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Road Sage

Hazard lights are for emergency coffee stops, right? Add to ...

Sometimes you just have to drop off your laundry at the dry cleaners. You know? Sure, it's 8:35 in the morning and it's the middle of rush hour - that happens - but that doesn't mean those shirts can wait.

If those shirts don't get dropped off you'll have nothing to wear 24 hours from now. Nope, no argument. Those shirts need dropping off. But is it cool to pull over right in front of the dry cleaner, blocking an entire lane and creating a bottleneck at the height of rush hour that delays hundreds of fellow commuters?

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No. It wouldn't be - for you. If you parked your car and dropped off your shirts, making everyone late, you'd be a jerk. Pure and simple.

But I can do that any time I want to. I'm always right and everything I do is cool, kosher, proper, correct, whatever word you want to use. You see, I have hazard lights (or hazards as I like to call them). I just discovered these bright-red beauties and they've transformed me. Here are some of the things I can do because my hazard lights are on:

  • Park an SUV on the sidewalk in front an elementary school.
  • Park where it says "No Stopping" because I crave a Mars bar.
  • Block a one-way street because I'm helping a friend move.
  • Fasten an old mattress and bed frame to a car using a single piece of yarn and then transport them on the highway.
  • Drive 40 km/h in the passing lane of a highway.

It's all okay. I have my hazards on.

I not only pull over and drop off my dry cleaning at 8:35 in the morning but I stroll into the neighbouring Starbucks and pick up a Grande Pike Place. I just click on my hazard lights and nobody can touch me. Is that a police car driving by? Oh, hello officer. What? No, no problem here, just dropping off my shirts and grabbing some java. Thanks for asking. Have a great day. I once got a hazards-related ticket but I fought it.

The judge sentenced me by saying, "The accused is guilty of parking his Dodge Grand Caravan across two lanes of traffic at 5:45 in the afternoon in order to purchase a Coke Zero causing a massive mind-altering traffic jam."

"Objection, challenge for cause, ultra vires," I said. "Let the record show I had my hazard lights on."

"Case dismissed and a basket of fries," the judge said, and let me go.

That's the power of my hazards. They keep me in the now. They are the Zen masters of automotive illumination. I mean, you'd think that turning on flashing red lights wouldn't really change the moral nature of an act but you'd be wrong.

My hazard lights make everything okay. They let everyone know that whatever bad thing I'm doing, "it's only temporary." Folks might think I planned on leaving my car in the disabled space in front of the Future Shop indefinitely but, because I've flicked on my hazard lights, they know I'm just there to exchange a Nelly Furtado CD (there's a scratch) and it should only take 45 minutes.

Before discovering my hazards, I was an insecure mess. When waiting to pick someone up at the subway I'd circle the block until that person arrived and then quickly pull over to get them. Pre-hazard me lacked confidence. But now I park right in front of the subway station entrance, switch on my hazards and turn up my favourite song. I can hear the other drivers honking, and the screams of the bus drivers as they try to get around me and in the past I'd have interpreted this negatively. I now realize that these people are just letting me know that they can see I have turned my hazard lights on - so there is no problem.

Their honking is telling me, "Thanks for keeping us in the loop by putting those hazards on. Otherwise we'd think you were a complete bastard."

"But you're not a complete bastard," the bus driver's agonized howls are saying, "Your activated hazard lights let me know that your turning an otherwise fast-moving intersection into chaotic gridlock is just a temporary 25-minute inconvenience."

Look, I have to admit, it's hard to keep the power from going to my head. It's tough not to use the hazards for personal pleasure or just to make life little easier. Their awesome absolution is intoxicating. Sometimes, I like to bring co-workers into my Grand Caravan, and then tell them, "You're fired" and then, just before they're going to start crying or pleading, I flick on my hazards and there's nothing they can do except say thank you and leave. There is nothing my beautiful blinking red illuminators can't do. I no longer have to worry about contraception. We just make love in my car with the hazards on.

Some people are dismayed by Stephen Harper's recent Tory majority. I'm not. I have my hazard lights. Nothing can hurt me now.

*****

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

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