many lazy people who just leave their shopping carts wherever their cars are parked. The “cart drop” can be five feet away. Think they’ll put their carts away? No way. I was recently at a supermarket and counted 14 carts left in the lot, blocking an equal number of parking spots for other shoppers. Up north we had more respect for other people. We had harsh winters and high winds. Anyone who has lived there has seen a shopping cart go sailing across the lot at 30 mph and smash into a brand new car. We practiced The Golden Rule.
Now for the just plain ignorant. Up north, most states issue Handicap license plates, which have a cost and a medical diagnosis attached. In the south, it seems they hand out Handicap “placards” like M&M’s on Halloween night. While registering my car after moving down here, and standing in line, it seemed that anyone who walked in with a cane got a placard. In ten months down here, I’ve seen hundreds of placards, and maybe two actual handicap plates. Up north, you only get a placard if your plate is still valid, and then you have to apply and pay for a plate when your registration next comes due. Have you seen this one? A person uses the “powered cart” to shop, and drives it into the lot to the car. Then he/she spryly hops off, loads the groceries, leaves the powered cart in the lot, and drives away. How about the really handicapped person who needs it?
That brings me to the next purely ignorant practice. Not long ago, at a supermarket, a minivan came zipping into the Handicap parking space next to me. Sure, it had a “placard” hanging from the mirror, but who jumps out? Five hale and hearty teenagers! They dashed into the store like they were trying out for the high school track team! It was obvious that they had borrowed mommy’s or daddy’s van, but they felt it was their “right” to take a handicap parking space from someone who truly needed it, just because they had the placard.
When will people in the south and Midwest learn a bit of courtesy and respect for others? This stuff just doesn’t happen up north. And, while the local cops are paying their salaries by issuing 30 tickets a day for exceeding the 20 mph speed limits, why not enforce handicap parking laws, or stopping cars for not turning on the headlights when it’s raining?
No, that doesn’t pay the bills. I went through a checkpoint at 3:00 p.m. on Veteran’s Day [I never served, by the way, and I emphasize the word “serve”]. I guess the police thought they might catch a few vets who were partying a bit too hearty that day. Yeah, let’s catch those guys who fought for our country. Well, if they want to enforce the law, enforce all the laws!