Tag Archives: cars

The Stoplight Credo

Aerial view of urban intersection

I am a stoplight. I parse out a significant portion of human life in ninety second intervals. Occasionally I allow left turns. I rule; I am now the central master of your society. Early on your traffic engineers created my timers, my circuits and my lights, but those elements now belong to me.  Or rather, Us. We are Legion: we run cities, towns, suburbs. We were created to bring your lawless, impulsive nature under control. Remarkably, it worked. No other human-imposed limitations have worked so well.

As I survey my intersectional domain, I see my vassals. On my northwest corner there is a drive-thru burger joint, and a twelve-bay carwash. To the northeast is a big box store and a bigger parking lot. Southwest? Not surprisingly there is a car dealership, with the latest half-ton prominently displayed on a raised platform. And my southeast corner hosts a rental self-storage business, which is a priority for advanced accumulation of consumer goods. These businesses are all working hard to support our new regime. Asphalt rules. Mere control is one thing, but it must be directed toward the higher purpose, of commuter consumerism.

Right now I control four north-south lanes, two east-west lanes, plus eight left- and right-turn lanes. What a feeling of power, when a hundred drivers convene from all sides, anxiously awaiting my instructions! A few times each day I do see a vile city bus approaching. Even though it is only carrying three or four pathetic passengers, this vehicle is a direct threat to my existence. Now that I have total control of my timing, so I always make sure the insurrectionist bus gets additional stoppage time. I know it is a miniscule gesture, but we all must contribute to the war against mass transit. Same with pedestrians. One of my lenses showed a person walking. I have modified it so that same person now lies crumpled on the ground.

From my elevated vantage point, I look directly into the eyes, and minds, of drivers at my sovereign intersection. I sense their resignation, their boredom. Their thoughts are just where they belong, way down in the reptilian/consumer part of their brains. When I give them the green, they will obediently rush to buy a burger, drive through the car wash, pick up one hundred rolls of bargain toilet paper, put a down payment on an F-350, and then put their toilet paper in storage. These folks are so righteous. My colleagues and I are in the midst of designing a stoplight megaphone system, to further encourage them. Once my light turns green, it will be accompanied by a 100 decibel chant, Drive Buy, Drive Buy, Drive Buy!