• Burr Morse: Tryin’ to get around
    November 26,2012

    I just returned from Montpelier and noticed, days after The Event, that most of those cussed political signs have departed from the landscape. Seems to me a sad commentary on humanity that they’d go up in the first place... gol-derned landfill fodder that they are! Folks ought to know better, especially folks feeling qualified to be our leaders! There’s no place where the things are more glaring than major intersections, places where motorists need to dedicate full attention on their driving like, say, roundabouts. Roundabouts are relatively new here in Vermont and, mind you, I’m not putting them down. Besides being prime real estate for those awful signs, they serve a wonderful purpose but you got to know how to drive them. Although they’re far from rocket science, there remain a few folks yet to go “full circle” with their understanding of these traffic cure-alls with a curve. For one thing, roundabouts are “bipolar” in personality... in stage one, perfect courtesy is required yet stage two demands total disrespect. In other words, wait your turn to get in but once you’re in don’t stop for anything (unless, of course, it has crosswalks like our neurotic neighborhood roundabout does).

    Most “roundabout trauma” is caused by one or the other of these “personality” quirks. Many times I’ve been thoroughly flustered by following the rules and entering a roundabout only to have some motorist in front of me stop “midstream” to let someone in. That, of course, is a no-no... while in a roundabout, you’re the king... there’s no one more important than you! I got lulled with this sense of importance a while ago when someone broke the “entering” rule. It so happened that a Vermont state trooper (sans blue light on and not in “emergency mode”) and I were cruisin’ through Montpelier that day and we both came to the roundabout at about the same time. I had just entered from Spring Street and he was entering from Main Street. I was already in the circle so I had the right of way. My “king of the road” attitude was locked in. The only problem was that the trooper violated the “yield” sign and barged in front of me, almost causing a collision! Impulsively I laid on my horn with one hand and shook my fist with the other, two common responses for such a violation.

    We exited the roundabout together bumper to bumper and I brazenly tailgated him up Main Street hill. I was so appalled by this young man’s glaring lack of highway savvy that I considered flashing my lights and pulling him over a la “Gomer Pyle”... “Citizen’s ahRayest, citizen’s ahRayest!”... but thankfully regained my composure half way up the hill. “Let it go, Burr. Those guys are entitled to a mistake or two.” I thought.

    Needless to say, I’m a bit passionate about these “circular solutions” with an attitude and want them to work for everyone. Regarding those few who still have trouble driving them, I’ve thought of an analogy that might make it easier for them to understand. Here it is in my best “tech manual” language: Think of a roundabout as a vortex and a tub drain. As the tub empties, draining water forms a whirlpool or vortex. Particles of lint and body grime wait their turn to enter the vortex but once in, they go round and round in an unstoppable fashion until each finally exits down the drain.

    I sincerely hope this helps. After all, roundabouts have cost us a lot of money and can work for us well into the future. We need to honor them, however, with intelligence and respect, knowing fully that human nature has not evolved enough so the average person can both chew gum and ride a bicycle at the same time. Roundabouts are not places to distribute either your junk or cheap messages. And oh, regarding those political signs, I’m thinking of a different “vortex” where they belong... it starts in a porcelain stool and takes away awful stuff to a place never to be seen again.

    Burr Morse lives East Montpelier.

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