This post is dedicated to THE Jeff Glauser.
I witnessed something amazing today, and I’ll do my best to describe what happened in hopes that you find it equally amazing. The lengths that we humans go in order to save face are incredible and fascinating.
So there I was…
…sitting at the stoplight on the south end of the Shops at South Town in Sandy, Utah. You know the light, right? By Starbucks and headed toward Costco.
It’s a crisp winter day with the sun shining. Some snow had fallen earlier in the morning leaving puddles in the road that reflect sunlight into your eyes, forcing you to squint through the brightness, constantly debating with yourself over whether the effort to reach down, grab your sunglasses, and put them on is worth it when you know they will be slightly smudged and you’ll need to wipe them on your shirt but never REALLY get them to the point where you aren’t convinced you may have astigmatism or glaucoma or something because it’s still blurry. Plus, you know that as soon as you go in for the second attempt at wiping them off that the light will turn green and you’ll hesitate for a half second causing the line of cars behind you to lay on their horns and remind you how horrible a person you are for holding up the world. So, you just squint and deal with the retina-burning sunlight.
You know… just your typical day.
I’m on my way to lunch to meet with a good friend, and I’m a bit anxious because the light is taking what feels like forever. It’s 11:58 and we agreed on lunch at noon. I’m still at least 3 minutes away and I don’t want him to think less of me for being a couple minutes late. Not that he’s that kind of person, he’s literally the nicest, least judgmental person I know, I’m just saying I don’t want to be late so if this light could move things along, that would be appreciated.
Anyway, I’m planning on going straight through this light and, to my right, is a big red truck. Now, this big truck is turning right and, as we all know, Utah drivers believe you can turn right at a red light as long as you have come to a rolling stop and traffic is such that you don’t cause an accident coupled with your or someone else’s death, yet you’d somehow still be able to find a way to blame it on oncoming traffic. Utah… amiright?
Come to think of it, most of us in Utah figure a red light is just a green light if we’re turning right. Stopping is optional.
Well, not to big truck guy. He is fully stopped at this light, following laws and waiting patiently.
We also know that if the traffic going ahead of you from your right to the left has a left-hand turn light blazing, you are good to go ahead and turn right as long as that left hand turn traffic isn’t pulling a U-turn.
Are you still with me here? Writing about traffic is fun.
Now, on the sidewalk next to big truck is one of those people holding a sign asking for help. Spare change, dollar bills, a job, etc. In our story, they are asking for change. Well, big truck guy is trying his hardest to avoid eye contact with this man with a sign and is fully enveloped in whatever is playing on his phone and whether or not his left-side mirror is positioned correctly.
It is at this moment that the left hand turn signal goes green for the other direction of traffic, opening a window for big truck guy to now turn right as oncoming, perpendicular traffic coming from his left is stopped to allow for the left hand turn signal traffic.
Who knew describing traffic patterns was so hard?!
Here are some pictures.
Now, the impatient driver behind big truck notices that big truck should be moving and turning right as there is no traffic to hinder his turn, but for some reason, the big truck isn’t. So, impatient driver gives a little courtesy honk.
By the way, the man with the sign is past the big truck and is now side by side with impatient driver’s front bumper.
Big truck guy doesn’t hear or notice the courtesy honk and continues to hold his position (staring at his phone), so impatient driver gives a longer, more aggressive, double honk: honk hooooonk.
I have a view over to big truck driver’s window where he looks up from his phone, into the rear view mirror, forward to the red light, and displays a combination of bewilderment and frustration on his face as the light is CLEARLY still red (like his truck).
In what takes a microsecond, big truck driver realizes his egregious error that has cost the world 3 seconds of its time and left the impatient driver behind him questioning big truck driver’s humanity, but at this point the turn signal has ended and oncoming traffic resumes, making it unwise for him to turn right at this point unless he wants a hefty insurance claim and bill (not to mention protecting his pretty truck).
What is the big truck driver to do? He clearly made a boo boo and tiny driving errors like these are something that no one should make, especially not a manly man driving a big truck… You know what they say about those guys…
So, he digs in his car for a second, rolls down his back, passenger-side window, and calls the man with the sign back over to him. Big truck guy drops a few coins into the man’s cup and poof, no more egg on his face.
Phew, crises averted! Big truck guy has saved face.
Well wait just one minute my loyal reader, what about the impatient driver? Now he looks like a real tool for honking at and trying to prevent the charitable transaction between a kind, thoughtful, big truck driver and a man who needs help.
I shift my attention over to the impatient honker…
… sorry, when I skimmed that last line, a word looked like a different word and I had to re-read it to make sure I wasn’t getting inappropriate… Let me rephrase…
When my attention goes to the impatient driver, I realize that he couldn’t see that big truck driver was distracted on his phone, although he assumed it was the case, and now he sees that big truck driver’s lack of situational awareness is actually due to big truck driver’s charitable nature and Christmas spirit. I mean, he just gave the beggar some money despite being the target of honking and future protesters flipping his truck.
I imagine that the impatient driver thinks to himself, “Wow, I was wrong and completely out of line. Now I look like a real jerk to that handsome man in that little Hyundai Accent staring at all of us, watching what really happened.”
Then, he seemingly repents to his higher power, reaches around in his car, and slips a couple coins out his window into the beggar’s cup!
Isn’t this amazing?!
I’ve been wondering if the beggar saw everything go down the same way I did. And if so, I wonder how much more he could earn each day if he could somehow recreate this scene over and over again in a predictable way.
Could he somehow distract the front, right-turning driver to miss his or her initial turn opportunity and cause a line of angry tailgaters (not the football kind) to honk honk at the first position vehicle. Then, collect a copious bounty from people by helping all these well-meaning people save face for missing turn opportunities and honking at the charitable cars in front of them. Does anyone else see a Monty Python skit happening around this? Do they still do skits?
I don’t know if I have any deep, philosophical wisdom to share on this post. Maybe it’s that we humans hate to feel embarrassed about minor mistakes. Maybe we don’t have to be. We all make them and, in our attempt to cover them up, we could be making other people feel insecure about their own minor mistakes, causing a chain reaction that could end up as a lunch-time conversation and blog post.
There you have it… #deepthoughts
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