The Buffer Zone…

There was a time in the state of California when schools had enough money to teach more than just the very basics.  California schools used to teach young Californians how to drive.  It was part of the curriculum and because it was part of the curriculum everyone in California drove the same.  It wasn’t all good but it was all the same…

I drive a lot.  There’s something of a “new” trend going on among my fellow motorists.  People get in line at traffic lights and leave a “buffer”; often an entire car length.  I don’t know what they’re doing but as nearly as I can tell, they seem to want extra time to admire their own genitals.

I know, that sounds strange but seeing people waiting out lights while staring down into their own laps is too common to be ignored.  Did every one of them spill coffee in their laps at every light?  Is there some connection between neck problems and the need for extra space?  I KNOW they’re not looking at their phones…that’s illegal.  It must be the genital thing.

Honestly, I don’t know what they THINK they’re doing but I’m quite clear on what they’re actually doing: they’re causing traffic problems behind them.  See, people who work with traffic study traffic flows and traffic patterns.  Then they design roads intended to accommodate all that information they collected.  (That’s the theory, anyway.)  So they calculate that a given corner needs a left turn lane that holds, say, five cars because they know that much of the time, five cars will want to turn at that corner.  Then, because it’s what they do, they build the left turn lane with capacity for five cars.

Then someone decides they need extra space – a whole car length of extra space.  NOW that carefully designed turn lane is only holding four cars with a big gap between two of them.  But five cars still need to turn.  The result is that the fifth car is pushed back into another lane, blocking THAT lane.  Worse, we’ve got a LOT of genital admirers these days so it’s common to see more than one car with a large gap in front of them and their eyes fixed on their laps – pushing traffic back further and further behind them.

That little buffer zone is selfish and rude.  It’s taking space that doesn’t “belong” to you and you don’t need.  It’s causing problems nobody needs.  It’s downright anti-social.  Also, it might be an interesting observation on the unexpected impact of localized privatization: non-standard results.

I’ll tell you this: I was taught to pull up to the car in front of me as closely as I could and still see the bumper.  (I was also taught to admire my own genitals on my own time but that’s a different essay…)

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