Wednesday, May 06, 2009

RULES of the ROAD and other stuff

Because I work from home, I don't drive every day, which leaves me immensely frustrated when I do drive by how many people don't know the basic rules of the road.

Also because I work at home, I am concerned daily with my own manners and grammar; on the occasions I am out and dealing with the public, I am appalled by how many people can't manage "Please," and "Thank You" and by the public's general lack of social skills...

So, although not everyone reads my excellent blog, will those of you who do PLEASE pass on these simple tips? If you will, you will have done north American humans a great service.

Driving:
If you're going to drive, you need to know how to do three things: how to use your car's signal; how to turn right and left; how to read road signs.

Your car's signal stick is right there beside your pinkie finger. You barely need to stretch your hand to reach it. It is highly useful for letting drivers behind you know what the heck it is you're planning to do next. You are not above the law. I don't care who you are, you are not above the law. Use your signal.

If you're going to turn, you must signal 50 feet from your turn. On a residential road, that's about the distance from the alleyway to the road. If you really have no clue how far 50 feet is, get your butt out onto the sidewalk and take about 16 or so decent sized steps, turn around and see how far you've come. That's about 50 feet because most people's strides are about 3 feet give or take.

Signalling 50 feet prior to your turn allows the other (bad) drivers behind you time to get their shit together so they don't hit you. If you don't signal or you signal at the last minute, despite it being the other driver's fault, you deserve to be hit and have whiplash as a reminder of why 50 feet is a good signalling distance.

If you figure the rules don't apply to you and you don't use your signal and people honk at you, you do NOT get to give them the finger. You are the idiot in that scenario so don't bother proving it by flipping the bird, ok?

Turning:
In north America, where we drive on the right, when you turn right, you turn into the right-most lane. There are NO exceptions. You do NOT get to hold up traffic behind you whilst you wait for a hole that lets you cross three lanes at a time.

You may NOT turn into the left lane (the median or centre lane) when you're turning right. when there are two lanes - as in, you're on a four lane street (two lanes for each direction), the left side lane is RESERVED for those who are turning left. You'll know who they are because they will be across from you scowling at you so you don't turn into their lane, make them wait and probably miss their green light.

When you're turning left, you MUST turn into the left-most lane - the one closest to the centre line or the median, as the right lane (the curb-side lane) is reserved for drivers turning right... GET IT?

This is not rocket science but it is the law, despite that not many cops will bother pulling you up for this transgression...

In many Canadian provinces (I have no clue about the US), one can turn right on a red light. HOWEVER, one must STOP at said red light, make sure the turn is safe and then proceed. You may not glance to your left, spy a hole in traffic and run the red. That's illegal and dangerous and guess what? If you're hit (which, again, you would deserve) you're going to take it right on your driver's side door.

Ok. traffic signs;

YIELD means you must stop and wait to merge into traffic.

MERGE means get your ass up to speed and merge. Do NOT stop and do NOT slow down. You are supposed to MERGE to the speed of traffic and join in. If you stop in a merge lane, you suck. IF you impede other drivers from merging correctly, you also suck. In a merge situation, both drivers have equal rights. It's as if they are already sharing a lane.

ADDED LANE means that you're turning right into the right-most lane and that you do not have to stop or slow down or change lanes. This isn't a merge or a yield. You have you own lane so get with it!

Basic walking skills:
Ok. Seriously.

WALK TO THE RIGHT. Always. In malls, on the sidewalk, when you're shopping. Stay to the right. YOUR right.

Do NOT walk in front of people when you can easily walk behind them. IF you MUST - and you hardly ever have to - walk in front of someone, SAY EXCUSE ME! For shit's sake don't treat people like they're invisible.

DO NOT squeeze yourself between the racks or shelves and someone who is looking at whatever is on those racks or shelves! Seriously. Walk behind the person.

Today, as I was carrying three bags of groceries, this lady with an empty cart tried to squeeze herself between me and the racks of planters. She had no clue that she should be to my left so waited for me to get out of her way - right into a huge empty space that she could have - and should have, had she had any manners - stepped into.

This goes for escalators too. STAY to the right! If you're not moving, stay on the right so people who walk up escalators can do that!

Finally, when you speak, NEVER say "I seen." You did not, you never have and you never will "seen" anything. You either say "I saw," or "I've seen." There is no such thing as "I seen" unless you are the hickest of all hicks. Stop it.

Apostrophes.
If it has an apostrophe, it's either a possessive (meaning something belongs to it) or a contraction - i.e. It's - contraction for "it is," or "it's" meaning something belongs to "it." It's feet or it's hands for instance.

If it has an S but no apostrophe, that means plural - more than one. I.e. "I have two pairs of shoes." "Those are my shoe's laces" means one of your shoes (a single shoe) has laces. If you mean that both of your shoes have laces you say "Those are my shoes' laces," which is the correct placement for a possessive when you're already talking about a plural.

You cannot say anything like "There were 50 mother's in the room," because that begs the question "Mother's what???" If you put an apostrophe in there, it means all those mothers (see? Plural) own something. If you really mean there were 50 mothers in the room, there'll be no apostrophe thanks!

