Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pet Peeves

Should children witness childbirth?

Due to a power outage, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very, very dark, so the paramedic asked Kathleen, a 3-year-old girl, to hold a flashlight high over her Mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby. Very diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked.

Heidi pushed and pushed, and after a little while Connor was born. The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom. Connor began to cry.

The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-year old what she thought about what she had just witnessed.

Kathleen quickly responded, "He shouldn't have crawled in there in the first place......... smack his ass again!"

When I got that joke, it resonated with me. I remember once, I was staying at the friend of a friend’s place. Less than two hours after arriving and meeting her for the first time, the hostess offered to show us the video of her child’s birth.

I would rather scrub vomit off the toilet in a bus station.

Since then, I’ve ranked offers to watch women give birth on video on my top 10 list of pet peeves.

Not that I really have a list, per se. I just know when I see something that rankles me that it’s one of my pet peeves.

The other day I was driving into the city, and I remembered another pet peeves. Crosswalks.

Okay, before all the pedestrians have a coronary, I used to be a true pedestrian. I walked to and from work every single day. I would walk to the malls, although it took me an hour each direction. I was just an avid walker.

But the way that the crosswalks are set up bothers me, and so do the laws that go with them.

We have controlled and uncontrolled crosswalks here. Some, you press a button and a light goes on instantly and people just walk right out. Others, there’s no light, and people walk out as well, hoping people clue in and stop.

I hate the second kind of crosswalk completely. But I have an issue with the first as well.

Why? Because there should be a warning delay. We have warning lights that alert drivers that the light at the intersection ahead is about to change to red. But when someone wants to walk out in front of moving vehicles that can splatter their bodies in bits all over the pavement, there’s no warning.

Really, it isn’t safe for the drivers or for the pedestrians.

What also bothers me about this is that the new generation of kids growing up has the mentality if they point and walk out, the traffic has to stop for them, and they do it without looking to see if the traffic CAN stop for them in time.

I was driving along the Trans Canada highway when I was stewing about this. One would think highways would be exempt from such ridiculous systems, but no. Not here.

And the city council is too cheap to build walk-overs or walk-unders that could save lives.

So instead, they spend money sending firefighters, police and paramedics out to scrape the latest human pancake off the road. What’s another dead pedestrian?

What’s another dented car with a traumatized driver?

Truth is, a lot of drivers don’t pay enough attention. But neither do a lot of pedestrians.

I have my own experience on the subject, because I was hit by a car at the age of 8. Now, I was hit while riding a bike, but it still counts.

Because bicyclists on the road are another one of my pet peeves.

But I’ll resume the story.

I was following my sister home. Riding right on the edge of the road like I’d been taught. There was traffic in both directions because it was shift change time at the Muskoka Center, down the road from where I lived.

A gentleman decided he would try to pass anyway. If he’d been driving a VW Rabbit it wouldn’t have been a problem.

But he was elderly, and he was driving a boat.

To make matters worse, it was his eightieth birthday, and he’d just gone to town to pick up his birthday cake, which was on the front seat.

Until he rammed into the back of me and I flew through the air in perfect synchronization with his cake, which sailed off the front seat. We did our spins and turns and both landed on our heads. My neighbours went to his place for birthday dinner. They said the cake didn't look quite right...

My white t-shirt was blood-soaked by the time I wobbled to my feet. You know what I remember most about that moment?

The asshole who got out of his car and picked up my bike and threw it in the ditch and walked away. Never underestimate the lack of willingness of some people to do the right thing. I mean, so sorry I was blocking traffic for you, buddy.

The other thing I remember was my dad blaming me for the accident. I felt so vindicated when I studied for my license to learn that the law was that bicyclists are entitled to one full lane in passing.

But here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter what the law is. It doesn’t matter what’s right. What matters is that I'm pretty lucky I wasn't dead after that.

Any idiot – whether they’re punk kids street racing that don't have enough time to stop or lose control and plow into people, or one that thinks that driving around with a ‘baby on board’ sign swinging wildly in the back window gives them a free pass on paying attention, or one that thinks they can hold their liquor - can run into you and take your life away in the blink of an eye. (I don’t mean to pick on 99% of parents. Just the few that make everyone else look bad.)

Now, I’ve also been hit by a drunk driver. Fortunately, he was one of those that moved slooooooowwwwwwly when drunk, but that’s another story.

While thinking about my annoyance about how crosswalks are set up, I started to realize what’s really at the root of the problem.

Money, and indifference.

Governments are too cheap to invest upfront in building walk-overs and walk-unders, and they don’t even put the lights up at all marked crosswalks, which makes some exceptionally hard to see, even in average driving conditions.

And people are too lazy to fight for change.

We often tend to wait until something affects us before we’re willing to take action on it. It’s human nature, I suppose.

