It's Flag Day as I write this on June 14, and I snuck outside in my jammies to hoist Old Glory on the front porch.
It feels like early spring at 51 degrees and, for a moment, I thought I saw snowflakes. Alas, they were just pods of dandelion seed fluff.
I've been reflecting on what it will be like to turn 74 tomorrow, on the 15th, and I don't expect it will be much different from any other day except for family and friends who will stop by for cake and ice cream and good wishes. I feel surrounded and protected by the white light of love and, believe me, I'm grateful. The daily walks have been going well, and there's hope I can waste away to a ton-and-a-half by the end of summer.
I try to be positive, but occasionally I find it necessary to call attention to things that bug me. Inattentive drivers fall into that category. While walking each morning, I have time to drink in our neighborhood ambiance and acknowledge motorists who give me the old "beep" and wave on the way by. I also watch what seems to be declining attention to state driving laws.
Up front, I want it known that I have my faults on the highway. Thank goodness for Kaye, who gives me an extra pair of eyes to watch out for danger — especially at intersections. While driving and walking, I see flagrant disregard for the law at stop signs and red lights to the point where I feel compelled to beg for compliance.
In particular, I have been conducting another of my infamous Gordie Little informal surveys as I walk east on Route 22B in Morrisonville and turn left onto the Banker Road each morning. I have been counting the vehicles coming to a complete stop before driving out onto Route 22B and am sad to report that less than 5 percent adhere to the letter of the law, yielding the right-of-way to vehicles and pedestrians and only entering the intersection when it is safe to do so.
Most drivers slow down and come to what I call a "rolling stop" before pulling out. Some don't slow down at all and breeze past the stop sign at 20 mph or more. And we wonder why there are so many crashes at area intersections.
Why have we become so slovenly in our driving habits? I discussed it with Kaye and traced it back to the days when I got my driver's license long ago in another century. Most cars had standard shift without synchromesh transmissions, and drivers had to stop completely before shifting back into first gear. The advent of automatic transmissions was no doubt a factor in leading to disregard for the law.
My friend Les Bradford taught the AARP Driver's Safety Programs in this area for many years. He and I have often discussed the fine points of safe driving. When I told him of my topic for this column, he hopped onto his soapbox and sounded off big time. He said, "In my classes I would ask for those who stop at stop signs to raise their hands. Generally, 99 percent of the class of 30 would raise their hands. I would then repeat the question, emphasizing the STOP part of stop signs. Less hands would be showing. Then, I'd tell them this was a place where they could be honest and would ask how many with raised hands really do stop completely at stop signs. I'd end up with maybe 10 to 15 liars with their hands still in the air."
That's a frightening statistic. Les spoke of a dear friend riding with him who remarked, "My God. You actually stop at stop signs!" That's a good lesson for all of us, not just drivers over the age of 50 in AARP. My observations suggest that flagrant disregard for the law transcends gender and age. It's a sad commentary on people who feel they are above this kind of regulation. Police agencies can't be everywhere to issue tickets. It's up to each of us to police ourselves.
I'll continue to come to a complete stop and promise not to pull out into your path. I hope you will do the same.
Have a great day and PLEASE, drive carefully.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the "Our Little Corner" television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at email@example.com.