Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Countdown

Right now, David is obsessed with three things. (Incidentally, in the politically correct world, I am supposed to refer to these things as “special” or “intense interests.”)  I have already well documented David’s “intense interest” in elevators over our summer vacation, a fascination which continues to this day.  David is also currently fixated, whoops, “especially interested” in carwashes (more on that later) and stop signs with numbers.

By way of explanation, David refers to a certain type of walk/don’t walk sign as a “stop sign with numbers.”  They are the signs with the upraised orange hand that starts flashing and has a countdown to alert pedestrians how many seconds they have left to cross the street before impatient motorists start careening through the intersection.

David had noticed these signs as we were racing around town and he would always point them out to us, but then he began asking to go see them.  Originally, we used them as a reward when David had a particularly stressful day, but since the stop sign that we visit most frequently is less than a mile from our house it seems that our trips are becoming more numerous.

Almost every time we get in the car now, David begins his negotiation.  Can we go to the stop sign?  How many times can we go through the stop sign?  Can we stop on the way to our destination AND on the way home from our destination?  Like the UPS drivers who motor around town without making left turns, I plan my errands with convoluted routes through the stop signs to keep David happy—except that I do not have the benefit of sophisticated software to help me navigate.

As the creator of this fun game, David has developed rules for enhanced viewing pleasure.  Rule one—you must be positioned in time to see the countdown begin at 25.  Rule two—no counting out loud until the countdown has reached 10.  Rule three—no one but David is allowed to count.  Rule four—the countdown must conclude with clapping and (cue the driver of the car) an enthusiastic, “Good job counting!”

But, the fifth and perhaps most important rule—the car MUST be positioned to allow for optimal countdown viewing.  I know it sounds crazy, but following these rules, timing the lights, making sure there is not a car in front blocking the view, and strategizing for best visibility is stressful.  And, with my apologies to cars waiting behind me, sometimes I have to be in the right turn lane so that David can see the numbers and we do not have to go through the intersection, make a U-turn and start the whole process over again.

Now, here is where you are going to think perhaps I have finally lost it.  I realized the other day that I have developed a certain stop sign posture when there is a car behind us.  You know when you are driving and someone cuts you off and you have to swerve to avoid hitting them and then they smile and wave or some other simple gesture of apology that somehow makes it all okay?  Well, I realized that I subconsciously had developed a sort of posture that apparently I hoped would convey to the driver of the car behind me something along the lines of No, I am not an idiot for waiting through this whole light, passing up plenty of opportunities to turn right on red--I just now decided that I needed to turn right-- See how I didn’t put my blinker on until the very last minute?

I guess life presents many opportunities to make a turn, but David teaches me that sometimes it is simply better to stop and wait.  Let the countdown begin.

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