This was on my mind yesterday, when evilkev told me the local town council wants to slash the fire department's annual budget.

Know how much it cost to have a fire department here last year? Less than $30,000 Canadian dollars. They barely pay the firefighters - likely works out to about a 50 cents per hour for all the time they put in. And the town uses the fire station, so they waste gas and electricity and supplies that come out of the fire department's budget.

But they still want the department to spend less.

So the chief said that the next time one of their houses caught fire, the department had a way to save some money...

I told evilkev that they'd better believe that if slashing the budget caused my home to burn down, I would sue the town's ass off. And you better believe that if they don't change their tune, I'll be having a few things to say to them at a town meeting.

Plus writing a letter to the editor...

Kevin always thinks I overreact about stuff like that. But I disagree. Every time he goes out the door to a call, it could be the last time I see him, and I don't need some small-town shitheads on the local council who've been there longer than I've been alive deciding that they're going to jeopardize lives because they want to save a few bucks.

Plus they increased my property taxes a lot last year. And they re-paved a bunch of streets in town and poured new sidewalks. So don't tell me they don't have the money.

I’d better stop this before it turns into a political ramble about my failure to understand why governments tend to be reactive instead of proactive.

But I did learn something from my musing on my pet peeves. What I thought was the root of my annoyance was, in fact, just the byproduct of my real issue.

Of course, I could go into great length about my feeling that all bike couriers that disregard the rules of the road should be fair game and people shouldn’t care if they get creamed, except for the car damage… Man, I hated it when I worked downtown. I know everyone wants to penalize people who drive downtown, but that’s where the office and supplies were, and then I had to drive out to the quadrants of the city and visit clients, and so I needed a vehicle to get there on time, and to cart the training equipment around.

And I do have a real problem with the fact that bicyclists follow both pedestrian and vehicle laws whenever one suits them better.

And since, as a pedestrian, I was run over by a bicyclist once, I feel I have a right to gripe.

You’re probably seriously doubting my assertions by now. Believe me, I wish I was lying. I’m one of the most accident-prone people you’ll ever encounter and the only thing that surprises me is that I wasn’t run over by a runaway camel when I was in the Sahara.

But when that bicyclist hit me, my head struck pavement* and I was knocked unconscious. That hurt.

So I’m scared of walking, scared of riding a bike, and as a driver wary of both bicyclists and pedestrians.

Not to mention the other drivers. Don’t even get me started on my pet peeves with them.

Truth is, we can find fault with almost everybody, can't we?

But if you’ve got some pet peeves, I’d love to hear them. I usually find people’s pet peeves are born out of common sense, and the failure on someone’s part to acquire and demonstrate any.

And in true Sandrablabber fashion, another joke. Because it’s been pretty serious around here lately! And tomorrow I’ll be back with the Friday Funnies.

All of his life George from Caribou, ME, had heard stories of an amazing family tradition. It seems that his father, grandfather and great- grandfather had all been able to walk on water on their 21st birthday. On that day, they'd walk across the lake to the boat club for their first legal drink.

So when George's 21st birthday came around, he and his pal Corky took a boat out to the middle of the lake. George stepped out of the boat and nearly drowned! Corky just managed to pull him to safety.

Furious and confused, George went to see his grandmother.

"Grandma, it's my 21st birthday, so why can't I walk across the lake like my father, his father, and his father before him?"

Granny looked into George's eyes and said, "Because, you dumb ass, your father, grandfather and great grandfather were all born in January and you were born in July."

And don't forget to visit John Rickards for some Hardboiled Jesus. If you were ever wondering why he's going to hell...


JamesO said...

Vent that Spleen, Sandra - it's far better out than in.

Not so much a pet peeve as an observation concerning crossings (as we call them over here, or to give them their full title Zebra Crossings and Pelican Crossings - don't ask why). Have you noticed how mothers with pushchairs test the traffic with them before crossing? That's your kid there - your future, what you've invested all your life in creating - and you just push it out into the flow of traffic?

I think it was Heathcote Williams who said something along the lines of 'Kill a man with a car fender and you'll get sent down for murder. Make sure it's still attached to the car at the time and you'll get a fine and a driving ban.' We have an odd attitude towards the car.

But it's hard to imagine living without one, unless you live in an urban environment.

Bernita said...

Can't agree with you about pedestrian over/under passes and stuff, Sandra.
More tax-payer money to protect us from our own stupidity. More nanny, hand-holding. Then there will be the inevitable cries about muggings in tunnels or screams for a barrier to prevent suicides from the over heads/ or heaving rocks over on cars below.Etc.
Stupidity is alarmingly ingenious.
Agree with you, though, about "Baby on board" - where do some parents get off tying babies to boards?

Trace said...

Yanno, I feel really inadequate about the size of my posts whenever I come here!

Christa M. Miller said...

