GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 24, 2013

Fishtown Local: Blinkers? Who needs blinkers?

Fishtown Local
Gordon Baird

---- — I wanted to spread the exciting news to everyone in Gloucester!

I actually, physically saw a driver on a Gloucester road use a blinker last week.

Or, wait . . . was that two weeks ago? Doesn’t matter. I actually saw someone use a blinker before they turned ahead of me.

I almost missed it because of the three cars that had barged in from the side roads right before that, of course, and hadn’t used their blinkers. Nor had the pickup, cab and DPW truck that had kept the mystery of their intentions a secret until they spun off the road ahead in a monolithic trio of surprise. Surprise, here we come, there we go, they seemed to say; now you see us, now you don’t.

Are Gloucester drivers worse than they were a decade ago? Clearly, yes, and there are some very specific reasons.

In the old days, it used to be that people just didn’t know the rules and everyone cut slack in good ‘ol Glosta driving. But nowadays, laziness has almost replaced stupidity as the leading cause of blinker freedom.

Some libertarians probably resent having to let others know of their intentions, but most are merely too lazy to pop their finger on the steering column that crucial three inches down to flip the lever. They simply can’t be bothered.

Is it because they feel, as driver, they are entitled to drop the silly blinker rule, because it’s all about them and you know, everyone forgives you in Gloucester for stupid driving. It’s kind of our national pastime. On the Gloucester end of Rt. 128, the drivers all sit in the left lane like a bunch of rolling slugs and, naturally, no one ever uses a blinker until you’re at least past Beverly.

But back here in town, it’s a complete free-for-all. The cops don’t care if you use a blinker, heck, half the cops don’t signal when they turn. Perhaps they don’t want to reveal their secret cruller eating destinations. The CATA buses, fish trucks and service vehicles aren’t any clearer with their intentions. UPS, Fed EX, CATA and big trucks all just put on their flashers when they want to make a turn. That covers just about everything. The scariest non-blinker turns in the city are when the folks turning to Rockport off the Eastern Ave 128 lights turn without the arrow or a blinker across the outrushing highway traffic. Surprise . . . just missed me!

The Internet also plays a part in our new driving abyss. Texters, talkers, smart phone dunces, App users, mobile barons & morons all feel entitled still to distract themselves into really stupid driving moves — all blinker free. Part of the brain goes dead when transacting, especially the blinker part.

Not using your blinker is also a form of asserting power, basically deciding which rules you want to follow and which you don’t. But are they selectively choosing not to blink or do people just not know the rules ? Are they more lazy or more stupid?

The answer to both is a resounding yes. They are lazier and stupider.

Oh pish posh, you say. After all, what does it really matter if the other drivers know what you’re doing, it’s your car, after all. They can watch out for you and you can watch out for them.

That’s fair — until, of course, it’s not and somebody guesses wrong and almost pops you in the process. Then they’ll be as angry and righteous about their rights to the road as they are committed to not abiding by them.

People, fight for your right to be stupid. The blinker rule doesn’t apply to you. Just everyone else that you’re trying to get around. Mommy and Daddy always taught that it’s all about you — you are the center of the universe — and if you don’t want to be bothered to use you blinker, well, then Mama’s little angel doesn’t have to. After all, the other drivers owe you a place of honor in every interaction at every intersection, so it’s up to them to drive responsibly.

Blinkers are for suckers, do-gooder’s and sissies. There’s no place for them here in Fishtown.

So I say, keep up the good work, you Glosta drivers. And remember, when you come face-to-face with your maker, don’t blink . . .

Gordon Baird is a local actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine, and producer of the community access TV show “Gloucester Chicken Shack.”