Saturday, November 12, 2005

Roads Scholar

The theories of quantum physics are readily observable in daily life. I pondered this a couple of Saturdays ago on the I-5 Freeway, upon witnessing the aftermath of a brutal two-car collision in the opposing lanes. Of course, I had plenty of time to ponder, as traffic on my side had come to a near-halt in order to soak it all in.

Now, I've heard of an accident site "curtain" approach that is meant to put an end to this rubberneck revelry by removing the temptation altogether (censorship abounds).
An option I would propose would be to have a photographer dispatched to the scene who could later post photos to a website common to all surface streets and freeways.

This would be advertised on billboards with an easily remembered name like or, thereby alerting drivers that they needn't waste time with the visuals right then. Instead, they could move quickly past the accident scene, avoiding the temptation to regress to mouth-breathing, staring cow mode.

Later, in their homes or offices, where it's acceptable to do less than 75 mph, they could take all the time in the world to review the particulars ("Oh-my-God! I was there!"), while slowing no one.

There may be those spectators dissatisfied with mere photos because, for instance, they're intent on learning CPR second-hand. For these special cases we could provide video, or just drag them from their cars and beat them.

Back to the website: Collisions would be listed with easily spotted, light-hearted titles like:

HWY 5 at 10- Why we have turn signals.

405 at La Brea: Surprise!--there ARE other cars on the road--in LA!--at rush hour!

La Cienega at Beverly: Hope it was an important phone call...

Alright, back to the wreckage. Apparently, either in defiance of, or outright ignorance of the laws of physics (not to mention the State of California) a black Corvette convertible had unsuccessfully tried to occupy the same physical space as a Honda CRV.

The experiment might have worked, were it not--at the same time.
Clearly and unfortunately, the Corvette was in a particle rather than wave mode, that would likely mean a wave goodbye to demerit points and affordable insurance.

Anyone the age of six could have predicted this violent outcome, but unfortunately, one has to be age sixteen to drive--by which time all hope of common sense has vanished, as the school system intended.

In practice, this accident seemed to have been a sort of two-strikes-you're out rule, leading one to believe that either the Universe isn't as lenient as the prevailing judicial system, or Someone is getting tired of this shit. "Infinite Love? You'll get Zero Tolerance and like it!"

For example:

"You want to be in that lane? OK. You got it."
"You want to be in that lane, but where that car is already? Ain't gonna happen." (Strike 1)

"You want to be in that lane, but where that car is already, and you're gonna drive like a complete prick? As if I, the Lord thy God, was born yesterday? Get the fuck outta here!" (Strike 2) and....ScreechSlamTearCollideOverturnCartwheelExplodeCareenHaltShudder...fill in the blanks and the requisite forms at the E.R. --Thanks for coming out.

And they walked a related note (a redundant phrase--if everything is indeed everywhere, at every time)...

I witnessed an accident today that was so telegraphed, so textbook, so terribly unnecessary, it would bring a tear to a glass eye.

A landscaper with a loaded down compact truck was attempting to turn left into a bank parking lot across three lanes of stopped traffic. Well he made it--across two.

I actually had plenty of time to look over my shoulder for the obligatory driver barreling gleefully down the third lane, marvelling at his good fortune for being able to breeze past all those stopped cars.

"The twain shall meet," as they say. And unite they did, but not before a last SHHHEEEIIIIITTT!!! exclamation-point squealing of tires, blurted out in the last second of panic braking, and certain change of heart.

A car and truck wrecked, two stunned drivers glaring at each other, and traffic now blocked. Happy Thanksgiving.

I have seen this left turn stuff end in sorrow before. As a motorcyclist, I am constantly on the lookout for it, because it is known as the primary takeout for unsuspecting bikers.

Bikes aside, I myself dealt the demise of my parents' Chevette many years ago, with a failed left turn attempt out of a driveway. It was to be on to an otherwise quiet residential street, but--it was not to be.

As my leftward view was blocked by a parked van, my ill-fated approach was to inch out slowly with the confidence that, on such a narrow street, the eventual whole fender of Mom and Dad's car would surely cause someone to stop. Didn't work.

Inconveniently, another driver happened along whose equally ill-advised approach was to stand full weight on the gas pedal, with a thousand-yard stare that would do a Vietnam Vet proud. It was by no means the first time a female had regarded me as invisible, but this rejection was going to hurt.

Not unlike the above-mentioned accident, I literally had time to register her vacant stare, make peace with the baby Jesus, and utter, "Ooh!--Hey...NO--HEYYY!...DON'T--AAAAAWWWW....FFFFUUUUUCK!!!"

Some cherished memories from this incident include:

a) the police officer confiding in me his analysis of the other driver, choosing his words carefully--"She's a complete fuckin' idiot."

He then charged me with Failure to Yield. Thanks, buddy. Nice Protect and Serve there.

I was baffled by the charge, given that the front structure of the Chevette had yielded fully (to her charge). The yield strength of every metal and plastic in the vicinity had been exceeded.

b) I decided to fight it in court, where I hadn't counted on having to endure her psychotic glowering, and accusations that I had aggravated her back injury all over again. Admittedly, I felt a little bad about causing her harm, but she had broken a two-strikes rule: Combining wide-open throttle with wide-eyed staring. You don't get to do both. The cosmos strictly prohibits this and quickly puts you...back in your place, if you will. I was merely the facilitator--delivering the sentence (pun intended).

c) Having forgotten that the legal system has no interest in right or wrong, I'd brought in my photos of the demolished, heirloom Chevette, to prove the ridiculous speed that Farsighted Full-Throttle had gotten up to, in the space of a couple hundred feet.

I was humored briefly with this defense before the prosecutor shut me down.

"This means nothing--the defendant is not an engineer!"
With great savor I said, "As a matter of fact, I am."

I had now succeeded in irritating both prosecutor and judge.

Soon after pronouncing me guilty, the judge got advisory on my ass.

"Why didn't you just turn right, and go around the block instead?"
"What--so she could hit me from behind!?"

He gave me the I'm-warning-you look.
She gave me the you-are-an-asshole-and-now-everybody-knows-it look.

"Looks aren't everything, Robert," I could hear my mom say. What...?!

So many things I could've said sprang to mind--"Judge not--lest ye be judged," or "Years from now we'll all drink a quart and laugh at this," or "What are you looking at, Assface?"

I said with utmost conviction what most people would have said--nothing.
My parents' Chevette went to the scrapyard and all I got was this lousy traffic violation.

This brings me to the philosophy, or literally metaphysics, of the Left Turn (because we're beyond the physics of our earlier example, and well into nonsense).

Can you deny, with a straight face, the interconnectedness of Corvettes, Chevettes, and Vietnam Vets?!

What is it about someone Out in Left Field, Leftovers, Leftist Commies, or Left at the Altar? Why did Dad say someone was "swinging a little to the Left?" Or "smoking some of that Left-handed tobacco?" What possessed Tron(the party leader) from Fubar, the greatest epic in Canadian film-making history, to say of his wife in the new life, "Yeah, and I guess marrying her, that was a real Left turn there...?"

We may never know. But for God's sake, we can organize a 10k run to raise funds for research!

Accordingly Left to our own devices, with all due respect for the payment of dues, and in deference to those who can't make a difference, I would beg to differ and ask that you pull out your checkbook and make up the difference.

Enough. Back to the Left side of the brain we go. Much work to be done.


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