Stop Signs

by Tom Swift

As my dog and I approached the street corner, a gentleman in a jeep drove through the stop sign we were headed for. We were far enough away that our safety was not in question but close enough that what I had seen was not in doubt: the guy ran the stop sign. He may have taken his foot off the gas for hot second but he did not so much as tap the break.

He went. Straight. Through. The sign.

Instinctively, I raised my arm overhead and yelped.

We cross this intersection nearly every day. And we are not the only ones. Our corner market is right there. Our neighbors live and walk here, too. Some have young children. Lots have dogs.

The jeep, now through the intersection, stopped. It backed up. It stopped right where it should have seconds before. The passenger-side window came down. The driver, in the jeep solo, leaned in our direction.

I pointed at the stop sign. Possibly the gentleman had not seen the stop sign. It was still early in the morning. There was no one else around, no other cars went by.

The gentleman saw the stop sign. He did not miss the stop sign.

In high school, around the time we were learning to drive, we had a joke that the stop signs with the white lines around them were optional. We would tell this to a gullible newbie driver, make him question what he had learned in driver’s ed. This gentleman must have gone to the same driving school. He was old enough, looked like, to have done so. He was old enough, at least, to know that all the stop signs have white lines around them and none of them are optional.

Turns out, I was the idiot.

For the gentleman lectured me. I was the problem, he said. People like me. People who don’t mind their own business.

“Was your life in danger?” He asked me this more than once. There were question marks and exclamation marks at the end of his sentences.

“That’s why I backed up,” he added. “That’s the problem with the world today. People don’t mind their own business.”

This gentleman was, in other words, fighting the good fight.

To extend his theory, had he stood at the same intersection he had driven through and fired a gun down the avenue, I would only be in my rights to object if I happened to have been in the line of his fire.

Or let’s say he had driven his car through the front door of the corner market, I would only be in my rights to object if I had happened to be on the other side of that door.

Of course, there was nothing I was going to say to this man to make him alter his argument. When you’re right, you’re right.

I ended the conversation and my dog and I crossed the intersection and on with our morning walk.