This is America. We have four-way stops here, the way God intended it. Not roundabouts like some kind of Godless European country. You know, the kind of country that’s utterly thankless that we singlehandedly wrestled them away from the Nazis after we mozied on in, fashionably late to the party. The American way. We like to come to a complete stop at an intersection and stare down the other driver straight in the eye like we’re about to quickdraw our six-shooters at high noon, tumbleweed bouncing across the dusty landscape and all.
So why am I having to crane my neck to the left, having to judge whether dipshit over there who’s too good to use his turn signal is going to turn down my way or just keep bebopping around the merry-go-round for tweaked-out meth heads? Listen, you bum, there is no brass ring to grab ahold of, but there is your turn signal. Use it.
Another car? So what’s the point of this roundabout nonsense if I had to come to a complete stop anyway? Have our city leaders heard of the word “counterintuitive?” Maybe if dictionaries were still a thing, I’d march down to city hall and lob one right at their quivering little bureaucratic foreheads. Maybe that’ll get them thinking about something besides how to make my morning commute more miserable.
Did you know that for every roundabout the city installs, rent goes up ten percent? I read it on the internet, so it has to be true. Gentrification at its finest. I’m sure the craft beer-sipping art gallery crowd is doing a little happy dance, watching my emotional demise as I tap my steering wheel with my fingers, waiting on yet another soccer mom van to pass. They may as well install one of those lottery billboards with the high-dollar figures on it to show us what kind of mega million jackpots our local landlords are pilfering from us. It’ll have a picture of them and the city bureaucrats, arms around shoulders, wearing leisure suits, gleaming at us peasants approvingly.
And don’t tell me that roundabouts are safer. When they first opened this roundabout a year ago, a little old grandma got confused and turned left, thinking that’s what you’re supposed to do, and nearly caused a head-on collision with me. I would have been irritated, but who can blame her? In a truly democratic, free society, you should be able to turn right or left. Choose your destiny. Forcing you to turn right every time screams banana republic totalitarianism.
Well, it looks like the tweaker merry-go-round is starting to clear up. The nauseated riders are exiting one by one. It looks like it’s my turn to hop on board. Here we go.
It took me t-minus three seconds on here before some high-strung jackass pulled into the roundabout right in front of me. They apparently don’t have the patience that I do. I have the kind of zen it takes to make sure that the microwave fully heats my chimichanga to the point of not leaving little frozen spots in the middle. So I have to slow down and yield to them, basically. I guess that yield sign is just for fun, like Halloween decorations for cats. They don’t give a crap about Halloween or any other commercialized holidays, for that matter. And they certainly don’t give a crap about you.
So do I have to be in the inner lane or the outer lane? Who’s idea was it to have two lanes in a roundabout? What’s the point? So that your Little Ceasar’s Hot-n-Ready pizza doesn’t get two seconds cooler on the way home? It’s a five-dollar pizza, Karen. Or six dollars with inflation these days, whatever. Either way, you had the audacity to demand that poor sixteen-year-old put extra pepperoni on the left-hand side to match the right-hand side. Well, guess what, you can’t speak to the manager about traffic moving slower in the inner lane. No one cares. Believe me, I already tried to make that phone call.
And supposedly, roundabouts are more environmentally friendly because they prevent emissions from idling. Tell that to Bubba in the jacked-up Dodge pickup, who treats this roundabout like it’s his own miniature NASCAR track. That truck is so big it can do a full donut around the entire thing. There’s fresh tire marks to prove it. I’m still choking on the exhaust fumes from this monstrosity that’s clearly meant to compensate for Bubba’s small… exhaust pipe.
Alright, so now it’s time for me to disembark the twisted merry-go-round since this is my exit. Or at least I think it is. It’s kind of hard to say since the whole nauseating experience makes it excruciatingly hard to make out the road signs. They all just run together after you’ve been spinning in a small, futile circle. And a circle it is. If I was in an aircraft above and didn’t know any better, I would think this was some kind of crop circle implanted by a bunch of cult-vibe cornfield weirdo children. The kind that lure you in with two-for-one street tacos and then demand the blood of your firstborn.
I can verify that this is, in fact, the street that I’m supposed to be on. I remember the discount outlet store in the red barn on the left. And the rent-to-own toolshed dealership on the right. All these familiar sights that are so Americana. Just like a good old red octagonal stop sign. The kind that tells you to slow down to a complete stop and, just for a brief moment, contemplate your meager existence in a relentlessly changing society. The kind that has you just sitting in the driver’s seat scanning the horizon for any last hope of a by-gone era. You can’t do that in a roundabout.
Roundabouts symbolize the decline of modern civilization. Supposed progress at the hands of those determined to squander our tax dollars just for the sake of spending money recklessly. I may as well flush my annual check to the IRS down the toilet. Which is basically what a roundabout is: the never-ending flush cycle of a broken toilet. Water constantly spiraling downward into a pipe that serves as a thoroughfare for our excrement. And nobody bothers to call a plumber because the bureaucratic red tape to do so is too soul-sucking. So you’re just stuck with a dysfunctional toilet and a streetscape full of roundabouts.
Maybe one day I’ll get used to roundabouts, or traffic circles, or rotaries, or whatever you call them. I may even warm up to the idea of having to use them. Come full circle, just like a fully microwaved chimichanga. In the meantime, I’d like to meet the person who invented roundabouts. No, really, I would. Whoever you are, ‘round about now, I’d like to kick your ass.
An American Citizen