Archive for September, 2008

Strange people by the side of the road

September 8th, 2008

Last night I saw two cases of cars stuck by the side of the road, and in both cases the drivers behaved very oddly. Well, the second behaved oddly, the first was just a stupid idiot.

Right at the top

Let’s start with the second case. It involved a single car standing on the road’s shoulder. When I came closer I saw something large on the car’s roof. When I came closer I saw that it was the driver, just standing on the car.

I may be mistaken. It was night, and I was going over at about 100km/h (~62mph).

But if I’m wrong then it just means that, instead of a person standing on the car’s roof, there was a dressed mannequin standing on the car’s roof. I hardly think it’s better. Or that someone who would place a mannequin on the roof of their car is somehow less odd than someone who would stand on the roof of their car themselves.

Playing chicken

The first case involved a group of three cars standing on the shoulder of the road. Two of them first, very close by, and one about 80-100 meters down the road. None of them seemed crashed, or banged, so there probably wasn’t an accident, and I’m not sure why they stopped.

Now, I’ll take a little aside, and get back to the story in a few paragraphs. A while ago[1] they passed a law here requiring people to carry light-reflecting vests in their cars, and to wear them whenever leaving the car[2].

Personally I thought the law was silly. After all, if you stop the car because of some problem (usually an accident, or a mechanical problem that you want to check) you’ll stay near the car. Meaning that we’re not talking about passing drivers missing a lone standing person, but are rather concerned about a passing driver missing an entire car at the side. That’s… difficult. A driver will only fail to notice a whole car if they’re sleeping, or drunk, and in none of these cases wearing a light-reflecting vest will help. Actually, there aren’t any cases[3] where a person in a light-reflecting vest, standing right next to a car, will be more visible than the car.

And a driver that sees a car on the side should, and would, expect people to be standing next to it, and so will pay attention, and keep a little distance.

There is, however, one case where wearing this vest isn’t just the law, but is also a good idea. The case where the person, on the side of a fast road, not only gets out of the car, but gets away from the car. Once a person is walking near the road by themselves, they’re hard to see.

Which takes us back to the story.

The guy driving the third car, 80-100 meters away, was walking slowly towards the two first cars.

And, despite the fact that the shoulder was wide enough to fit an entire car, he didn’t walk on the shoulder. He walked on the actual road, on the lane where cars were driving, near the edge of the shoulder.

And he did so without wearing the vest. At night.

I think quite a lot of people almost ran him over. And frankly, he would have deserved it. They, however, wouldn’t have, so it’s a good thing nothing happened (Probably. I did pass him while he was only half-way there, not all the way over)

  1. One year? Two? It wasn’t exciting enough for me to remember the exact date[back]
  2. When it’s not properly parked, but rather stopped on the roadside. Of course if you park your car normally, and go out on a sidewalk, you don’t need the vest.[back]
  3. I mean real-world cases. If someone intentionally tries to camouflage their car then it can be done.[back]

Gasoline of the beast

September 7th, 2008

It’s pretty much a nonsense post, but I found it amusing, so why not bother the rest of humanity with it, right?

Last night I passed by the gas station to fill out my car’s tank.

The price of gasoline here has climbed to exactly 6.66 ILS per liter, which is what the display at the pump showed[1].

I passed my credit card in the pump, and entered my ID number. (A few years ago most pumps started to ask for ID numbers when you operate them yourself with a credit card. I have a hard time imagining a crime wave of people stealing credit cards only to rush to fill the gas tanks of their cars, but apparently that was imminent, as I can’t figure out another reason for this).

After the ID number the pump asked for my car’s license plate number. This is more recent, less than a year I think. Not all pumps on all gas stations do it, but the number is growing. In this case I think it’s not for crime prevention (it doesn’t stop you from entering whatever number you want), but rather to save work for people who need receipts for tax deductions. Previously you had to go to a worker at the station, and ask for a manual receipt, even if you filled the tank on your own. Something which wastes time and is quite bothersome.

I don’t tax-deduct my gas, so I don’t need my car’s license plate number on the receipt. And I don’t see any reason to give any more personal information than I really have to. So as a rule I just press the number “6″ once, and go with it[2].

And something happened to the keypad. This is a pump in a station, near my house, which I use a lot. And the keypad is usually clunky and unresponsive. But this night, I just gently touched the key, and it fired multiple time. First time this happened, in years. The result license plate number? “666″.

  1. That’s 7 USD per gallon, with today’s exchange rate, just in case anyone is curious[back]
  2. I did mention that there’s no verification, right? “6″ is not a valid license plate number here, AFAIK[back]