In all the years I have written this column (10 or 12 years?) I’ve only had two columns rejected. ‘Unprintable’ is what I was told on the last one. The one before that, the paper was fearful of retribution.
Both columns were about a man. Not the same man, but equally infuriating. It’s no secret that I often use my column to vent or to make fun of a current situation. Well, here I go again. Since this is about all men, I think I’m safe unless these men plan on organizing.
Patagonia has reached a new era. We have asphalt everywhere and at this moment more going in, slanted parking spots that no one can seem to understand, new street signs popping up everywhere helping those special people figure out where not to park, and the installation of two new four-way stops bringing the total to four.
At first, the four-way stops had people confounded. Some people just ignored them and breezed right though. Most stopped and played the game of “Who goes first?” but mostly it has become a place for quiet ‘mansplaining.’ It seems every time I stop at one of the four four-way stops in this community it never fails that there is a man who is also stopped. Doesn’t matter what kind of car he’s in, the scenario is always the same. I stop, he stops, and then in an exaggerated hand gesture, because I must not understand, he waves for me to go first. If I don’t comply the gestures get more exaggerated and then I mutter something profane and just go.
Here’s the thing – I took the same driving test that you did. I studied the book, took the written test and then drove with the instructor. Those same people believed that I met the requirements and gave me a driver’s license. So needless to say, I KNOW WHO GOES FIRST! I don’t need a diagram. I don’t need you to point to me and give me the exaggerated wave. I will use my training and years of driving experience to make the nail-biting decision to turn left. I wonder if these men think that the only thing keeping this town safe from a 100-woman pile-up on the corner of 3rd and Duquesne is them waving us through? Thank goodness for our unofficial traffic directors saving our fair city.
Now that I’ve gotten this off my chest, I’d like to offer some alternative places where your help may be needed. In the grocery store you can maintain the flow of carts down the aisle. You can also help alleviate the dance that happens when both people go left or right at the same time creating that awkward dance that happens when neither person will yield. This is where your exaggerated hand gestures will come in handy. In our newly created parking lots on McKeown Ave (the Disneyland of Patagonia) you can hang out like a parking attendant and use those hand gestures to point out cars to tourists that are lost. And finally, if you really wanted to help me you could sit on my front porch and wag your finger at tourists that try to park and eventually come into my house. I’ll even install a stop sign.
I know the men of this community mean well. It might even be considered chivalrous to let a woman go first. If that’s how you feel, then I say hold the door open next time you see one of us and trust that we can maneuver a four-way stop because in that situation the only hand gesture I know happens to be in the form of a bird.