Are You Four-Way Stop Savvy?

For those of you who may have missed our local paper’s recent guest column from yours truly;

Are You Four-Way Stop Savvy?

Its dark out and you are approaching the dreaded, most congested part of your little town. You know the long wait that lies ahead of you. You also know you are completely dependent on that little understood quality that only few of us possess; “four-way stop savvy.”

This is not a quality that many of us are born with; it is a recent mutation in the genetic code that’s only showing up in a “naturally selected” few. It has been noted to show up in human clusters in random areas of the planet and our little hamlet seems to be one of these blessed locations. If you are one of the many who have not yet mutated this genetic characteristic into your code, you probably find yourself continuously nonplussed as you approach the harrowing four-way stop.

It’s amazing to think that road rage could even occur in our little burg; however, this is unfortunately commonplace at least twice a day in one section of our mini-opolous. Here at the four corners, much is at stake and much will be decided in a short amount of time. The bad news is, is that it is all out of your control. The good news is, is that it is all out of your control. It is a prime opportunity to practice all those self-help techniques; “I am at peace in the now and I have all the time I need.” Ahh, feel the tension melting out of your body as you exhale deeply. Or, if you are still on page 2 of the self-help manual, you might be unable to appreciate the beauty all around you as you sit in a line of twenty cars waiting for someone to master the four way stop.

Can’t you find that well of empathy that lies within you that has compassion for each and every driver as they navigate their way through the upcoming treachery? The quandary we each must address; “am I a failure or a success?” “Did I do it right or wrong?” “Did I make a fool of myself or how many people did I ____ off this time?” And my personal favorite, “how come everyone else seems to know when to go?” These are just some of the split-second angst we endure each time we enter the “crossroads of comradery.”

That’s right, every time you enter this “crossroads of comradery,” it is a good time to make new friends. Show some human interest in your fellow man and make…wait for it; eye contact. Eye contact is the great communicator; it says, “I know you exist and are you going to let me go first?”All in one quick connection, the pecking order is established. Which is it going to be? I can be nicer than you or I don’t have time for this and I am just going to go. This works great in the day time and when there are no clear answers for who really is on your right.

So where does the savvy gene come in, one might ask? There are moments at the four-way stop that seem almost choreographed and if we piped music into the intersection…. It doesn’t happen that often, but occasionally four people with this savvy gene will show up at the four-way stop at the exact same moment. What you are about to witness is the highest level of savvy and is not to be attempted by the neophyte. Four right turns at the same time? Is this really possible? It’s a wondrous event that only lasts a second. On a more regular basis, you might find two naturally selected experts arriving across from one another. Amazingly, they are able to go straight through the intersection at the same time or even take left turns simultaneously, regardless of who was there first. The savvy individual is able to appraise the scene quickly and shorten the wait time for all the less savvy behind them. Hooray for natural selection.

Here’s a general rule of thumb for the four-way; if each driver went through one at a time, there were no genetically enhanced folks in that batch and don’t feel like a failure. I’ve been told that those without the savvy gene can actually learn how it’s done through observation and practice, practice, practice.

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