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Monday, August 11, 2008

[Hannah]: at the California DMV, we learned not to hit schoolchildren or blind pedestrians

I'm changing my dateline - I'm now a graduate student in Berkeley, CA. Don't have much time here, so this isn't very polished, but I wanted to provide an update. The CA (thanks to those who asked!) is living with me, a graduate student at Stanford. Many amusing things to report here, but we don't get internet until the end of the week, so it's going to have to be catch as catch can. This morning, we went to the DMV and emerged after a mere 75 minutes VICTORIOUS with temporary drivers' licenses and real ones that are theoretically going in the mail to come to us soon. I didn't even have to surrender my adorable NC drivers' license, which has a picture that accurately reflects what it feels like to wait in line for an hour and a half in 95 degree weather. In California, things worked smoothly. The agents were even in a good mood! The CA and I both passed our written exams on the first try, not really because we know much about California driving laws, but mainly because we are good test takers. For example, if the test asks you what the penalty is for doing something boneheaded (drinking and driving, ignoring the directions of a school crossing guard) you can pretty much assume the answer is whichever of a) b) or c) is the stiffest penalty. And also you have to do everything you can to protect little children. For example, if the question is:

"If you are driving along and an evil witch offers you the choice between driving off a cliff and running over some little children who are walking to school"

the correct response is always C) "Sacrifice self, drive over cliff. " Do not attempt to A) run over the witch, and by all means, do not (B) drive over the children or you will go to jail for a minimum of one year."

As I was falling asleep last night, reading the 92 page PDF Driving in California manual, though it is rather dry, I noticed one somewhat poetic moment. This moment has to do with the behavior of blind pedestrians, who we are told will be carrying a white cane with or without a red tip on the end.

You have to drive up close to the crosswalk before you stop for blind pedestrians, because they hvae to hear your car stopping. This is especially a problem up here with all the hybrid vehicles - they are very sneaky and quiet! (also this is a serious hazard for cyclists I am told - you can't hear those damn hybrids coming).

Then you watch the blind pedestrian. Will he/she cross? The DMV manual says "If the person takes a step back and pulls in his or her cane, that's a definite sign that you should go."

Falling asleep, I wondered about the motivations of the blind pedestrian. Why isn't he crossing the road? Does he still not feel safe? Does he wish he didn't live in California where he has to be shlepping across roads all the time? Why did he turn back? Is he discouraged?

I told the DMV test-issuer about how this had caught my attention. She said, "Oh yeah, it's for real. In San Francisco, it seems like they hit a couple of them every month." I said, "Good thing we don't live there, it sounds dangerous."


At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to have you in the area! I live in Palo Alto and have been reading your mom's blog and its offspring Caray, Caray since she was recapping Amor Real all by herself. Hope you're enjoying Northern California and the Bay Area. I grew up in Ohio, but have lived here about 40 years and consider it to be a WONDERFUL place to live, full of really bright people and loaded with great things to do.


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