Renaissance Column

JANUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 1



CRIS COHEN

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CRIS COHEN is a staff humor columnist for Renaissance Magazine. His work is also published weekly in three California newspapers and four online humor magazines.


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A Game of Inches and Idiots

CRIS COHEN

I've never really understood people who, while waiting at a stop light, keep inching forward even when they know the light is nowhere near changing. Personally I get nervous just watching them because I'm convinced they're going to move a little too far forward and have their entire front end torn off by a passing logging truck.

I mean, I can understand the unintended lurch. Everyone does that. That's when you think it's your turn so you start to go, but then quickly realize that it's not your turn and hit the brakes. Of course by then you've given some pedestrian a heart attack. Some poor guy has nearly experienced cardiac arrest because for a split second he thought he was going to be buried tattooed with your tread marks. Thus if he had an open casket ceremony, his funeral would look like a really disturbing Dunlap advertisement: "Our steel-belted radials give you the confidence to drive over any surface!"

But I'm not talking about the unintended lurch. I'm referring to the driver who keeps inching forward like he's intermittently losing control over his right leg. There was a guy doing this the other day. He was driving a pick-up truck which featured way too many bumper stickers on it. You know, one or two is cute, but anything greater than thirty-seven is a bit much. I mean, when you can no longer see the truck, it's time to think about cutting back.

When you have that many stickers, no one reads them. If a car has three bumper stickers, you'll take a quick glance. But when there's so much literature on the tail gate that there's a table of contents and an index for cross-referencing purposes, no one is going to even bother. Personally, I'm not ready for that kind of a commitment at a traffic light. I just met the guy and suddenly he wants me to devote a serious portion of my day to the backside of his vehicle. As it is, I would need to follow him home or at least for the next seventy traffic lights just to finish reading everything. And nowadays when your behavior has any hint of stalking to it, there's a good chance a firearm might come into play. Therefore it's really not worth it.

So the pick-up guy, who wants everyone else to devote several hours to reading his bumper stickers alone, can't wait thirty seconds for the light to change. He keeps inching forward closer and closer to fast moving traffic. It's as if he's trying to kill himself really slowly. After a while you just want to step on the gas and shove him into the intersection. I mean, if he wants to go so badly, then let him risk crossing the avenue of death. If not, then he should just put his foot on the brake and leave it there. In fact, if you've been inching forward continuously for the entire time you've been at a stop light, then I think the police should be allowed to shoot out your tires.

Sure, that's kind of an extreme measure, but I think people like the pick-up guy really need to learn patience. I learned to drive in Los Angeles, where traffic is so bad that it's not uncommon for people to put on their parking brakes in the fast lane. In that city you don't even get on the highway unless you've packed food, water and enough changes of clothing to get you through the next seven holidays. You learn patience in that town. Not that there aren't impatient people there too, but they're easy to spot. Eventually, in the city of angels, an impatient driver does something stupid and ends up running down the center divider in a desperate attempt to get away from the flaming wreckage that was once his vehicle.

But really the stupidest thing about the habit of inching is that it doesn't get you anywhere. If you're inching at a stop light at the intersection of Main and Third Streets, and your intended destination is, say, Canada, can you really say that you're making good time? I mean, at that point you're moving about as fast as someone who's bedridden. You might as well be drag racing against large pieces of pine furniture. You're not going anywhere. But if it makes you feel better, then keep inching away. Just look out for that passing logging truck.

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