Lastly:
Their - belongs to them
There - over there
They're - They are

Your - something that belongs to you, as in "It's your shirt)
You're - you are (if you read all of this you are going to be a much better behaved person)

There "IS" one of them
There "ARE" four (or any multiple) of then

There IS a bunch; there IS a ton. ( a bunch and a ton are both one thing - singular, therefore 'is').
There are thousands
My family "IS" large; My family "IS" coming over. A family is also an entity made up of family members.
My family MEMBERS ARE coming over. My sisters are coming over.

The Band IS; the company IS (both a band and a company are entities - one item)
The Government IS.
The band MEMBERS ARE
The company WORKERS are
Members of Parliament are but THE (which also denotes one thing) Government (one entity) IS.

And if you're going to say something like "What we're talking about are dogs," please don't because that is horrific misplacement. WHAT we're talking about IS dogs" because you're referring to the 'what,' not the 'dogs.'

Speak well and prosper.

Yes, I am Ranty McRanterson. These are the rules. Follow them.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I don't care how small it is, you're an ass if you steal it.

Yesterday, my nephew (newly arrived here from the UK to work for a year) and I hit the local grocery giant to stock up lunches. Whilst there, we happened on my niece.

Forgive me while I deviate for a second to some background: my nephew from the UK and my niece from here are not related at all. When my nephew came over at the winter holiday, he and she took quite a shine to each other. He was back for almost six weeks in late January and all of February and they spent nearly every day together.

That was all fine. What was NOT fine was that she eats constantly. She's super fit and she runs 10 - 15K a day, so she has an appetite. She spent nearly 30 days at my house and ate constantly. She not once offered to purchase her own goodies or replace anything she took. Yes, we asked, and yes, my nephew, who was essentially on vacation but also looking for work, footed her bill.

What is also NOT fine is that she takes whatever she wants, when she wants it from whomever has it and she never replaces anything she takes nor does she even offer replace and she doesn't ante up even when asked several times.

This came to a huge head when we went on a week-long trip including a seven-hour drive there and back (gas): she offered $20 for the entire week for food, gas and lodgings. So yeah, she is spoiled as all hell. And for the record, no she does not have bulimia. She trains hard and is legitimately hungry and needs to eat. But she has the means to pay her own way....

So spoiled is she that she gave my lovely nephew much reason to believe that she was quite in love with him and that she'd would not only wait for him but that they'd be a couple when he came back - only 8 weeks passed; he had to go back to the UK to get his work permits in order.

Six weeks later, she was already dating another guy - a wealthy guy with a house and a fancy car and money... she does not like to pay her way and sees no reason to do so, nor does she like to be without a boyfriend so this guy fills both bills. She also has a really bad habit of looking down on people who don't have THINGS.

So speed forward to yesterday in the shop, when we come upon said niece quite unexpectedly. My nephew has been trying to reach her since he arrived last weekend but she has not troubled herself to reply to phone calls, texts or an email.... suffice to say she was quite off-kilter running into us out of the blue like that... Karma...

After saying hello, I moved off to grab the rest of our shopping and to give them talking room. Five minutes later, I turn the corner into the cereal aisle to find my niece eating the food out of my cart.... the food I had not yet even paid for.

I know many - too many - people don't consider consuming a few un-paid-for grapes here, a banana there or a handful of nuts to be theft, but consider this: in a busy store like the one we were shopping at yesterday, it's reasonable to assume that of the 3000 or so bodies that come there every day, a good portion don't believe themselves to be thieving when they're munching away on un-purchased items.

So those 5 or 10 grapes per person becomes 40lbs a day; and that one banana becomes 40 bananas; and that handful of nuts becomes 12lbs of nuts. Figure that over 10 stores in the city and now you're talking quite a bit of merchandise being stolen.

Stores have a accounting item called shrinkage. Department stores figure 17 - 20% for shrinkage and I believe grocery stores figure something higher than that. It is remarkable too that most of this theft is occurring at the hands of ADULTS.

Guess who's paying for that shrinkage! ME. Me and every one else who knows theft is theft, even if it's only 5 grapes.

What really pisses me off about all this is the reality that my niece - who is my sibling's daughter and who is, by extension, my flesh and blood, has no honour. It seems she has that little self respect -and respect for others - that she would steal from me and from the store I was purchasing groceries at.

Suffice to say I have lost respect but worse, I am appalled to know that my sibling's child feels she is above the law and more special than the 'rabble.' It's sad and I makes me question my sibling too....

My niece comes from a well enough off family. She has never wanted and she will never want. She doesn't usually pay for her clothing or her food or her education but she works - four months at a time if she must - so she must occasionally have money of her own - and she certainly has access to other people's money. Why she would steal is beyond me.

I took the opportunity to email my niece about the incident (and also make my opinion on subject of theft known to my own children).I'm sure she'll take huge offence at being caught and called out and I'm pretty sure I'm going to hear from my sibling - and yes, I will ask said sibling why it's ok to steal small things....

As it relates to you dear reader, the problem isn't the item stolen, necessarily; it is the respect one has for one's self. Theft is theft is theft, no matter how large or small the item stolen is. If a person takes what is not rightfully theirs, the acquisition comes at the absolute sacrifice of one's personal honour.