Common Sense 1A

Give Ross the finger at [email protected]

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I ride a bike. I run red lights. I have been hit by a car twice (in two days). I don't wear a helmet. The only bikes I rode before coming to Berkeley were mountain bikes. I thought road bikes were for wusses. When I would ride off-road, along the American River in Sacramento, I always wore a helmet. It was ugly. It was big. It was dumb. I hated it. That being said, put whatever slant you would like on the following.

I have noticed many things since my arrival at Berkeley, but nothing has disgusted me more than the lack of common sense exhibited by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Basically, everyone pisses me off in his or her own special way. When I jaywalk, the idiots behind me decide to walk as well. Why? Duh, because if I am walking, then it must be safe for them as well. I try to contain my laughter as these people are honked at and nearly run over by impatient drivers.

The other week, I saw a lady with her groceries start walking across Telegraph (without looking up at all) while the light was still yellow. Her fruits and vegetables were promptly strewn along the gutter as a Ford Expedition cut it a little too close.

Mind you, cyclists are also guilty of such heinous crimes. While driving down Haste, I damn near killed a cyclist who thought it would be a good idea to cross the intersection as slowly as possible. I know you have other gears, man. As I laid on the horn, at least half of the pedestrians (also crossing in front of me, apparently inspired by previous recipients of the Darwin Award) gave me the finger. Not funny, guys. Next time we meet, do you want to see just how close I can get without hitting you? Shut up and put the apple on your head ...

The worst part is that it is not just the actions of these people that bother me. The reasoning and skewed logic involved is just ludicrous. One day, in my most loathed class, a question was raised asking why we stop at stop signs. One student answered, and I thought in jest, that it was "due to fear of the man. That society has conditioned us to stop." The rest of the class smiled and nodded in agreement. Are you people serious? How about: We stop because we don't want to continually collide with other people, which may result in death. How about: Stop signs and street lights help everyone get to wherever they are going in a reasonable amount of time.

In light of these atrocities, I propose the following: for all students and residents of Berkeley, there will be a new, mandatory course. This course shall be called Common Sense 1A. Residents who fail will be relocated to rural Pennsylvania. Wagons are easier to dodge than cars. Students who fail will be automatically transferred to UC Santa Cruz. Good luck finding a job with no GPA.

The course will consist of three parts.

1) Pedestrians: "When to Jaywalk" and "The Top 10 Reasons Not to Follow the Guy in Front of You"

2) Cyclists: "How to Run Red Lights Without Pissing People Off" and "What to Tell the Police When You Get Caught" (i.e. "I'm stressing about mid-terms." Or, "I was thinking about how lame the former members of the twLF are."

3) Motorists: "How to Cope with Jaywalkers and Slow Cyclists"

All exams will be practical, and perhaps life-threatening. To those who pass the course, congratulations! You may now move freely about the city.

Anyone who fails the pedestrian section must spend an entire week with a blind person who owns a guide dog. Hopefully, you will learn something from the dog. If an animal with significantly less brain power than yourself can succeed where you have failed, good luck passing that math class. I have never seen a guide dog jaywalk in front of me and give me the finger while I honk at him.

People who fail the cyclist section will be forced to wear a hot pink helmet with bright yellow dots while they ride their bike. That way, when you attempt to run a red light, a police officer will surely see you, and write you a ticket. Meanwhile, passersby will point and laugh.

There are three ways in which you may fail the driving test. The first is by running red lights without noticing the cops and other vehicles. This issue resolves itself. Good luck paying for gas when you see the cost of the ticket.

The second way to fail is by rolling through stop signs. Sorry, Southern Californians, but we do have laws up here. For this type of failure, the solution will make the transgressors feel more at home, while still addressing the issue. The make, model and license number of your car will be given to all convicted carjackers in the East Bay. You will be required to display a bumper sticker that, "Driver carries no less than $500 in cash."

The final way to fail this section is by swerving toward, or failing to honk at, irresponsibly jaywalking pedestrians. Those who fail in this manner will be given two choices. The first choice is a one-month visit to the Los Angeles suburb of your choice. However, you will have no car. The second choice is to trade in your car for a moped. You will be as vulnerable as a cyclist, while moving slower than a pedestrian.

All that I'm trying to say is that there is nothing more valuable than common sense. There is no reason that students who will presumably become productive members of society shouldn't be able to cross the street without evoking rage in others. Consider it your civic duty.


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