Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Word of the Day is Caution

Caution comes in handy. Standing next to a busy highway, I would hope that caution and a healthy dose of common sense would keep you from sauntering across. Pulling out at Mach 10 onto a road and then going 15 miles under the speed limit also does not show caution.

If you've noticed I'm leaning towards tales of vehicular caution, you are correct and it ties directly into my point today.

And yes, I have a point today.

About 11 years ago, Mom and I were driving to the 90th birthday party of a friend of the family. This party was way out in the country, so it was a pretty long drive.

Mom was driving and I was riding shotgun. We came to a caution light at a three way stop and all lights were flashing red. So, naturally, Mom stops. Not three seconds later, someone slams into us from the rear, knocking our car out into the middle of the road.

Everyone was fine, even though the people in the car behind us got completely hysterical and not in a "Gee, are you guys okay" kind of way. We called the accident into the police and requested an ambulance since one of the passengers in the other car hopped out and ran across the road shouting, "I'm knocked out! I'm knocked out!" Yeah, we didn't really get that either.

When the police and ambulance got there, they took one look at the cars (we had moved our car safely off to the side of the road by then) and tried to make all of us go to the hospital to get checked out. Mom and I politely declined, all of them went. I heard the EMT say that this was the third accident scene he'd been to where these people were involved. So either they were really, really bad drivers or they were hoping for a huge insurance payout of some sort. If that's the case, it would probably be a better idea if they were the rear-endees and not the rear-enders. But I digress.

Since then, I've always slowed down at caution lights. I stop at the red ones and slow down at the yellow ones...which if I remember the drivers ed booklet correctly is what you are supposed to do. You just never know when some crazy fool is going to come barreling through.

Yesterday, I was heading back home from Sam's and needed to stop at the commissary for a couple things for Tucker's party. On base, I'm vigilant about observing the speed limit because security forces will get you in a heart beat.

On the weekend, most of the base stoplights turn into flashing caution lights. So, as I approached one flashing yellow, I slowed down. I didn't stop. The guy behind me lays on the horn. Umm..okay then. I look in the rear view mirror and he's all hand gestures and yelling face. So I make a motion or two of my own and motion him around. If he's in that much of a hurry, let him get the ticket.

He passes me angrily (trust me, this guy was pissed) and then...uh oh...we are both heading to the commissary. He blows through a couple stop signs in the commissary parking lot. I park a few cars up from him and see him stomp into the commissary.

I get my cart and see him standing in the fruit section. So I walk over and say, "You know, it wasn't necessary to be so rude."

It takes him a second to figure out why I'm speaking to him and then he starts yelling. At me. In the commissary. I'll skip the details, but the gist of the conversation was that he claimed you don't slow down for yellow lights, I disagreed, and then he yelled some more and stomped off leaving everyone one around us staring with their mouths open. Did I mention he was yelling? Like, really, really loudly?

Now normally, something like this would have me so angry I would be unable to form coherent sentences OR I'd burst into tears. For whatever reason, I was calm and non phased.

Oh, right...I was calm because you are supposed slow down for a yellow flashing light. Even though no one in this regional area seems to agree.

It took about five minutes for the adrenaline/bravado/righteous indignation to wear off and then I realized what a non-cautious, unintelligent thing that was to do even if I was in public.

But never fear. I came home and gave myself a stern lecture about caution and how and when to use it. I'm also grounded and have to go to bed early.

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