It happened again yesterday. In fact, it happens to me at least three times a day! The number of drivers who do NOT know the difference between a “no turn on red ARROW” sign and a “no turn on red LIGHT” sign seems to increase exponentially as the holidays approach each year. I’ve written about this stuff before; but, after the reaction I encountered yesterday, it bears repeating.
I was stopped at a red light behind another vehicle. It’s a small intersection that is far from congested. The sign next to the traffic signal reads, “No turn on red arrow.” Actually, it reads “No turn on red—->.” And, herein is the root of the confusion.
In this country, at least, we permit people to obtain drivers’ licenses even if they can’t read. As compensation for illiteracy, we use symbols on our traffic signals at most intersections.
But, we also permit the literate but clueless to drive, as well. These are the folks who can read but have no idea what those symbols MEAN. And, since America boasts of a 99.9% literacy rate, it’s reasonable to assume that the latter are causing all the problems.
Anyway, at this particular intersection, I’ll usually wait about 20-seconds for the lead car to make the right turn. If it fails to happen, I simply go around on the left, check for oncoming traffic, and just go on my way. It rarely pays to tap the horn because the literate but clueless merely point to the sign and remain stopped.
As soon as I did this yesterday, the driver I passed gunned his engine and took off after me. He pulled alongside of me blowing his horn. I rolled my window down and looked at him. He bellowed, “NO TURN ON RED, ASSHOLE,” flipped me the finger, and sped on ranting.
CAUTION, I’m getting a vulgarity alert for using “asshole” instead of “a-hole” or some other equally stupid—but politically correct—symbolic substitute. Tough! Get over it. Everyone, from saints to abject sinners, uses the term regularly.
We all know that it is a euphemistic reference to the opening of our anal canals. And, given all the crap—no pun intended—that goes on in that region, it’s no surprise that we use it in reference to people we find… you know, “disagreeable.”
Anyway, seeing how vividly upset my actions made him, I immediately swelled with pride at the thought that I may have ruined his entire day! And, it got me to thinking.
Whenever we use the term “asshole” to refer to human behavior rather than as a part of our anatomy, it becomes relative. Perhaps some folks may wish to sit down for this, but EACH of us is an “ASSHOLE” to some others, NO exceptions. Even the late, saintly Mother Teresa was an “asshole” in some minds.
However, “assholes” come in two varieties: competent and incompetent. Competent “assholes” KNOW that they’re “assholes;” incompetent “assholes” don’t. Competent “assholes” are PROACTIVE; incompetent “assholes” are REACTIVE.
For example, in the incident above at the traffic light, I knew what the sign meant. I also knew that it was safe for me to go around and make my turn. And, yes, I KNEW I was an “asshole” for doing it. I apparently ruined the other driver’s day. I was proactive. I was the COMPETENT asshole.
The other driver was the incompetent one. He had no clue, though. He REACTED to my PROACTION. At some point, the way he was raving on as he sped ahead of me, it would not have surprised me to learn that he had a stroke.
Personally, when people refer to me as an “asshole,” I consider it a title of honor. ALL competent “assholes” should as well. It takes tons of effort and continued dedication to be a competent “asshole.”
Competent, self-assured assholes are RARELY stupid. Incompetent assholes are ALWAYS stupid. Competent assholes are secure in their personalities. Their confidence is unwavering. And, competent “assholes” are forever grateful for the seemingly inexhaustible supply of incompetent “assholes” for the opportunity they provide the competents to show their stuff.
Competent “assholes” tend to be cerebral in nature, easily capable of eliciting highly emotional responses, complete with visceral obscene gestures and popping cranial blood vessels. Their mission is the status-quo of keeping the incompetents in a state of perpetual REACTION.
Remember, as I said earlier, all of us are assholes to someone. So, it isn’t a question of whether or not you are one, too. The fact is that you ARE one. The question is to WHICH group you belong.
The next time you are driving down I-95 at the posted speed limit—or at least a speed not hindering the flow of traffic—and some jerk is riding your rear bumper, don’t suddenly tap your brake pedal or flip the bird. Just stay cool and keep going.
As the other driver goes by ranting and raving while giving YOU the finger, just smile. Be proud of yourself. Little ole’ you just put the other driver on the verge of a stroke or heart attack. Perhaps you even managed to ruin his/her day.
If you are on line at a local convenience store, don’t be embarrassed to dig for that damn penny somewhere in that bottomless satchel or the fact that the cashier has to make a trip to the supply room to find your brand of cigarettes.
Let the dweebs behind you stew their hearts out. Don’t worry about the fact you’ve put some of them on the verge of passing out from rage; THAT’S their problem. And, when you walk away from the checkout station, be proud of yourself. Look at all that REACTIVE stress you just created!
I want you to write this 1,000 times. “Competent “assholes” are PROACTIVE; incompetent ‘assholes’ are REACTIVE.” Got it? If others are going to call us assholes no matter what, then we owe it to ourselves to be the best we can be.
And, for any of you reading this who might disagree with my take on the matter, go ahead; BE REACTIVE!
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.