Tuesday, October 11, 2005

From: Snook (The Elder) at Home

I saw a fellow on a bicycle this morning, making a left turn on a relatively heavily trafficked street, who, in addition to holding his arm outstretched to indicate the direction in which he was going, opened and shut his hand repeatedly to simulate the blink of a car's turn signal. Now it could be that this is what's done now, and is not, as I suspect it is in fact, the sort of embellishment by way of precaution typical of your average pedant. (I was, after all, in the very heart of the U of T campus, next Robarts library—where I get the impression such men grow out of the lawns like potatoes.) But if it is, it really shouldn't be ... If it is what's done now, I mean. Apart from looking ridiculous, it's just not necessary. Indeed it runs quite contrary to reason.

A car's turn signal blinks to distinguish it from the various other lights on its rear panel that are likely to be employed on your average drive. (And which don't blink themselves, obviously.) Namely: the rear running lights and the brake lights. Without these, a turn signal shouldn't need to blink even the once, as it would stand out rather obviously on an otherwise conspicuously unlit background ... Cyclists, however, have no such concern. And thus they don't hold out both their arms when coming to a stop—which, of course, is for the best, as they wouldn't likely be coming to a stop if they did. Nor do they hold aloft their elbows at nighttime to light their way through the darkened city streets.

(But was this, I wonder, a case of life imitating appliances? Will this sort of thing provide the great philosophical dilemmas for the bourgeoisie of our age?)

An arm sticking out perpendicularly from a man, already precariously balanced on a vehicle with just the two wheels, remains to be and, I dare say, will always be what's termed blatantly obvious. The pumping action of the hand is as unnecessary as a pair of nipples on a telephone pole. (But which I wouldn't be surprised to see in that part of the city as well, come to think of it.)