Stellar Chariot

By Arun Neelakandan

Left Turn Only

road rage

When driving to work, I park my car in a designated car park building. It’s a multi-storey building, with a cork-screw ramp to take you between levels. As you exit the ramp going up, only left turns are legal. However, it is possible to turn right, and thus take a shortcut to the next ramp which takes you to the next level, though this is illegal.

In the year-and-a-half I have been driving to work, I have noticed many drivers ignore this rule and use the shortcut. Not only is this more dangerous as the likelihood of collision is greater, it is unfair, as those who take this shortcut are effectively jumping the queue.

This is compounded by the fact the car park fills up quickly, and the spots are either on the roof or the level below the roof. Thus, it is not altogether surprising so many tend to take these shortcuts.

I have never taken the shortcut. Even when I’m running late, I have never done so.

It’s frustrating to see this queue-jumping. After many a time of swallowing my irritation, I decided to confront such miscreants. Many moons ago, I once approached one such rascal (after he parked parked and left his car), but he just simply dismissed me.

It unfolded like so: I opened with question, to make sure he’s not new here. “Do you park here often?”. He nodded, with an air of indifference. Having premeditated on this response, I then half-blurted out something like: “Well, you’re not allowed to turn right. You’re supposed to go around. It’s dangerous and you’re skipping the queue and it’s not fair. You are not allowed to turn right.” and waited for a response. He simply turned his back towards me and busied himself with getting something out of his car (he’d just gotten out as I confronted him). I recall saying something further, echoing my initial sentiments. But I moved on. I didn’t resort to profanity, and I think I behaved civilly.

However, more often than not, they’re already gone before I have even parked myself. Even today (3rd Nov 2014), a middled-aged woman in a people mover (a Toyota Avensis), escaped before I could confront her.

Will most people continue to behave like this as long they can get away with it?

They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. — The Joker

How can we reduce the number of people who behave like this? I don’t think the mental kudos I give to the well-behaved drivers is going to cut the mustard. “You sir/madam, are a gentle(wo)man and scholar.”

This is really a generic question. That is, how do we get people to behave well in general? I think I’ll need to finish reading my copy of Freakonomics to help answer this.

All this does make me ponder the question: how often have I taken shortcuts or cheated a little? How many times have stopped my car in a ‘no stopping’ zone? How many times have I streamed an unauthorised YouTube video of a song? Should I feel bad about doing this? Should I punish myself?

no road rage here