South City Confessions: The world would be a better place if people stopped at red lights and stop signs

Once upon a time in the cold bottleneck region of south city, I was driving for Uber when I nearly was crushed by another car. Before my mom can text me to ask if I am okay all these years later, allow me to provide some detail.

If you’ve ever driven for Uber, the hot spots are located in downtown St. Louis. The more east you get, the later the business is open most likely. Pre-pandemic, a party hound had Tin Roof, Wheelhouse, the casino by the dome or across the river, and the now-closed Mike Talayna’s Jukebox Bar. I was headed east on Bates Street, where I hit a red light at Gravois Road.

Unlike some asshats, I don’t lean my car out over the line in the hopes of getting a slightly better jump off the green. Holy crap, let me get to my destination a few seconds early. Nope. Just sitting there, minding my business when the light finally does turn green. Now, before I can even push my car a few feet out onto Gravois to cross, a large F-150 Ford truck just blazes past the front of my car. When I say blazing, it’s not a joke. The dude was going at least 60-70 mph in a 35 mph zone. If I had crept out a little faster, I’d be dead. No bullshit, no hyperbole. Get a shovel and some dirt, or get the furnace fired up.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are a lot of things we can’t defeat or control in life. The work and actions of the government (no, your vote really doesn’t mean shit, sorry), the vileness of people, and what could happen tomorrow. We can’t control what comes out of other people’s mouths, what they will do afterwards, and how often they fail at a four-way stop. But we can control one thing: stopping at a sign or light that is blinking red or fully flushed with crimson.

JUST. FUCKING. STOP. As Andrew Dice Clay would say, what’s the rush?! Are you going to the bash of the century or something? Will getting there a few minutes earlier guarantee the girl gives you her number by the end of the night? Is it really worth the extra mph and car wear and tear to plow into a club faster only because you just smashed about four traffic laws and a car or two in the process?

Lots of questions, I know. The good thing is that the answer is the same for each of them. NOOOOOOO! The answer is no. Every time a guy runs a red light, a tiny hammer should extend out of their seat and produce a hard tap to the testicles. The next pizza they order should be covered in dog shit and cat hair. Their fantasy football team should be constructed of ex-Ram quarterbacks from the Steve Spagnuolo coaching era. Mothers should make them a nice, crusty chicken pot pie filled with left-out chorizo and overcooked wet cat food. Every emoji shall be deleted from their text message roster.

If a woman runs a red light, every comfy fucking blanket bought at Target and hoodie shall be seized from their house. Kidnap the dog and cat too, and hold them ransom. Delete their mother’s cell from their phone and replace it with Drunk Sean Penn’s digits.  Their ability to make a reel on Instagram shall be revoked, and 3/4 of the filters for pics shall be taken away (this goes for dudes too, so settle down ladies). Their brunch opportunities should be cancelled for a month, with cold Taco Bell breakfast subbed in.

Running red lights can take lives, and for what? Look, I get the reason. As human beings, the need to stray from the rules and laws is impossible to extract from our DNA. That’s the same reason prisons and hospitals are stuffed with morons who couldn’t handle a car properly. Last month, someone drove a car into the beloved south city eatery, Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. The guy was driving over 160 mph and crashed through concrete and stone rock. Why? He didn’t get a pudding in his snack pack that afternoon. Not really, but does the reason matter with that speed. Three people were injured, two of them being employees.

Let me be the guy to remind you that what happens in movies doesn’t translate in real life. A statement of the “no shit” variety for sure, but still vital info. Unlike Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker, you can’t smash a car through three high rises and come out with your tux looking immaculate. You’ll die in a car going too fast for a city street; something Walker found out the hard way when his car-shop pal crashed a sports car into a tree, cutting it in half and killing both men. And why? To see how fast that baby could fly with all that horsepower. Mistake. They’re gone.

Stop signs also need more respect. I live off January Avenue, one of the most popular streets in Princeton Heights. It gets A LOT of action at all times of the day. If I had to break off a percentage of the people who made proper stops in front of my house, I would say 30%. That’s a very generous number. At least 15-20 people just hit the brake pedal once and fly through, paying no attention to the dogwalkers or runners using the road properly. What’s really funny is that so many cops live in our neighborhood and this continues to go on?

What’s even more depressing is seeing a cop car do nothing when someone is flying down the street, going 10-20 mph over the limit. Or when a stop sign or red light is crossed illegally, and they do nothing. Those cops must forget that they work for the public. We are their boss. Their job is to protect and serve us. Simple. It’s a pity the ball is dropped often, something else that is out of our control.

What can we control? Stopping more often. Driving slower. Taking it easy and getting to Raising Cane’s in one piece. If you don’t slow down, that Big Mac will be orphaned.

Drunk driving is something that needs to be wrangled and controlled better, but you can’t find a demon that makes people feel less stress and urgency. Take a breathalyzer to a baseball game and ask people to volunteer for a study of how many folks leave sporting events drunker than a skunk, and the number would horrify you. But that’s an operation that needs so much more convincing, discipline, and patience. Getting people to drink and drive less is like telling a second grader not to use the aluminum bat for sword-fighting: hopeless.

But getting a few more souls a day to follow the most SIMPLEST rules of the road isn’t as tough. It’s not a dream, at least it shouldn’t be.

Be better, please. STOP more often.


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