Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Ninth Circle of Hell

I have long said that The Ninth Circle of Hell is reserved for drivers who don't signal. But I think yesterday, in the middle of my life, I might have discovered an even more depraved creature (or possibly evidence for a Tenth Circle of Hell): people who signal once it's already too late.

I was driving along 17th Street (on my way to Plan 9 to look for Nattevagten, in fact. I'm incredibly impatient - even when it costs money I don't have to spend.) in very light traffic, keeping a safe distance and all that, when I suddenly found myself barrelling down on the car in front of me - the driver of which, of course, had merely taken his foot off the gas. Pushing the brake would have given me warning he was slowing down. AS WOULD SIGNALING HAVE DONE. So I hit the brakes and it rapidly became clear that we were stopping. By this point I'm right up on his tail, so that I can't simply swerve around.

And THEN he signals left.

Fucker.

I just don't get the train of cognition here. Signaling isn't an invocation to the traffic gods to bless your turn. It's called "signaling," one would assume, because you're transmitting information of some kind. And a "transmission" of information implies that it flows from sender to receiver - in this case to other drivers. The content of the message is that you're going to do something that changes the dynamic of local traffic, so other drivers should take appropriate action.

All of this is rendered utterly and completely meaningless if you transmit the signal once you're already into your turn. It's traffic Pearl Harbor in fact: Japan sends a "late" cable:


Oh and by the way, those reports of an attack on your naval base at dawn this morning pertain to the warning attached below.

Regards,

Your Fearless Enemy


In fact, this kind of obnoxious behavior is ubiquitous in Indiana, especially on the roads. All the locals seems to think it's enormously hillarious to annoy you in some way when there's no way you can retaliate. So, for example, it frequently happens that you'll be walking along the street, and a car goes speeding past, and one of the passengers suddenly screams at the top of his lungs for no reason, interrupting your thoughts and causing you to turn. The ONE time this happened to me in North Carolina was Christmas Break of my first year here. I was out taking a walk at night, and a car of girls drove by shouting "Hey hottie!" I thought "these people have got to be from Indiana." Sure enough, the license plate on the car as it passed said they were...

My favorite example of this, though, has got to be the day I was walking down Third Street last summer - back from Swain. Being summer, there were few people on the streets - just me and this pair of gay guys ahead. Some guy driving by on a motorcycle revs his engine and pops a wheelie, then goes on his way. The guys ahead of me say something about there being lots of douchebags at IU and "Who does he think he's impressing?" And that was sort of the point for me too: who's impressed? There are no girls on the street. He's never going to see any of us again. It's just...weird.

I'd suggest they change the name from "The Hoosier State" to "The Douchebag State," but as it turns out, "Hoosier" is already 19th century slang for "douchebag."

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