Commencing to Address

Well, another school year has come to an end and once again I was not invited to give a commencement address.

Yep. As hard as it may be to imagine–and despite all of the time and effort I have spent crafting the perfect message to deliver to all of those impressionable young minds—once again, scores of high school and college students across the country will have attended ceremonies and received their diplomas without having heard a word of wisdom from yours truly.

I am not alone in having been overlooked by graduation planning committees. In truth, not one of my friends or family members has been asked to speak at a graduation ceremony.

Still, it hurts.

And it saddens me to think not only of my own misfortune, but also of what all those young people are missing. Because if I were to deliver a commencement address, you can bet it would not be some run of the mill presentation on long journeys that begin with single steps, guiding lights at the end of long tunnels, or being a force for change—blah, blah, blah.

No. The commencement address I would give would be of a more practical nature, and would focus on possibly the single most important theme of the moment.

Here is an excerpt:

Ladies and gentlemen

As you leave here today with your hopes and heads high and your futures as bright as the mind of the person speaking to you today, I want you to remember one thing:

Use the damn directional signals on your car. Now and forever. For both turning AND for changing lanes.

Most of you are new enough to the driving world that you probably still use them. But at some point, thanks to the poor example set by far too many of your elders, you will stop using them, and then people like me are going to hate you.

The damn things exist for a reason, people, and it has nothing to do with decoration. They serve to improve safety—just like your headlights, taillights, and brake lights.

I know, I know. Brake lights come on automatically when you apply the brakes—thank goodness. And the folks who refuse to use their signal lights probably wouldn’t use their brake lights either if they had to turn a knob or flip a switch before slowing down or stopping. Unless and until they were rear-ended by a middle-aged blonde in an SUV, of course.

So use the damn things. Today and every day. As if your life depends on it—because it may.

The knob or switch that controls your turning signals may seem like optional—or even recreational—equipment. Especially since so few people on the road use them, it may be easy to write the suckers off as accessories. But believe me, turning signals are both important and useful. They suggest to people around you where you intend to go, so folks aren’t surprised when you suddenly move into the lane 3 inches in front of them. They also tell the drivers in the cars around you that the reason you are coming to a grinding halt in front of them is because you want to turn, so they aren’t left to wonder if there is an animal crossing the road or if you simply stopped to take a selfie, and so they’ll know whether to slow down themselves or simply go around you.

It will be tempting to stop using your signal lights. Especially with so many a$$h0le$ out there weaving in and out the lanes around you at warp speed without using their signals to declare their intentions, you may wonder why you should bother. And given all the people who suddenly and without explanation slow down in front of you, you may feel an urge to displace your anger by showing the same lack of courtesy to other drivers. But don’t let them corrupt you. You are better than that.

In an ideal world your signal lights, like your brake lights, would come on automatically the moment you decide to turn or change lanes. But until they build a car that can read your mind—or until Stephen Hawking’s facial movement recognition software becomes standard equipment on all new vehicles and your car can be programmed to turn on your signal lights as you check your mirrors and blind spots—it’s going to be up to you to use your signal lights—and check your %$#@* blind spots.

As you can see, it’s a real winner. It’s just a shame it won’t be heard.




3 Responses to “Commencing to Address”

  1. 1 Sarah Strandemo
    June 15, 2016 at 6:52 pm


  2. 2 Rose Johnson
    June 16, 2016 at 1:39 am

    Guilty as charged! Had you given the commencement for my graduation perhaps my children would not have to correct me every time I drive. Ha! Having had almost a “Bad Boys Bad Boys ” Moment over those damn signals, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson.

  3. 3 Aliza Gevirtz
    July 18, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Ed tells me: it’s not a lack of good intention. It’s a lack of blinker fluid. The world is running out and it’s a travesty.

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