Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Down Under Syndrome

So, yes, stupid people exist the world over. And I was SO happy to see that one of the fundamental stupid people tricks was alive and well from here to Oz. You see, it absolutely baffles me that people will stop in the middle of a busy pedestrian thoroughfare to get their bearings. “Okay, I’m at the top of the escalator now . . . let me just pause to see which . . .” CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK as people ride up their ignorant asses with NOWHERE to go. Or in a crowded shopping street. Or on a busy Central Business District sidewalk. Of course, we’re trained to be polite, but after a while you just kind of want to push them down HARD, saying in your best my-mama-raised-me-right voice, “I am SO sorry. Excuse me. Are you all right? Does it hurt when I do THIS!!”

Don’t get it. Never will. It even runs in my family. A dear, dear, sweet relative (who shall remain nameless, even though everyone in my family knows who I’m talking about) has been known to STOP on a freeway to see the directional signs better. Alternately, this lovely person has been known to come to a COMPLETE STOP at the end of an on-ramp, having had a change of heart about the route, then putting the car in REVERSE and backing off of the freeway. Yeah. That’s my gene pool!

But let me tell you about a couple of marvels I witnessed while in Australia. First, we visited the world-famous Taronga Park Zoo. Now, anytime a zoo is world-famous for it’s view of the city skyline, you gotta figure the animals ain’t all that. You’d be right. It was a pretty run-of-the-mill zoo, with one exception: At the ape enclosure, they actually had a diagram explaining the historical timeline for when human and monkey evolution separated. HOW COOL IS THAT? Can you imagine how apoplectic someone like Ted Haggard would be at such blatant evolutionism? He’d be out looking for a hustler with a meth supply faster than you could say “original sin.”

And the other thing I most loved: the stringent driving laws. See, they think of driving as a privilege. We seem to think of it as a right.

Not sure if you are aware of it or not, but in Texas, you no longer have to actually go take a driving test with a state trooper to get your license. If your driver’s ed instructor says you’re cool—BOOM—you got a license. I have just a bit of an issue with that. I actually believe that we should all have to requalify for our licenses every 10 years or so.

Over there, if you just have a learner’s permit, you have to put a giant “L” plate on the car you’re driving. Once you take some more tests, you get a “P” plate, which you must display as well. Licenses there are on a demerit system. You screw up, you lose points. You screw up bad, you lose your license. Simple stuff, really. Well, they’re now debating a change in the law that would give P-platers a single demerit. One screw up and—HA! HA!—WALK to the mall, motherfucker!

Yep, the Aussies sure seem to have a better perspective on driving than we do. Of course, they drive on the other side of the street.

1 comment:

hokgardner said...

Forget not stopping in the middle of a busy mall or at the top of the escalator, my current peeve is kids whose parents haven't taught them not to knock people over on crowded staircases. I'm not even asking for the courtesy due me as an ADULT, but just to make it down the stairs injury-free. Of course, the place I was at was filled with Westlake moms and kids, so we all know those kids are entitled to run up and down stairs willy-nilly. It was my fault for being in their precious little way. humph.