Stop! In The Name Of Civilization!

Americans are an orderly people. I’m from a country where getting in a train seems to be a  chance to get a step higher on the food chain, but Americans have developed a nice little system. They’ll wait for others to get off, and only then walk inside. It’s really miraculous. Instead of elbowing your way through common men and commuters, a sort of equality presents itself in public transport (I mean Chicago O’Hare’s trolly trains, people here are afraid to let me on the bus, because of the general public that takes buses).

A Moroccan stop sign. I’ve been in Morocco and they don’t really do signs. Or stopping.

One of the things that makes this crystal clear, is the stop sign. A stop sign along the road means any car has to stop, wait for the first car that drove up to the crossing to move on and in that order everybody will ever get to their destination. It’s a perfect system in the States, for only one reason: cars always stop. If it’s 3am, the middle of a quiet neighborhood and you haven’t seen a car in the last half hour, you’d still stop. I’d guess if the zombie apocalypse ever breaks out, stop signs are a perfect place to wait for cars of fresh meat pulling up. I have never seen someone not stopping. I do realize I make Americans sound like nerds right now, but opposed to the Dutch way of Darwinising traffic, I really like it.


10 thoughts on “Stop! In The Name Of Civilization!

  1. If you don’t stop at that stop sign, at 3 AM, in a completely quiet neighborhood, you will find that a police officer was waiting in the shadows by said sign. And they will give you a ticket, even though it is stupid. And THAT’S why we are nerds.

  2. I’m not going to lie.. the Holland way of driving/ biking FREAKED me out when I first got there. I’m so used to the American customs of “letting everyone have their own turn” and never pushing or shoving. Basically, being nonassertive. I remember when I first merged into the bike traffic in Leiden and everyone was just zooming past me and the cars were all over the place. I don’t know how you guys do it!

    • We have different rules, where cars and bicycles are the same in yielding, but when two bikes get to a crossing, it’s much easier to just pass each other than wait. It takes a while to figure out. You can call it being nonassertive, but when it comes to boarding trains, I believe my fellow Dutch people are pigs and should be on the roof.

  3. I was told that, at least in Germany, there are (more-or-less) no stop signs, because they have a rule; something like, ‘the car to the right has the right of way.’, When properly observed, this allegedly made everything run like clockwork. The person who said this had spent some time in Germany. Of course, he also was an amateur racer, and had a thing about efficient traffic movement. And, now that I think of it, he was of Dutch ancestry..

  4. You make me laugh. If I’d never travelled overseas I wouldn’t know what you’re talking about but I have witnessed total “Darwinising traffic” and pigggish behavior at bus stops in other cultures myself. It’s enough to make a small town American look for a mouse hole to climb inside of.

    Thanks for liking my post this morning.

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