Friday, December 06, 2013

Bad Intersection - False Kindness

I come down Rte 13 into Goffstown, where it meets Rte 114 and a major road into Manchester, every evening during rush hour.  I have to make  two decisions for one of three routes in the last quarter-mile every night, and the decisions are largely irrevocable.

The best route if everything goes well can also go badly wrong if other drivers make bad or stupid decisions, and I can get stuck at that intersection (for those who know it, library on the left, Sully's on the right) for quite a while.  The main difficulty is people who are trying to turn left across traffic stopping and creating backups for quite some distance afterward.  They could make other choices at only minor inconvenience to themselves, and so I characterise them as selfish, or stupid, or unaware drivers.  The town fathers should make that particular left-hand turn illegal.  But those folks only annoy me somewhat.  Life is full of selfish, stupid, and unaware drivers, and they are a metaphor for what is wrong with humanity in general.  We all do the best we can, sighing deeply, occasionally becoming rude and impatient, but mostly just accepting our fate.

There is a second group which is attempting to enter that intersection, even though it is guaranteed to be difficult and most of them have other choices.  That group gets very impatient and cuts people off squealing into the intersection.  I am even more annoyed at them.  They made a bad decision and solve it by infringing on the rights of others.  Every night. 

There is another group which annoys me most of all. One group has full right-of-way, and could contribute greatly to the general flow by simply exercising that by slowly proceeding onto one of the two secondary routes out of town. Most of them do.  But a strong minority - perhaps 20% of them - come up to this intersection and decide to be rather obviously generous (flashing their lights, waving) to the two selfish groups, allowing them to cut into spots they would not have had.

When they do this, they back up the other lines entering the intersection quite badly.  The inconvenience to them is quite small.  The inconvenience to the others large.  The few narrow available spots to get in disappear, and the wait for the responsible drivers lengthens.  Those drivers reward irresponsible behavior. They are very generous with something that is not theirs to give.  They get to feel good about the seconds they gave up because they are such wonderful people.  They don't notice the minutes they forced others to give up.

I relate this to immigration questions.  Unemployment of urban black youth is 25-50%.  When we wink at illegals, patting ourselves on the back how openhearted we are, we are being cruel to people who are actually - gasp - citizens here.

I think of them as being liberals in general.  I have no data for this.  If I leapt out of my car and verbally accosted each of them for a year, I might find that they were mostly conservatives or unaligned.  My prejudice.  But that is what occurs to me in many liberal plans to give people money for college (which raised the price dramatically and made many young people dependent), or job training (which seldom fits jobs), or whatever.  I watch those drivers and think: False kindness.  Liberalism at work. Valuing mercy before justice instead of deriving from it, punishing good behavior to root for mere underdogs.


bs king said...

I think it all depends on where you place your scope of thinking. I would posit you are in a very small minority who ponders overall traffic flow through town. Most people are just thinking of themselves and a few select cars around them.

The vast majority of social issues/solutions talk is the same way. "I am looking at this piece, therefore all I have to solve is this piece". Self induced myopia.


Christopher B said...

Not recognizing that pursuit of their own interest is a benefit to more people than their grandstanding charity.

We had some bad weather around here this weekend which became a topic for conversation between services at church. One man related his observations on the traffic flow on a major interstate leaving town. It's normally bumper-to-bumper stop-n-go at rush hour but on this day every one was proceding at a steady pace, well spaced, no need for jamming on the brakes. Because doing that would have stopped you, hard, on the preceding car's bumper while the one following did the same to you.

We all agreed the lesson would be lost on Monday afternoon when the road was dry again.

The ones who annoy me most are the people who wave me through a left turn in front of them. You really aren't doing me a favor, bub, you're just worried that if you proceed forward I might turn into your car. Even though I stopped waiting for you to clear!

christine daniels said...

I can tell you a short cut off of high street, which probably short-circuits this whole discussion.

Tina wajenberg

christine daniels said...

I can tell you a short cut off of high street, which probably short-circuits this whole discussion.

Tina wajenberg

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, but it's got poor visibility, so I don't find it as safe. It does almost always have better entry onto 114, though.