So Much To Rant About On Oahu

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - June 23, 2005

It’s been awhile since I sat down and had myself a real cathartic release about our city. I think we all need to vent a little, so here it goes.

• I hear drivers from the Mainland tell us we are the friendliest drivers in the world. We let people cut in line, respect another’s blinker when parking and we seldom use a horn. I am told Mainland drivers, especially in major cities, are the worst. They will cut you off, flip you the bird for no reason at all and even shoot you right on the freeway. Jeesh! Why drive?

I think the truth is found somewhere in between. Actually, we are not that good and they are not that bad. In my daily encounters on Honolulu roads, I constantly confront surly drivers who will dive into a line making a turn, who will not let you change lanes, who will drive half the speed limit in the passing lane and give you stink eye for even looking over. There are careless drivers who bolt out of driveways, run stop signs (no, you cannot stop twice at the next one and call it good) and ride your tail in hopes of getting to their destination two seconds faster.

• One of my greatest pet peeves is the now universally accepted retail act of checking your receipt at the door as you leave the store. When did this aggravating tradition begin? Who is responsible, and can he or she be found to suffer the consequences? Those consequences would be to shop at one of these retailers forever and then have his/her receipt be checked every single time!

It just bugs the heck outta me that someone is auditing your visit to their store where you spent your money! I guess it’s the idea of having someone looking at what you bought and putting their mitts all over your purchase that gets me. I have asked why this is necessary, and I am told so stores can prevent checkout staff from giving merchandise and outrageous discounts to friends, family and other possible accomplices. If the store has a security problem with its staff, then take care of it at the source. Stop treating all your customers like they are guilty until proven innocent.

• OK, this isn’t so much a rant, but an observation. You go into a plate lunch restaurant. You order at the counter, pay and are given a receipt with your number. You get your own drink most times, get your own utensils and take a seat. You hear your number called and go to the pick-up counter. If you are taking out, you take your bag and leave. If you are dining in, you take your tray, find your own seat and nobody offers any other assistance, like a drink refill. When you are done, you clean your table and toss your trash. So, the question is … why is there a tip jar at the register?

• Finally, I hear a lot of bleating coming from pedestrians who complain about drivers. They say drivers are inconsiderate and would run them over if they did not jump out of the way at the very last moment. A little melodramatic? Not necessarily. I am certain there have been some close calls.

But walkers are not without their own boneheaded maneuvers. I do not wish to diminish the tragic incidents which have occurred in the past. I recall some of the terrible losses on Pali Highway in Nuuanu, for example. All the attention is focused on drivers, however, and I maintain that spotlight should be shared with pedestrians. How many times have you seen walkers dart out from between cars into the street? I can’t believe people cross busy roads at night wearing dark clothes. Speaking of the Pali, I have encountered pedestrians casually crossing the road, seemingly oblivious to oncoming traffic.

The issue became so inflamed that legislation was introduced to protect pedestrians in a crosswalk. This is a prime example of thinking that passing a law is the solution. The bottom line is drivers and pedestrians need to follow their respective rules of the road. Drivers need to mellow out when pedestrians are crossing the street, but walkers need to follow their rules, too. Stop crossing against the lights, stop jumping out from between vehicles and stick to the crosswalks. That’s why they are there.

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