Memory is overrated anyway

Friday, September 21, 2007

It is painful to realize that you've remembered something important, and what you've remembered is that you have forgotten something important.

Go ahead. Munch on your Wheat Chex for a minute while that sinks in.

It's one of those classic good news-bad news situations. As I grow more age-advantaged, I am having more and more encounters with memory lapses.

One evening earlier this week I was getting ready to take the trash out to the garage when I remembered that I was supposed to pick up an important piece of mail from my mother, who lives across town. It occurred to me that there was something else -- I'm fairly sure it was important -- that needed tending on that side of town. I was proud that I had the good sense to plan ahead a little bit, and so I told myself that I could kill two of those proverbial birds with one trip across Kingshighway.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am becoming less and less fond of having to cross Kingshighway.

First, there's way too much traffic. Who are all these people, and why aren't they working? Or in school?

Second, the stoplights have banded together to make every motorist wait a long, long time for no good reason. I predicted this would happen years ago when stoplights were given artificial intelligence.

Hook up a computer to an electronic device capable of making a semi loaded with 20 tons of steel girders come to a dead stop when there's no cross traffic and you don't know what will come of it.

I believe, just for the sake of discussion, that there has been some inbreeding among stoplights going on, and what we have as a result is stoplights that are not only smarter than most average motorists, but they're mean and vindictive as well.

How else do you explain waiting for a green light in the southbound lane of West End Boulevard -- and waiting, and waiting and waiting -- even though, on a Sunday morning, not a single vehicle is coming or going on Independence Street?

How else do you explain that the signals at Kingshighway and Bloomfield Road let north-south traffic go and go and go, and when east-west traffic finally gets a green light, it's only for westbound traffic? Eastbound traffic gets its green light only when the stoplight is good and ready.

How else do you explain that early in the morning, when there is no traffic in or out of the mall, all the signals along William Street turn red anyway?

How else do you explain that the two left-turn lanes for eastbound traffic on William Street at Mount Auburn Road get a green light for all of seven seconds if there are more than eight cars waiting, but 30 or 40 seconds if there is only one car -- or no cars at all?

How else to you explain that the signal on Mount Auburn Road never turns green for eastbound traffic on Independence Street if there's only one car waiting?

How else ...?

Good golly. You get my drift.

I'll bet you have your own pet psycho traffic signal. Let me know about them. You know how misery -- and those afflicted with it -- loves company.

Heck, we might even have a contest. We could put out a special section of the newspaper listing the No. 1 choices for craziest traffic signal, worst bend in a city street, most obstructed stop sign, hardest-to-find street sign, most inaccurate city map, worst Mapquest directions, goofiest access to an easy-access drive-through window, most unsafe street for bicycles and handicapped parking farthest from an entrance.

By the way, for you sticklers: I still haven't remembered the other thing I was supposed do on the other side of town.

Bet you thought I forgot that I forgot.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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