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The trouble with stoplights

Posted: March 12, 2013 7:57 p.m.
Updated: March 13, 2013 5:00 a.m.

There is something that has been bothering me lately.  And no, I’m not referring to the fact that there will never again be a new episode of 30 Rock (RIP Liz Lemon) or the fact that the writers of Downton Abbey (SPOILER ALERT) decided to kill off two of the most likable characters on the show in particularly gruesome fashions. My beef is with something that we are servants to almost every single day of our lives -- stoplights.

I know, I know stoplights … a seemingly mundane and common institution. Why stoplights you say? Well it’s your lucky day because I am here to tell you exactly why. I don’t understand them. Who is in charge of them? Who dictates how long a light stays red or green? Why does one stay red longer than another? Or green longer than another? Who gets to choose how long we are sitting, waiting, wishing for a simple change of color at an intersection all the while growing increasingly more and more frustrated?

For some reason the stoplights around here seem, at least to me, even more maddening then those in other areas. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stopped at a light in the downtown neighborhood area on a Tuesday night with no other headlights coming from either direction for five minutes plus. It’s gotten to the point where, if I’m in the aforementioned situation, I spend my time stopped there in a daydream about being able to just go for it. And by go for it I mean run that light like I’m running the 500 yard dash at an elementary school field day. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it really make a sound? Exactly. Those were five minutes of my life I will never get back and add that to the fact that I spent them hanging out on Fair Street. Not that Fair Street is my least favorite place to hangout but it’s definitely not my most favorite place to be while confined within a vehicle.

I’ve even been involved in incidents where I have had to get out of my car and press the pedestrian crosswalk button in a sad attempt at forcing the light to change more quickly. The other day, I kid you not, I sat at a light at Broad Street for 10 minutes before I realized what had happened: I had been thwarted by the traffic light wizards. They saw that it was a beautiful day outside and I was more than ready to be outdoors enjoying the warm sunshine so they decided it would be a fun “joke” to make me sit there. And sit there. And sit there. That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I turned right on red (which is legal) and pulled a U-turn so I was now going with the green. I then gave those inhumane traffic light wizards a demonstration of my feelings towards them. I even kept checking in my rearview mirror to see if the light was ever going to change and it never did. For as long as I could see that glowing green light, it stayed that way. Green. No glimpse of yellow in sight. To the person who got caught in that dirty trap after my escape -- if you didn’t display the cunning brilliance that I used to get out of there, I hope the light eventually turned. I also think that someone needs to go check that intersection out because there could be a lot of skeletons belonging to those who transpired while waiting for the light to change color (intersection of Broad and Rutledge streets).

At one point in my life, I was sure that my problems regarding the stoplights were solely the outcome of my own impatience. That the lights weren’t taking a ridiculously long time to change color, that it was just me and my own issues with time. I later learned that this was false after subtly asking those around me “so how about these stoplights around here?” to which the reply was more often than not “they’re the worst!” See, I have proof to backup my complaints and give reason to my madness. I learned that I wasn’t alone. That others viewed the stoplights around here as being the worst as well.

So, I need your help. E-mail, call, text, send a messenger pigeon, anything. Do you know who the traffic light wizards are? Do you know the reason, if there is any, to why the lights change (or don’t change) when they do? I need answers, people. Help me to understand the stoplights around here. It’s the one thing I want to understand about life more than anything besides how television show creators can be so cruel. Oh and if Sheriff Matthews or any members of law enforcement are reading this… the things I “did,” I meant them hypothetically. You can’t give a ticket for that, right? Here’s to hoping I don’t get ticketed and to understanding traffic lights.


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