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Friday, March 23, 2007

Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people

Our second-oldest cat, Joey, threw up this morning. Twice.

Minnie used to throw up all the time, usually undigested semi-moist food. Joey has never had a history of throwing up. He is also the only one of our cats who regularly ate any of the recalled pet food from Menu Foods. I found that out – with some difficulty – last weekend. Menu Foods has since improved its website to present lists of recalled foods in .html format rather than .xls format – which was a problem if you didn’t happen to have Excel on your home computer.

One of the symptoms being exhibited by pets that have been poisoned by the RAT POISON that has somehow contaminated the dog and cat food from Menu Foods is vomiting. We pulled all of the suspect cat food (Special Kitty, from Wal-Mart) last Saturday, and Joey hasn’t had any since then, and hadn’t vomited up until now. He also wasn’t showing any other symptoms. We didn’t really think he had been poisoned, but having already lost one cat to kidney failure we really didn’t want to see another one die the same way. We called the vet this morning and made an appointment for blood work this afternoon.

I drove, and my mom sat in the back seat with Joey in a carrier. He was frightened going up, and was frightened at the vet’s. But he got a clean bill of health, and we were soon on our way home.

We re-entered Nanticoke just after 3:00.

The street that I live on in Nanticoke is – or was – in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only street where you could go from Kindergarten through the second year of college without leaving the street. I don’t think this is still true, but there are still a lot of schools along the street. All of the elementary schools and the high school are clustered near the North end of the street, while Luzerne County Community College is about a mile away near the South end of the street. In the morning, the police diligently stop any LCCC students speeding through the school zone, but just as diligently ignore any speeding high school students heading in the other direction. After all, the college students heading down that road are probably from out of town, and have no relatives who are related to the mayor or members of city council and can cause problems. The high school students are from the Greater Nanticoke Area and probably do. Logical.

The high school lets out at 2:30, and for a good ten to fifteen minutes the area is full of vrooming, screeching, squealing cars carrying screaming, shouting, cursing high school students. At 3:00 the elementary schools let out and the streets are full of a younger version of the same students on foot, and a slightly older version of the drivers as parents pick up their kids.

We entered Nanticoke and began the virtually impossible crawl up the hill at 15 miles per hour. Kids filled the sidewalks and crossed the roads. A crossing guard stopped us a few blocks up to let some kids dash across at the crosswalk. A block later the street expanded into three lanes: one heading towards us and two going in our direction. The left-hand one was for turning left into the school complex, while the right-hand one was for going straight or right. There was a truck in the left-hand turning lane, a red pickup truck with a white cap. There was no one in the right lane. There was a crossing guard holding a STOP sign in the crosswalk. I pulled up to the crosswalk in the right-hand lane and waited for the kids to cross.

And waited. There were a lot of kids crossing. Every once in a while the crossing guard began to drop her sign and wave us through, and then suddenly she raised it again as more kids dashed into the crosswalk. After a minute or two of this the kids began to thin out. Three stragglers ran up, but one of them decided he didn’t want to cross anymore. His two friends bounded into the crosswalk. One of them ran across, while the other hesitated halfway through, then turned around and went back to his friend on the school side of the street. The crossing guard lowered her STOP sign and cleared the intersection.

“Her sign has flashing lights in it,” I observed to my mother as I began to drive.

“Yes, I’ve seen that before,” she replied.

“HOLY SHIT!!!” I added, as the red pickup truck with white cap cut across our path, nearly intersecting with our vehicle.

Now, in case I didn’t make it clear, this truck was in the LEFT lane. A TURNING lane for TURNING LEFT. We were in the RIGHT lane, a lane for GOING STRAIGHT or TURNING RIGHT.

It is conceivable that a person might find him- or herself in a LEFT TURNING lane when they really want to go STRAIGHT. Lord knows I’ve done that plenty of times. In these cases you have two options: you turn on your right turn signal, wait for a clearing in the right-hand lane, and then join the flow of traffic. If this is not possible, you continue your turn to the left and figure out a way of extricating yourself once you’re clear of the intersection.

