Yield.

There’s a disturbing trend on the streets these days that seems to be getting worse by the hour.

People no longer know how to yield.

Or, rather, the lack of it really comes down to two things: they’re either unaware or they’re selfish.

Ever been driving along with everything going swimmingly until you put your blinker on and the idiot in whatever lane you’d like to get into decides to speed up? He could simply yield to your lane adjustment and carry on like a normal human being, but nooooo — something goes haywire. “Personal space” is perceived as being encroached upon. Your fellow driver turns into a Grade A tool.

Then there’s the four-way stop. (This is my personal favorite lately.) Your opposing traffic wants to turn left, and doesn’t realize that they’re supposed to yield to you — the same way they’d yield at a green light until you pass through the intersection. I think the DMV needs to start making knowing the answer to this question on driving tests mandatory. Fail whatever else you want to, but everything rides on that one question. Don’t get it right, don’t get a license. Ignorance is cluttering up our roads, my friends.

I can count on two hands (sad) the number of times I’ve been flipped off or honked at in the last month because my opposing traffic assumed they have the right of way. Fortunately, I’m prepared for it. It doesn’t make me happy, but nor do I go out of my way to try to teach anyone a lesson (which, knowing Socal, may result in a bullet to the head, being followed home and assaulted, etc.). I’d love to produce a PSA for this trend, the same way I’d like to create one that reminds people that they don’t have the power to make a crosswalk sign change any more quickly if they press the button repeatedly.

When others forget to yield, it’s an irritation. But the same way that they may ignore the rules of the road, there’s another type of yield that’s equally important: the reading-your-audience-and-knowing-when-to-back-off yielding. When someone’s on the war path and convinced they’re right, correcting them at that moment in time may not be the wisest move. When you’re being steamrolled, anything other than setting a better example can prove more than detrimental. When you’re in the line of fire, be strategic — not necessarily defensive.

While there’s power in standing up for oneself, there’s more power in being the bigger person and setting the example that you hope one day catches on. It may take a while, but if enough people take part, I’m convinced we can often times undo bad habits long after they’ve started. For this, though it may be trying at times, I am thankful.

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