Monday, February 8, 2016

Slices of Cheese

Continuing my series of “Things That Cheese Me Off” from a previous blog. We’ll start off with something I find more amusing than cheese-inducing. Due to budget shortfalls, the Ephrata Library has been closed on Fridays for roughly a year now. Some people still haven’t gotten the word, even when you slam them in the face with it. While the library itself is closed, the passport office/post office substation in the lobby is open. In front of the lobby doors, just inside the building, stands a large sign on an easel, stating, “The library’s closed on Fridays, but you can still get stamps and a passport,” or words to that effect. I’m talking a huge-ass sign here, with big, black, in-your-face letters, parked right in front of the doors. There’s no way anybody could miss it.

You’d be amazed how many people walk right around the sign, through the lobby, stare at the locked interior library doors and then ask despondently, “They’re closed?”

I get to watch this all the time because, like I said, while the library’s closed, the lobby’s open, and the WiFi’s up and running because they need Internet in the post office. So I get my free ‘Net when it’s nice and quiet and I have the lobby to myself. Well, me and the other regulars who like to use the lobby as their personal office. And the folks who walk around the sign.

You’ve heard of selective hearing? This is selective sight. These people have business in the library and nothing’s going to stop them, not even a ginormous, blink-and-you’ll-still-see-it “We’re closed” sign. It’s like in pro wrestling, where guys hit each other with folding chairs behind the ref’s back. If the ref didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. If they don’t see the sign, it’s not there and the library is open.

They have to see the sign because they don’t walk into it. Maybe they’re not reading it? Maybe they can’t read? Then what the hell are they doing in a library?

Having people on laptops in the lobby probably bolsters the illusion of openness. I’m getting tired of having to interrupt my web surfing to explain to people that even though I’m sitting there, the library’s still closed. I’m not an employee. I’d wear a sign to that effect, but I doubt anybody would read it.

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Today’s cheese is tangentially related to the library situation. I’ve blogged previously about how nobody driving a car stops or slows down any more. Every time you cross a street or back out of a parking space with limited visibility, you take your life in your hands. Don’t expect drivers to slow down or even brake for you. Pedestrians might get the horn. Other drivers, no.

Because it does no good. My car got hit in a parking lot when another driver backed into me. I blasted my horn. He ignored me. After the accident he said he didn’t hear me. Apparently he also didn’t hear his wife sitting next to him, who did hear my horn and told him to stop. Stop? While you’re behind the wheel of a car? Are you mad?

It’s bad enough when drivers do this. But then they park their cars and start walking and carry this entitled attitude with them. These are the people who step off the curb without bothering to check for traffic. Because they’re the only ones who matter. Others stop for them.

Or it could be simple carelessness. Or blatant stupidity. Or the wrestling defense. They didn’t see you. If they didn’t see you, you weren’t there. Doesn’t matter. Couple this mindset with a driver sporting the same mindset and you’ve got an accident on your hands. Sometimes a messy one, possibly fatal. And guess who gets the blame?

I had this happen with a kid once. I was tooling down a main road and spotted her on the corner up ahead. Her little buddy had already crossed the street and was waiting for her. I assessed the situation and knew, I just knew, what was going to happen. I cut my speed and kept a close eye on her. She looked the other way, saw nothing, then stepped out right in front of my car. Never once looked in my direction. She didn’t even know I was there until I slammed on my brakes.

I drive a stick shift. Of course it stalled. She darted across the street, where she and her little friend stood laughing at me while I tried to get my car re-started. To this day I’ll bet she tells everybody, “The crazy lady almost ran me over.”

She was a kid, so she gets a pass. Most kids don’t grow a full brain until they’re well into their 20s. If you’re over 20 and still doing this, you deserve to get hit.

I had a grown woman with a baby in her arms step right in front of my car. Fortunately this was in a grocery store parking lot so I was moving at a crawl. She stared at me in shock, then did that “Oh, silly me” laugh. Yeah. Silly dead you and your kid. Silly me with the double vehicular manslaughter charge. This is nothing compared to the morons who look right at you and dart in front of you anyway. That’s not even carelessness. That’s blatant stupidity. I had a guy do this to me once, again on a busy street. He also turned around and laughed. You know what would have been really funny? If some oncoming car would have hit him while he was looking at me. Some driver who never hit the brakes or even slowed down because the rest of the world is supposed to get out of his way.

These incidents happened back in the prehistoric era, before cell phones and handheld devices. It’s even worse out there now. You’ve got texting drivers coupled with pedestrians who can’t be bothered to check for traffic before they cross the street. Eventually enough teams with this mindset will meet up to wipe each other out of existence. I’m just going to sit here in the house. And no, just because I live in a mobile home, that doesn’t mean I’m capable of moving it out of the way of your car. Maybe I should put up a sign.

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