By: Brad Manock
I often go for walks during the summer when the weather is nice. Occasionally I will run into a stalemate in terms of who goes first. I live in the middle of a college town in Wisconsin so there are seemingly equal numbers of; “arrogant assholes” and “overly-polite people.” In this article I will discuss some of the situations I have been in and how I try to avoid these awkward stalemates.
Four-Way Stop Signs
If being overly-polite was a sport, four-way stops would be the ideal location to play. I am talking about only the four-way stops that use stop signs instead of stop lights. Growing up I would often sit in the passenger seat while a family member would drive. Once they got to a four-way stop it seemed that the procedure would be to make waving motions at the other cars while they would make waving motions at you for you to go. At that point both cars would simultaneously step on the gas pedal and then immediately the break petal when they see the other car going. This would continue in cycles until one of the drivers got pissed off and just, knew that the other car would stop if they also went. There is a rule that cars that arrive first at the stop sign have right-of-way, but somehow every time I approach a stop sign another car also does at the exact same moment.
Pedestrian Vs Car Stalemates
During my college career I would usually walk to my in-person classes. I would often have to cross a busy road in order to get to the building which the classes took place. This particular area did not have a stop sign or a stop light so I would have to just judge the two streams of cars and just run across during a window of opportunity.
There was one occasion where I ran across the road, and someone waved at me, so I waved back. But then I realized that they were not waving at me, they were flipping me off. Apparently, the window of opportunity to cross the road that I felt comfortable with was not comfortable for one of the drivers.
Occasionally I would have one car stop in the middle of the road to wave me across. This was a nice thing to do, but only if there are no cars coming from the opposite direction. There was no median or half way point or anything, I had to go through two lanes of traffic going opposite ways in one shot. So this driver would stop to wave me across, and there would still be a solid stream of cars coming from the opposite direction. So I would look at the driver who stopped and then look at the stream of cars to give them the hint that; “I’m sorry but I can’t take advantage of your kindness right at this moment.” So this driver is probably thinking at this point “what the fuck, why isn’t this kid going, what an asshole.” Being kind and waving a pedestrian across simply does not work in a busy two-way road.
Pedestrians Walking in Front of Your Car
In driver’s education they teach you that “pedestrians always have right of way.” But there are some people who use this rule as a blank check to be an asshole to drivers on the road. It is very frustrating when you are driving and someone decides to walk in front of your car. Usually this person will not even look at you as they are crossing. It is perplexing when an individual does this because, you may have right of way, but I have a large piece of metal going at high speeds that could crush you. The laws of the road might favor the pedestrian but the laws of physics favor the vehicle in that situation.
This activity is far more common with groups of people walking together. There seems to be this synergy involved that projects a vibe like “nobody will run over ALL of us.” Usually these situations occur at night with bar crowds either going to or coming back from a night of drinking. When a group of bar-goers crosses in front of me, NONE of them ever look at me. They seem to be like, “cars don’t exist if I don’t look at them.” They use the same logic with cars as little kids use when they “hide” from things by closing their eyes.
What Did We Learn?
If you are a driver, do not be overly-polite. If you are a pedestrian, don’t be an asshole.