Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gas Line Rage and The Fall of the Rights of a Pedestrian

Gas lines are everywhere and I’m not sure why. I think a lot of people are traveling this summer despite the record high oil prices, and that must account for some of the traffic at the gas pump. The interesting social dynamic at the gas pump, however, is what this blog is about. I go to a gas station that is tied to a large grocery conglomerate and if you spend a certain amount of dollars per month, they give you a considerable discount on the price per gallon. I absolutely despise going to this gas station, however, because it is, by far, the rudest place to trade. It’s not the gas station’s fault, it’s the consumers that seem to take great pleasure in jockeying for the next ‘in line’ purchase. It’s much ruder than the type A people in the store check out lanes that zip back and forth to expedite their purchase. You know who you are; you’ll jump 8 lanes of lines to save a few seconds on your checkout time. Wow. What an accomplishment!

At this particular gas station, it’s just plain obnoxiously rude. Cars line up on the adjacent street so as to get the jump at the next available pump. This creates a backed up traffic jam on the particular street. Once a filling spot is open, people will jump to that space in order to save precious time. Yesterday I had the unpleasant task of buying gas. I was in the line and with one car in front of me. A spot became open, but it was “bass-ackward” to the guy’s gas tank. He violently gunned his car, grinded his reverse gear and backed into the space almost killing a patron in the process. Fortunately the patron was nimble on foot and managed to avoid a near death experience. The driver of the car said nothing to remedy his rudeness and only proceeded to glare at the walking patron for being in his way.

What’s wrong with this picture? I think it has to do with the de-personification of courtesy when one gets behind the wheel. The larger the vehicle, it seems to be the less need for courtesy and politeness. I drive a small Toyota so I’m humbled at every intersection! My solution to this gas station problem is simply to queue up behind someone gassing and then let it be. I may take 3 minutes longer, but it solves the road rage problem and the street jam. Turn off your engine, take some time and don’t jeopardize lives in the process of filling your tank. Road rage is nothing more than the lack of courtesy and politeness to our fellow human beings that happen to share our planet during our time here. The challenge for us all is to slow down, take it easier and don’t act as if our time at the gas pump (or check out lane for that matter) is a life and death situation. Not doing so may indeed make it a life and death situation for some pedestrian.

In Boulder pedestrians have the right-of-way. I like that. In Northern Colorado, pedestrians are simply obstacles to overcome or over-driven. When I moved to Colorado some 35 years ago, I was impressed at the patience people used when driving. Pedestrians were king. Can we return to such a state? Yes, if each one of us simply slows the pace down a bit, realizing that our vehicle is an extension of our personality and that we should never do anything in a vehicle that we wouldn’t do face to face with a fellow human.

No comments:

Post a Comment