Recently, the left turn signal of the beloved station wagon blew its bulb. You simply don’t realize how important such signals are until you are without one on a slippery, two lane highway in a blizzard and you need to turn left. All that got me to thinking about the need for signals, in cars and in life. People expect to know your intentions; in fact, lives depend on it, even in a grocery store.

Take for instance the warning sound that tells you that your left turn indicator has died. Thankfully, I know how to speak mechanic. Now, prepare yourself because I am about to get technical here. My left turn indicator had gone from its standard click-click-click sound to a new, hyper-active rhythm of clickity­- click­ity­­-clickity. Houston, we have a problem. Off to the car dealership, which fortunately for me is a drive of all right turns.

Car service guys need a laugh; have you ever noticed that? So typically, to lighten the mood I explain my car issues through a dramatic game of charades. Two words; first word; and then I start to flip my head side to side to indicate the banging of the muffler, or twirl my arm for the squealing sound of the hamster in the fan belt that actually runs my engine. You don’t want to see what I do to explain the emission issues.

I think I’ve left an impression with the service guy at my car dealership, because when he asked me to verify the sound my signal was making, it was service guy who did the “clickity-clickity-clickity” for me.

For reasons not yet clear to me, I shared with service guy my personal philosophy on the value of signals and why I believe they should be mandatory on people, as well as cars.

Think about that. Imagine signals on people in grocery stores. Think of the frustration that could be avoided with shopping carts if you knew who was turning or when it was safe to pass. Traffic jams in the cereal aisle get downright ugly, you know. We could have right-of-way and merging options for the lolly gaggers who drift around aimlessly, without a list or a clue of what’s for dinner tonight, and protect them from the keeners who have coupons and are ever eager to get that coffee in the mega tin that only goes on sale twice a year (with a limit of four per customer).

We could institute police cameras at the end of each aisle to nab those fools who pass other shopping carts right at the end of the lane. Don’t you hate it when you’re standing there, wanting to turn in, but you can’t because two carts are both bottle-necking the end of the aisle? Gridlock. New law: no passing from the granola bars to the cake mixes.

Or perhaps there would be peace in the potato chip aisle if those really annoying people who stop to talk for three days right smack dab in the middle (parallel parked no less) had the common courtesy to throw on their four-way hazards and at least let me know they plan to park.

Then there are the reckless brake users. They should have bumper stickers, “Warning: I make sudden stops.” Even a shopping cart needs adequate stopping distance, you know.

Signals matter. They make us kinder, more compassionate people. We need them.

I’ll bet you don’t want to hear my theory on car horns.


Kelly Waterhouse