Wednesday 31 August 2011

A petty aggrevation

I'm starting to get why IT folks hate users.

The road by our house is currently being torn up and rebuilt to lay a new sewer line consequent to the earthquake. Half the street is blocked off with heavy equipment and big holes.

At the traffic circle to turn down my road, there's a big "No Right Turn" sign. As you enter the street, navigating between a whole pile of road cones that limit entry, there are three signs. The first says "Local Resident Access Only". The second says "No Through Road". The third says "Road Closed".

After the turn for a small cul-de-sac that runs off of Estuary Road, there's a more formidable set of barricades with the sign, again "No Exit", and a narrow gap through the cones to allow access for residents. At the end of my block, there's a set of barricades preventing through traffic from continuing onto the next part of Estuary Road.

I watched one car do a U-Turn at that final barricade every 5 minutes on Saturday. On Sunday, I watched the Number 5 Bus do a U-Turn there too. It wasn't gracefully executed.

I could buy some small number of folks making U-turns there. If you didn't know whether, say, 197 Estuary was on the North or South side of Beatty St, you could err. But one every five minutes? And a bus?

It would be mildly fun to have one person sit at the traffic circle and count the proportion of people approaching the circle with GPS devices on the dashboard and compare it with the proportion of folks making U-turns with GPS. Rather a few folks making U-turns seem to have them, but I don't know the relevant base rate.


  1. Guarantee that it did, but I have no picture. My 3 yr old and 1 yr old are witnesses, as were the folks down the street. Lots of folks came out to have a laugh....

  2. I sometimes drive down a cul-de-sac with the express purpose of executing a u-turn in a place designed for it, in order to avoid spilling my beer with jarring 3-point turns.

    So I guess what Im saying is, maybe they were all drunk?

  3. Is it GPS blindness – or are they just ‘pushing the elevator button’?

    For more than a decade now my husband has worked on the whateverteenth floor of a big building in a large metro area. Every workday he enters the lobby, presses the button, waits for the elevator to arrive, then rides it up to his floor. He is a man of more than average intelligence and a long distance runner (so the stairs are a viable option).

    If he pushes the button tomorrow and the elevator doesn’t come do you think he will (a) immediately give up and take the stairs or (b) escalate into a button mashing frenzy before giving up and going for another cup of Starbucks?

    Habits are directly analogous to inertia. They both represent the tendency of objects (or living creatures) to resist any change. And time is to habit what mass is to inertia so if those people have been taking that route for a while (especially if they’ve been doing it mindlessly, which is the habit equivalent of a high rate of velocity) – they can have an enormous amount of habitual inertia to overcome.

    FWIW this can be a big issue with dogs too. A dog that’s been allowed to develop bad habits will typically ‘push the elevator button’ for some time before giving up and trying a new strategy. That’s why I have a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On” poster on the wall of the training room.

  4. @Janeen: What if there were great big barricades on the door entry saying "No access to the 12th Floor" that he had to walk around, then the elevator stopped at 11 and a sign said "All folks who want 12th, get out now"?

  5. He'd definitely get in and take it to eleven. What he did beyond that point would probably depend on where his head was that day and who was in the elevator with him.

    If everyone else got out at 11, he probably would follow the herd and get off too. If he was alone and distracted by thoughts of other things, he might still engage in a bit of last minute button mashing.