Take the time to use the intersection

Dec 6 • Bruce Uncorked, Feature StoryNo Comments on Take the time to use the intersection

What’s up with pedestrians who jaywalk across St. Clair Street in Chatham a stone’s throw from the nearest lighted intersection?

Take the extra steps, press the crossing button, and use the traffic light to your advantage.

Drivers along St. Clair aren’t all inclined to slow down or move out of the way for your illegal trek across the road. Some are pretty inattentive at the best of times.

For that matter, what’s up with the brave people who ride their bikes on St. Clair Street? You have more guts than I do, and I hope we don’t see those guts out on the roadway if you’re hit by a car.

C-K drivers scare me to the point there is no way I’d ride a bike on St. Clair. The sidewalk? Sure, although that’s illegal.

But I’d likely take an alternate route, such as Victoria Avenue, as it has bike lanes, and drivers along that route don’t seem to be in quite the distracted hurry that the folks cruising along St. Clair are.

As for E-bike riders, they do slow down traffic as these bikes just don’t have much in the way of top speed. But at least they have better lighting than what most cyclists around town seem to utilize.

Turning lane? What turning lane?

One of my biggest pet peeves (aside from the Chatham Left) while driving is when someone doesn’t take advantage of a left-turn lane. Many of our busiest roadways, such as Keil Drive and St. Clair Street, have left-turn lanes along long stretches, to move cars over and out of the traffic lanes.

These help with traffic flow and lessen the likelihood someone turning left is rear ended.

Yet you can throw all that out the driver’s side window when someone opts to sit in the left lane and turn left, ignoring the turn lane that’s right beside them!

Use the turn lane, please. I beg you. You’ll help keep my blood pressure in check.

And then there are the people who abuse that turn lane – the ones who get into it a half a block before they need to turn. Some do it to bypass vehicles stopped at a traffic light. Others don’t seem to know any better.

Both receive rude awakenings when someone pulls into the turning lane while heading in the opposite direction, intending to turn left in short order. Both vehicles wind up unable to complete their turns until one of them moves back into traffic and around the other vehicle.

In other words, use the left-turn lane, but don’t abuse it. Get into the lane at a reasonable distance before you need to turn – not too early, or not at the last second (you’ll interrupt traffic flow, which is what the lanes are designed to avoid).

Abuse of the English language

Few things have mangled the English language as effectively as texting, but it seems outright laziness – as in not caring enough to say or write things properly – is the worst offender.

Here are some of the biggest ones that I hear and inwardly cringe:

“Let me axe you a question.” What, are you trying to chop a query in half? It’s “ask.” Say it slowly, say it over and over again until you get it right!

“I got mines.” You have precious metal sources below ground? Sadly, “mine” is made possessive by some to become “mine’s.” That makes zero sense because “mine” is already possessive.

“Supposebly, we were to be home by 11 p.m.” It is “supposedly,” people! With a “D.” Go to the mirror and say it properly, repeating it until you get it right.

As for the written word, the misuse of words can leave me reaching for a drink.

“I’m better then you at this.” When did you get better? Then? Huh?

It’s “than,” not “then.” Then speaks of time; than is a comparative.

“There music rocks!” What, the music over where? There? Now, if you are talking about the performers, it’s “their.”

The there/their/they’re confusion really isn’t confusing. One is a conjunction of “they are” (they’re), one refers to a location (there) and one is a possessive (their).

How can our school systems pump people out with such poor and incorrect grammar? It’s one thing to misspeak periodically (guilty as charged), or verbally mangle a word here and there (again, guilty as charged), but repeated misuse of words is a sign of grammatic indifference.

Now, if someone mispronounces a word, just politely correct them, as that’s usually a sign they’ve read it and are now adding it to their vocabulary. Kudos on reading!

Attack the issue, not the person

The online community, be it social media or video gaming, is a constant disappointment. People seem to feel that hiding behind a screen name gives them the ability to say or type anything they like, without fear of repercussions. Talk about ignorant.

You can’t hide. If you commit a hate crime online, the powers that be can track you down. If you use a racial epithet, you’ll get reported and probably banned from whichever online communication program or vehicle you are using.

But what’s possibly worse than the trolls who comment in this manner are the web designers who didn’t think it would happen.

I was the managing editor of the local daily newspaper, working for Osprey Media a decade ago when, at an editors’ conference, the web-smart, communications-ignorant tech folks rolled out the new websites, complete with unfiltered commenting. Many of the managing editors worried about what people would post in the comments following the story if left unchecked, and with the ability for commenters to hide behind screen names. But the web designers won out and the websites went live.

It seemed most everyone in the company – aside from the editorial departments – were surprised when the comments quickly turned ugly, with a slew of personal attacks against other commenters, or subjects in the story.

To say the commenting was bad would be a gross understatement. There were times when comment strings got turned off one article, but the trolls continued their tirades on other unrelated stories.

Giving trolls some perceived anonymity online is akin to dipping a toe into a pond of hungry piranhas.

Local municipal officials and councillors, often on the receiving end of the troll babble, derided the negativity. It led some folks to consider C-K as an especially negative community. But we paled in comparison to our neighbours to the south, Windsor. Online commenting on news stories there made our trolls look like sparkle-covered stuffed unicorns.

You’ll notice many a news website had since disabled commenting. It wasn’t just here in C-K.

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