22 January 2009

A simple, ordinary exchange

There is a T intersection on my way to work, with a stop sign for the people coming out of the stem of the T. 90% of people on the main road turn right, into the stem. Therefore, people turning left out of the stem tend to assume that everyone coming down the road will be turning right; some of them are so sure of this that they don't bother to stop at their stop sign.

I go straight. I have no stop sign. In addition to slowing down and checking for cars as I approach (and occasionally wishing that there was a signal for "going straight"), I also routinely ping the minds of the other drivers.

This tells me several things:
a) their approximate emotional state;
b) their intentions for the intersection - which basically boil down to "stop and wait" or "go";
c) their receptiveness to outside messages.

Some of them will go through no matter who else is on the road, and they broadcast that at high volume (read: they're assholes). Some of them are completely oblivious to everything around them because they're driving on autopilot, and therefore won't notice any outside messages from the ether any more than they'll notice anything else, and they'll also go through no matter who else is on the road.

Most of them are fairly calm and alert, however. I go over to their minds and suggest that they wait. Once I've passed, I thank them for waiting, both as a message and with a puff of "feeling of goodwill" (assuming that I'm in a reasonably good mood myself, at least).

People at work (that is, part of the 10% of people who go straight) talk about how common it is to have accidents at that intersection. I've not had any problems.


mattw said...

I think it's interesting how you describe that as pinging someone, as if you're checking a network. Have you ever encountered someone at the intersection that would ping you back?

As a completely unrelated traffic story, today I was driving behind a pick up truck for a few miles that had the tailgate down and two boxes that were very close to the edge and looked like they could have fallen out at any moment. I wanted to pull up next to him at an intersection and let him know, but never got the opportunity. I hope he didn't hurt anyone with his carelessness.

MWT said...

Heh, it's more likely that the driver spent the rest of his day cursing about losing his stuff. ;) I've seen all kinds of roadside debris in the past, including furniture.

Have you ever encountered someone at the intersection that would ping you back?

That's actually a really complicated question. The short answer is "no" but only for the literal question. I'll have to write a blog post with a better answer. ;)