Thursday, April 10, 2014

Opuscula

Call me
Curmudgeon

 

I am not "politically correct." I am judgmental. I'm not ashamed to be either.

Driving around my town I wish for a return of the annual auto inspection.

I would settle for police checkpoints where drivers are stopped and required to produce license, registration, and proof of insurance while another office checks the vehicle's lights and tire tread. Random stops at random locations.

Stop the junkers and stop the showroom new Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys. Show no favoritism. Brake lights fail on million dollar vehicles as often as they fail on clunkers.

My son, The COp, tells me that if a vehicle has 2 out of 3 brake lights that work, that's enough. But my risk management mentality tells me if one already is burned out, when will another fail? When? Before the driver notices one is burned out.

    Checking to see if back and brake lights are working is easy; back up near a window and look at the reflection. Almost a "no brainer."

Florida used to do that - random stops. Likewise California. I have first hand experience in both states. Florida also once had annual inspections. Unlike many states, Florida controlled the inspection stations, and while the lines sometimes were long, there was no suspicion that the inspector would offer to fix your vehicle "for a fee." (True, there were rumors that some state employees would accept a "gratuity" to overlook a minor problem.)

The full-vehicle inspections ended, but emission inspections remained for a little longer. Now they, too, are history. Their absence is noticeable when the vehicle in front belches noxious smoke. (It's as bad as the turkeys who set their in-car boom boxes to "Deafen at 500 feet." There is a law, but I doubt its enforced.)

I live in a "gated community." That is supposed to give residents a warm fuzzy feeling of security. The community is surrounded by a low (5') wall that is an impediment only to someone 3-foot-tall, and even then . . . There's a rent-a-cop at the main entrance, but they cannot stop a determined trespasser.

    It reminds me of my ulpan kibbutz in Israel. The kibbutz either found some extra money or suddenly was concerned with vehicles entering the kibbutz unannounced. It built a guard shack and put a wooden "gate" across the road. The guard, however, had no phone, no two-way radio, and no weapon. So much for security.


Guard shack with wooden barrier arms

If you walk in the community, as I do, you do so at your own risk.

Never mind that there are no sidewalks. The danger is from drivers who ignore traffic signs as if they were invisible. Stop signs. Not even there.

Squared corners? You've GOT to be kidding.

Worse, most walkers put their lives on the line walking with traffic rather than as safety and Florida law require facing oncoming traffic.

If anyone should say anything - and guess who DOES say something, albeit politely - they either ignore the person or they fail to comprehend the message - it's in a foreign language: English. It might not be so bad, but many walkers are mothers or baby sitters pushing their charges in carriages while they walk behind, hearing nothing but the noise from their headphones or cell phone.

Traffic inside the compound moves at a slightly slower pace than outside. A road I cross most mornings also is the preferred route for dump trucks loaded with sand for an airport expansion.

The road is posted for a maximum speed of 45 mph.

There is (at least) one driver who goes so fast he doesn't even TRY to stop his vehicle for a red light. Blast the horn and God help anyone crossing the street. The particular truck conveniently lacks any signage on the cab and the license plate is - as it is for all trucks in Florida - on the front of the vehicle, making it next to impossible for anyone to report the vehicle to the cops.

Call me a curmudgeon. Say I'm judgmental.

That's OK. I think there should be more judgmental people; maybe we'd have a more civilized, law abiding, and safe world.