Pet peeves... you touched on it a bit, but I'd have to say the sense of entitlement pervading most of today's youth. It allows them to bang on bathroom doors until you come out, call their teachers morons and worse, and bully/abuse/kill each other when they don't get their way.

Other pet peeves: office politics. Life is too short to get caught up in stupid petty crap. On a more local level, I hate the way people think a dirt road will somehow protect them from harm. I am thinking of reporting a daycare provider who routinely drives our dirt roads with no seats, much less carseats, in her minivan. Guess who she just lost business from? :P

Now I feel better! ;)

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yeah, the stroller thing baffles me James. I've seen that.

And Bernita, you're right about underpasses. There was one near where I lived in BC, and I seldom used it.

But overpasses are easier to build from an existing road perspective and safe.

Christa, I'd report that woman in a heartbeat!!!

Trace, I'm just a big blabberhead. But size doesn't matter, so the boys keep telling me.

Anonymous said...

1. Children do not need to witness child birth. Any new age Earth mama who pops in a video to show the neighbor needs a macrobiotic entree to the head.

2. Pedestrian vs. car. Car wins 10 out 10 times. Important to remember when the pedestrian is otherwise "right."

Sandra Ruttan said...

And I should add that one of the things I didn't emphasize here about crosswalks is all this talk about global warming and pollution, then we put impediments out there that slow traffic and cause congestion so more people spend more time in cars burning feul...

Why doesn't Kyoto cover costs to rectify that? Better and safer for everyone?

Boy Kim said...

Trust me, Oh Trace-alicious One, when I say you have absolutely no reason to feel inadequate about anything about you.

(I have to say that "posts" is a unusual nickname for them, though.)

More (with reference to The B-head's blog) later. Possibly.

Boy Kim said...

Is the "pavement*" footnote invisible only on my screen?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh boy. Where is that Kim? I know I meant to reference it because it was something I expected you to twist into some smart-arsed comment...

Erik Ivan James said...

Sandra, oh Sandra, welcome back!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Where did I go? I'm so confused...

M. G. Tarquini said...

Sandra? Could you give me a synopsis of today's post?

*ducks and runs*

Okay, crosswalks bad, pedestrians good, old people driving boats bad, not enough money for fire companies, don't show Sandra the birthing have I missed anything?

*ducks and runs some more*

Sandra Ruttan said...


Geez Mindy, aren't you paying attention?

E. Ann Bardawill said...

Hey, I didn't want to watch childbirth when *I* was grown up AND *giving* birth.

Aaaah. Epidurals.
The "wake me when it's all over shot".

Boy Kim said...

Oh sandra! That Kim is right here honey.

And what? You want me to count the paragraphs? I'm not sure I can count that far - there's an awful lot of them.

Pssst... it's the 12th paragraph up from the bottom. As opposed to down from the bottom. Which is not possible. 'Cos we all know you get down from ducks. But only if the're taller than you. Obviously.

And now, sit up straight and pay attention children (especially Master James) because today's lesson is How British Road Crossings Got Their Names.

Zebra Crossing - because it's black and white and striped, presumably. DUH!

Pelican Crossing - pedestrian light-controlled. They changed the o to an a to create a "cute pseudo-acronym" (shouldn't that be a pseudonym then?) in "deference to the bird", continuing the improbable use of animal symbols which, by the way, began in 1951 with the aforementioned Zebra Crossing.

Puffin Crossing - pedestrian user-friendly intelligent. Uses infrared cameras to do all sorts of clever stuff like extend the length of time on red so oldies and disabled people don't get mown down un-necessarily. Also uses heat sensors to tell if pedestrians are waiting on the pavement to cross (as opposed to what? Groups of random women just stood there gassing?) and can *gasp* even override the red light when the slow-arses crossing have reached safety.

Toucan Crossing - "two can" cross. Such named because cyclists (ok, who booed?) are allowed to ride across.

Pegasus crossing - used primarily outside race courses and/or areas where horses are trained and makes special provision for our equine friends. What a lovely idea.

Class dismissed.

(My thanks to the sweet people at for most of the information above.)

Sandra Ruttan said...

Darlin' I feel like my backblog should be the front blog some days!


But this being Canada, you forgot to explain Moose Crossing and Bear Crossing...

Kate said...

In this town, instead of putting in a pedestrian crossing, they put up a sign for pedestrians to read. It says:


Signs are cheap. Also, the policy seems to be to only put a pedestrian crossing in after there's been a human sacrifice.

Sandra Ruttan said...

That's nutso!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Just sometimes the backblog is more interesting!

M. G. Tarquini said...

Darlin' I feel like my backblog should be the front blog some days!

Au contraire, m'ami, your front blog is plenty long.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Pet peeves...LOL...tell me what you really think??? LOL

The jokes were great!

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Ick. Childbirth videos. Ick. Ick. Ick.