Updated: April 4, 2013 6:13AM
It is not as much of a life changer as indoor plumbing, but the turn signal invention rates high as a life saver.
Some of us don’t know much about the turn signal, even how to use it. One of the pillars of American independence is “Let us do our own thing,” even if it kills us, or somebody else out there on the highways.
I read the other day that a thing called the “thermal flasher” makes this gadget work. Did you know that?
For folks who can’t get the hang of it, try this, as in doing the Hokey Pokey — you put your left hand out and push a lever up and down, etc. It blinks, warning other drivers that you MAY change lanes.
Some of us turn the signal on after we have changed lanes, apparently to tell others “See what I did?” It is a neat little trick.
The turn signal was installed in cars in 1938 or so, but back home I never heard of such a thing. If we felt the urge, we just rolled the window down and stuck an arm out, the left one, usually. Sometimes we even used a finger to tell other drivers which way we were going. It was all very exciting. In cold weather we usually didn’t bother.
In those good old days before the road rage germ appeared, it did not matter much, because most drivers knew where we were going anyway. Sometimes we did not even pause at our downtown stop sign. It was a wild and crazy traffic world in Elnora, especially when somebody was driving a tractor right through the downtown past the barbershop. Tractors had no turn signals.
I often need a patience pill when trying to turn left from our condoland on the way to get real pills from the nearby pharmacy. The hospital is close, though, a comforting thought. And there are no tractors. I miss the tractors.
This left turn thing has put some older drivers into a funk — I am an older driver, probably getting close to a funk of some kind, but I am not cowardly like some old folks, who just will not do a left turn.
Their arguments against the left turn maneuver make sense if you are not in a hurry to get somewhere, and in no danger of forgetting where you are going. As one of my close friends says, “Just make three rights — that’s the same as a left and a lot safer.”
I have never tried that. I would probably get lost. Besides doing that on my way to the pharmacy would be awfully awkward. Maybe I should do a different route, and avoid the left turn. I wonder, probably unfairly, if some drivers just lean right politically and abhor going left.
I read a delightful piece by a fellow describing his elderly parents’ experiences with the “three rights are as good as a left” thing. What if you lose count and go past the three? His dad admitted losing count, “but it is not a problem. You just make seven rights and you are OK again. If we miss at seven we just go home and call it a bad day.”
I like that. I am afraid of doing the right-turn maneuver because I get lost easily.
These driving things do remind us older folks that there is a time to hand over the keys, if anybody wants them. But gee whiz, driving is so, well AMURICAN.
I do recall one really enlightening thing about turn signals. Some years back when I left the hearing aid place with a little gadget in each ear, I turned the signal on and it was so loud I almost lost control. It was scary. That thermal flasher doohickey was working well.