The second option is really the only option if you are in a LEFT TURNING lane and really want to turn RIGHT.

Under no circumstances should you simply TURN RIGHT from a LEFT TURNING lane. PARTICULARLY IF THERE ARE VEHICLES IN THE RIGHT HAND LANE. ESPECIALLY PARTICULARLY IF THERE ARE MOVING VEHICLES IN THE RIGHT HAND LANE.

When I was but a wee tot I sat in the driver’s seat of my mom’s Volkswagen Bug as I waited for her to come downstairs and drive us to school. Then as now I was an avid reader. One of the only things to read in the car was the inspection sticker on the windshield. At the bottom it had the motto “Drive Defensively”.

Defensively? What did that mean? Was it a special way to drive if we were invaded by the Russians or the Vietnamese?

When she came down to the car I asked her what “Drive Defensively” meant.

“It means ‘Drive like everyone else on the road is an idiot who is trying to kill you’,” she replied.

Best driving advice I ever got.


I looked up at the truck as the front end of our car approached the wheel well of the truck. I slammed on the brakes and leaned on the horn – partly out of anger, partly out of frustration, but mostly to let the driver know that I was there and that if he or she continued to turn as he or she was turning he or she would hook my car. Fortunately the drivers directly behind me had a better view of what the idiot in the truck was doing than I did, and had the courtesy and sense not to rear-end us.

A little girl looked down from the truck’s passenger’s window – scared or perturbed, I don’t know. I could imagine her saying “Mommy/Daddy, why do these stupid people keep trying to crash into us and then blow their horns at us?”

The truck continued its rightward journey, swinging a little wide to avoid the car annoyingly blocking its path. I continued to lean on the horn, hoping to at least get the attention of some witnesses if a confrontation were to follow.

The truck pulled up on the side street and stopped. Another little girl, one of the last few to cross the street before the crossing guard waved us through, ran up to the passenger’s side window to have a conversation.

How nice, I thought.

I drove us the two remaining blocks home, cursing the stupidity of the bulk of humanity.


Title reference: The Refreshments, "Banditos".

5 comments:

tiffany said...

this is incredibles, but the same thing just happened to me two days ago.
(the car trying to turn right from the left lane part, not the crosswalk and vomitty cat part).

i swear, if i was 8 inches taller, i would follow people who drive like that and yell at them when they got out of the car.

p.s.
hope your kitty is ok.
if he's been off the food for a week, perhaps the problem is that his tummy isn't liking the new food?

dee said...

Your mother's advice is my philosophy exactly. Which is why, PERSON BEHIND ME WHO IS LEANING ON THE HORN BECAUSE I DIDN'T SHOOT OUT INTO THE INTERSECTION WHEN THE LIGHT TURNED GREEN, TAKING THE TIME FIRST TO MAKE SURE SOMEBODY'S NOT BARRELING THROUGH A RED LIGHT AS I HAVE SEEN THEM DO MORE THAN ONCE, I have been accident free for over 25 years.

And this cat food thing is making me so angry. I'm lucky in that Olive is a light eater so I can afford the really good stuff (Promise) at Whole Foods. But multiple cat households
(and people on limited incomes) often have to use a cheaper brand. It shouldn't mean that their cat's life is put in danger.

Betz said...

Harold, I am so glad that Joey is okay. I have been worried about both your and Lorenas cats thru all of this. And Ozzie eats Iams as well. :( Can you imagine?

I am sorry about the truck. :(
Like you needed that stress?

I proceed like Dee...wait, watch, then go...and yes, usually someone honking behind me!

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

See this is why I wish I had a dashboard mounted bazooka.

hedera said...

Yes, every so often, in traffic situations, my husband will turn to me and say, "We really should have installed the photon torpedo launchers..."