It’s that time of the year when I get to list out my top peeves for the past twelve months. I do this in the hope that those of you responsible for some of them will make a real effort this year to clean up your act.
Being an Anchoragian, I must, of course, start my list with a rant against many of our lovely local drivers. If I have one dream left in life, it is to die with my feet on, in my own bed, surrounded by my loving pets and family. I sometimes feel as though there is a cabal of Anchorage drivers who have secretly pledged to see that never happens.
They have apparently had special traffic rules passed in the dead of night under a cloak of secrecy just for them. Foremost among those special traffic rules is a blanket exception to ever actually being required to use a turn signal. This is not so bad in the summer when I have at least a prayer of slowing down in time, but in the winter it’s enough to make me sit up, breathe rapidly and see most of my life flash before my eyes while understanding just what a tremendous asset anti-lock brakes are.
While we are on the road, so to speak, let’s discuss some issues of common courtesy for people who walk or ride a bike. Now I realize that here in Anchorage both those concepts are considered pretty radical but there are those among us who have not yet been able to totally walk away from our radical 60s past. We choose to continue to defy conventional wisdom and the Establishment by occasionally using alternative modes of transportation.
Drivers should show some courtesy in passing a walker or bike rider by slowing down, not speeding up as though fearful that we have a disease that is somehow contagious through a closed car window. Not only does slowing down lessen the risk of impact and death, but when it is wet out, it lessens the chance that I will come home covered from head to toe in mud and slush.
And one last mention in the vehicular category – a red arrow means don’t go. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been waiting in the turn lane through one light already. Sometimes you have to wait through another one before you get to the head of the line and can turn. Once that green arrow has turned red, you need to stop trying to go through the intersection. More importantly, you need to not honk obnoxiously at the person in front of you who actually does stop when the arrow turns red.
And making yet another appearance on my list this year are loose dogs being walked by owners who haven’t a clue what the words “control of your animal” really means. They apparently think that if their dog comes bounding up to a perfect stranger who is standing in the middle of the path holding her dog over her head while both dogs bark and the strange dog jumps up and down, they have the dog in perfect control if they say, “He’s really very friendly”.
It is also not control if after calling and whistling for your dog, you actually have to come over and peel him off me while yelling, “Down, boy”. If a dog does not walk by your side or return to you at your first command no matter what other distraction there may be, you do not have control over your dog. End of story, no other explanation required. And if you want to walk your dog unleashed in an area not designated for that use, then you better have a good plan for instantly leashing him when someone approaches. While your dog may be friendly, mine may not be and if I have mine under control, it just seems unfair that I’m the one who ends up in the middle of two snarling canines.
Having vented all that, let me now list my top reasons for why my life this past year has been very good. It’s simple. I live in the best state in the union surrounded by the best people in the world amidst land that brought tears to God’s own eyes after he created it because of its beauty. I walk with moose and commune with eagles. I have some of the best and some of the funniest politicians in the whole world representing me so I’m never bored. I am blessed to have my little family of critters intact. My dog is going to be 16 years old this spring, so I’m truly grateful that his spot is still occupied.
And I’m grateful to all the people who read this column and take the time to let me know they appreciate my efforts even when they don’t always agree with me. Being an Alaskan columnist means always knowing exactly how your readers feel about you. You make me feel very special.
Happy New Year! (Wow, a holiday greeting I can utter without fear of offending…I think.)