Four-Way Stops

If you get in a car, you can’t avoid them. They are a bane of many people’s existence. (To put it lightly!) Four-way stops can be great if you’re alone (then they are just like a normal stop sign.) But add other cars, and usually it’s an incredibly maddening situation! I was riding in the car last night to go home for fresh sweet corn and steak, and those wonderful four-way memories came rushing back. Due to the great time (sarcastically speaking) I’ve had at them, I told my college daughter the subject of a four-way stop would make an excellent A+ psychology research paper.

I was taught in Drivers Ed 32 years ago that the first to get there, proceeds first. If the cars enter the intersection at the exact same time, tie goes to the car on your right. (Not the biggest!) If they are opposite of each other, both just go. I don’t think the rules have changed, but I think some people sluffed the day it was taught. (They sure act like they have no clue!)

You can totally read a personality by the way the driver acts at a four-way stop sign. (Like profiling.) I understand some of us might be having a bad day, and those rotten attitudes will come out as we attempt to quickly reach our destinations. But at a “road-rage” free stop, your true colors are going to be revealed. 

There is the impatient, self-centered driver who will stop and immediately proceed with no regard to who was next. They might not even stop at all! Then there’s the polar opposite timid or good-deed driver who waits until everyone goes then they will eventually feel inclined to go. This inaction wastes a normal person’s time, as they wait and wait, then they finally say to themselves, “Fine, you’re not gonna go, I will.” Then you have the bossy, self-appointed king of the intersection who decides to be the traffic cop, and gives drivers permission to go with a flip of their hand.  They put themselves in charge like they need to fix the intersection. (It’s extra upsetting when they don’t know what they’re doing.) There’s the indecisive driver who stops and goes and stops again. You are positive if you go you’re going to get hit by them as they try to make up their minds. Finally there’s the mouthy, road-rage prone driver who lets you have a big chunk of their thoughts if you even think about crossing their paths. It usually involves obscenities and a certain finger. (Really?) I guess I need to add the calm, level-headed well-adjusted driver who just wants to get through in one piece, with little drama, and a smile. (You hope and pray the stop is full of these drivers!)

I have decided a four-way stop situation is a lot like life. You’ll survive it much better when you follow the rules and keep your bad day to yourself. (Just be kind!) The biggest determiner to how you get ‘across’ successfully is your attitude. Do you just chuckle at the place you’re at and the unbelievable circumstances, or do you grumble, growl and complain at where life has landed you? Sometimes things don’t go exactly how you’d prefer, but is it really a reason to ruin someone else’s day? There are some things that are a necessary evil and unavoidable, but you can control the way you react to them. Keep smilin’! (Sometimes you’ve just got to!)

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