Getting clear

One thing is clear, there’s nothing clear about getting clear. To me, getting clear seems like what polite, competent people do when they’ve got something to accomplish. But not getting clear can also get things done.

I do have a general ethic of getting clear. Let me illustrate with the relatively simple example of driving. When I get to an intersection, I make a point of getting clear beforehand on which way I’m going. I then get clear of the intersection as quickly and efficiently as I can. This is courteous because if I’m dawdling in the intersection, I may be blocking someone who needs to use it to get where they’re going. It’s competent because the purpose of intersections is to manage traffic flows, so flowing is the specific competence they require.

Similarly, when I have a turn to make I get on with it briskly. I get clear of the road I was on as smoothly and efficiently as I can because that’s the competence associated with turning, and because others using the road I’m vacating would like to maintain their momentum and progress as much as possible. When someone ahead of me has not gotten clear on the purpose of roads, which is to transit from one place to another as briskly and efficiently as possible, I pass them. The competence of passing is to go from being behind to being in front with no unnecessary delay or inconvenience to anyone else on the road, including the passee. Accordingly, once I’ve made the decision to pass I get on with it and get clear.

On multilane roads there may or may not be opportunities to get and stay clear. A lot of traffic makes for a pretty tricky interpretive environment. I like to be clearly in view to my roadmates, to get them clear to me, and to get clear of their sudden failures to be clear on the competence of lanes. It is both courteous and competent to get clear on the concept of blind spots and following distances.

All of this getting clear on the roads has the general effect of both clarifying my relationship with and minimizing my impact on the situation and other people in it. I’m doing what’s clearly the point of the situation and getting clear of – and as – any inconvenient obstruction or entanglement. So I think getting clear is good.

However, obstructing and entangling are in fact ways of controlling the roadways. Intersection and turn dawdlers require everyone else on the road to modify their speed and progress to pay attention to what they’re doing. Speed limit ignorers likewise. Drivers who are unclear on blind spots and following distances control the space they are in by brute existential force. Drivers beside and in front must drive not just for themselves but for the encroacher, since clearly any effective avoidance of collision will not be coming from them.

In short, not getting clear is actually an excellent strategy for getting things to go your way – if you happen to be heavy enough to force others to pay attention and adjust to you. But it’s not very polite, and it gums things up. Then again, what with global warming and all maybe things need more gumming.

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3 Comments

  1. I always, go into the intersection before I decide which way to turn. It it is only place to get a view of all the choices; there is an intersection I go through daily which is actually known as TWELVE CORNERS, and once in that intersection, paused there with your mind racing, totally alive, you can see not just the three immediate choices, but seven other choices that will develop from two of the choices, and three that will develop up the road should you choose to turn immediately left. I do not mind people honking at me. Oh, and also, I never am sure where I am going. I am a tourist in my own neighborhood.

  2. Well, that’s not very polite, and it gums things up. Also, you may have some trouble getting anyone to ride with you, unless they are prepared to be in the thrall of your whandering whim. I prefer to do my wandering where I won’t be clutter for other people – like in my head, as you so nicely expressed in another comment.

    Nevertheless, my compliments on a successful complication of the thread. I’d much rather be inconvenienced by someone dawdling with attention and purpose than a mere roadhog.

  3. Pingback: Democracy alive and well at the Justice Department? « Dead Voles

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