Drive Me Crazy

In last week’s column, I made the modest proposal that someone should run over just one BYU student with a car so as to teach the rest of them a lesson about darting out into traffic, which BYU students seem to enjoy as much as they enjoy looking for things to be offended by.

This prompted the greatest number of e-mails I have received to date, a vast majority of them agreeing with me (at least in principle; some writers balked on the actual “running-over” part). It seems this really struck a chord, even more than when I described certain elderly persons as having “gnarled, useless ears”; even more than when I said everyone in New York City is ugly; and even more than when I made jokes in connection with Education Week (a bad idea, since of course no Education Week speakers themselves ever make jokes or act in a light-hearted manner).

So apparently I wasn’t the only one fed up with BYU students’ street-crossing methods, wherein they look (or not) to see if a car is coming, and then proceed to cross regardless. A few people, though, sent e-mails disagreeing with me. The best one is reprinted here EXACTLY as I received it. Please read it carefully.

“Hey Bozo: Have you read the handbook latley? The law says that the pedestrian has the rright of way in a cross walk. No wonder Utah drivers get so many tickets in a state where the law is inforced. If you ever go to Oregon you had better obey the law. You better not be the one who hits soomeone or you be in jail for manslaughter.”

Signed, “A Driver who learned to driver in Oregon.”

Personally, I am soomeone who learned to driver in California, where it is also against the law to hit pedestrians. In fact, while I am no legal expert, I am fairly confident that most states have laws prohibiting the killing of another person. (Texas may be an exception to this.)

As this letter-writer so eloquently pointed out, if you hit someone with your car, “you be in jail for manslaughter.” I’ll have to revise my plan, then, because if I be in jail, I be seriously bummed out.

I’ve re-examined my hitting-a-BYU-student-with-a-car position anyway, having reflected upon the fact that Provo drivers seem to be at fault here, too. They pull too far forward, covering up the crosswalks, forcing pedestrians to walk around them. They also pretend not to see pedestrians, figuring that if they don’t make eye contact, the walker will assume the driver doesn’t see him, thus scaring him into not crossing. (Note: This does not work with BYU students, who will boldly and stupidly walk anyway.)

I’m also not pleased with Provo drivers’ stoplight behavior. Provoans are so used to being humble and meek that when the light turns green, they’re stunned. They can’t believe they’ve been chosen. They just sit there and look at it for a long time before finally proceeding. I can only guess what goes through their minds: “Well, the light’s green. But that can’t be right, can it? A green light? For us? We don’t deserve that. Those other people don’t have a green light. Why should we have one? Well, no one is else is crossing the intersection, so I guess it’s safe. But I still don’t feel right about this….”

So to be fair, while BYU students are imbecilic for walking out into traffic with little regard for common courtesy or common sense, Provo drivers are not blameless, either. In fact, I guess none of us is perfect, and never will be in this life, especially not without a spell-checker.

I think the bit about Provo drivers' reactions at stoplights is funnier when presented in person, e.g., in a stand-up comedy situation. But until they figure out how to make newspapers talk, we'll have to settle for the printed version, which may be slightly inferior but which is still better than that crap Erma Bombeck used to write.

Note the literary reference in the first paragraph to Jonathon Swift's "A Modest Proposal," in which he suggested people eat their babies so as to avoid overpopulation. I've never read it, but I'm told it's an example of brilliant satire that I should read sometime.

This column was the result of an e-mail I got -- not the one quoted in the column, but an intelligent one. It pointed out the irresponsibility in only presenting one side of an issue, and how drivers are often very much at fault, too. Now that doesn't matter too much to me -- "Snide Remarks" is meant as a humor column, not a balanced weighing of the issues -- but it did make me realize that I have plenty of things to say about Provo drivers, too. So why not write a column about them, thus touching on both sides of the issue without becoming an "issues-oriented" column? So thanks, whoever it was that sent me that e-mail.

This, by the way, was the first week of "Snide Remarks" in its new location. While it had previously appeared on page A-2 of The Daily Herald, it now was moved to the "Getaway Friday" entertainment section. It wasn't so much that it "fit" better there; it was more that they were moving ALL of the A-2 columns (a different columnist wrote each day) in order to free up more space for actual news. The Getaway Friday spot wasn't as great a location as A-2, but it was still pretty good, as that section was widely read, mostly 'cause that's where the movie listings were.