Stupid Tuesday questions, Erik Estrada edition


Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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74 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “What obscure rule or arcane guideline do you want to pass on to the ignorant masses?”

    The Oxford comma. Zazzy made a holiday card for us to send out this year, now that we have Mayo to feature on it instead of our ugly mugs. Only she had it signed “Mayo, Zazzy and Kazzy”. I was so angry I almost cancelled Christmas.

    But that is one many people already know and which is more of a debate than a sign of ignorance. Still, I wish everyone followed it.

    Oh, one I learned the hard way is that people on the DC Metro are hardcore about the “stand to the right, move to the left” rule on escalators. See, most people rarely encounter escalators. Perhaps at the mall and maybe in a giant hotel lobby. Otherwise, they aren’t regular things for most of us and thus the need for rules seems silly. But DC’s Metro system has escalators that go on ad infinitum. If you get on at the bottom, you regularly can’t see the top. There is actually an official rule that says you’re supposed to stand on the right and move on the left. And people take it very seriously. So seriously that a group of teenagers once challenged some friends and I, all in our college years, to a fight because we failed to adhere to the rule.

    So, good people of Earth, should you find yourself riding an escalator in the DC area, do not stand on the left side unless you want to be fought by a group of teenagers.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

      This is what some people think should happen to DC Metro:

    • Avatar Caleb says:

      people on the DC Metro are hardcore about the “stand to the right, move to the left” rule on escalators.

      As a DC area resident: YES, THIS!

      Although, the rule is more/less applicable depending on the time and station. If it’s a touristy station like Arlington Nat. Cemetery or Smithsonian and not at peak rush hour, it’s fairly unreasonable to expect a good flow of traffic on the left. Too many large families/student groups/tour groups. However, if it’s a office worker stop like L’Enfant or Pentagon and near peak travel times: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STAND ON THE RIGHT!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I can’t remember where — whether it was DC or somewhere else — but I have seen signs that actually indicate the rule. I’m thinking maybe it is on those moving walkways at airports. I don’t object to the rule per say but think that if it is going to be an expectation, a sign indicating as much would go a long way. It’s not an unreasonable “rule” but isn’t widely known because, as I mentioned, most people don’t ride escalators as often as Washingtonians.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Everyone uses this rule, don’t they?
        Maybe not in malls, but at my work, we use it.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I don’t think most people interact with escalators enough to even consider the existence of a rule. Especially in older, east coast cities.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      At the Las Vegas airport, the PA has celebrity voices explaining this rule continuously, e.g Don Rickles “Hey, hockey puck! Stand to the right, walk to the left!” It’s also the rule on BART escalators, understood well enough that people blocking the left will apologize and move over after a simple “Excuse me.”Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        I’d love to hear the Professor Frink version. Of course by the time he got it all out you might be long gone from the escalator/walkway.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      The Oxford comma. Zazzy made a holiday card for us to send out this year, now that we have Mayo to feature on it instead of our ugly mugs. Only she had it signed “Mayo, Zazzy and Kazzy”. I was so angry I almost cancelled Christmas.

      There is an obligatory song that goes with this, but it’s so obligatory that it should already have popped into your head by now, so I won’t post it.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Same with airport slidewalksReport

    • Avatar Roger Ferguson says:

      What about Manny, Moe & Jack? Insufficiently educated or clever marketers?Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


      Were you angry because she used your OT pseudonyms instead of your actual names?Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    My understanding of a cop swerving accross several lanes of traffic is that he’s performing a solo “rolling roadblock”. One does not pass the cop but continues to maintain speed unless he’s slowing to a stop, in which case you then stop.

    But then I’ve also seen cops walk out into the fast lane of a highway with no reflective vest and put their hand up to direct someone to pull over. Trying to pull someone over doing in excess of 70 in the left lane from over several hundred yards out struck me as…..shall we say “foolish”.Report

    • You are the first person I’ve yet encountered who has heard of this “rolling roadblock” thing, but at least it appears that someone somewhere knows it’s a thing at all.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’ve definitely seen “rolling roadblocks”, but they are usually handled differently. A police car will occupy every lane and they will all drive slowly shoulder-to-shoulder, backing everybody up behind them.

        Maybe the other guys called in sick that day and this dude was having to cover all lanes himself.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        I could certainly see a situation where there are limited cops and there is a need to slow traffic from highway speed to something less…where this maneuver could be used…but yes, generally, it’s one cop car per lane…Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Ehh… wait till you see trucks doing it.
        (That’s also sometimes directed by police, I’d figure).Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I have seen the one-cop rolling road block. And I’ve only seen it handled the way Damon described: stay a good distance behind the patrol car, maintaining its speed or below. Now, since the cop was going so slow that another cop could walk up to your car, that might be different. I’ve never seen them go that slow.

        Usually it means some sort of VIP is in the area, and they’re only shutting the highway down briefly, though it could mean a chase somewhere, which is much more exciting than the Vice President of Estonia.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Also, the one-cop versus one-cop per lane likely indicates that it was an unplanned thing.Report

      • Avatar Maria says:

        I’ve encountered the rolling roadblock a few times. I think they use it a lot to clear debris from the freeway ahead or to open up the freeway for emergency vehicles. Maybe this is more common in California with our rather extensive freeway culture.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I knew this too. There is something on the road up ahead, and traffic needs to stop so it can clear.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Me too, and I’ve experienced it several times. Maybe it’s a California thing.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        I experienced this once (also in California)–A single highway patrol car swerving across all three lanes to keep the flow of traffic slow (but not stopped). Like Russell, I had no Idea what was happening, but it was obvious from context that passing the patrol car was a bad Idea.

        In this case, there was a very recent accident on the road. The patrol car was slowing traffic so other patrol cars could get into position to block the affected lanes.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        It’s popular as hell in SoCal.

        When I used to commute routinely (crosses self) I would hit one of those every 6-8 weeks or so. Somebody would drop a big piece of hazardous debris on the road, and two CHP officers in two cars would handle it.

        One rolling roadblocks the traffic a couple of miles back, the other one zips ahead and drags whatever over to the side of the road.Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I think the rule is that Massachusetts cops are unmitigated a**h*les, but I don’t think that’s obscure.Report

  4. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    Very interesting. Was it a statie? If so, a strange thing happened to me the other day as well.

    I was driving down Route 3 – which as you may know is rural enough that it’s okay to exceed the posted speed limit so long as you do not exceed the posted speed limit by more than 12 miles per hour. Accordingly. Two other cars and I were cluster speeding in that vein, as you do when you live sixty miles away from where you work. All of a sudden a statie blew past us at well over 90 miles an hour. This itself was not unusual. What was unusual was that it proceeded to slow down and hover in front of the three of us. None of us was phased. We knew the rules.

    Then, suddenly, there was one flash of yellow – not blue – light from the state police car, and then it proceeded to peel out and continue its journey towards the more nether-regions of the cape.

    Do you think they’re planning some kind of takeover? Or are they just making up signals? What’s going on here!?Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I was driving down Route 3…rural …it proceeded to slow down and hover in front of the three of us….Then, suddenly, there was one flash of yellow – not blue – light …Do you think they’re planning some kind of takeover?…What’s going on here!?

      Ask the men in black when they show up at your door.

      Repeat after me: what you saw was a weather balloon, or possibly swamp gas.Report

    • A statie. Yes.

      It was truly bizarre. They cleared traffic from a major artery into the Boston suburbs for no clear reason, then left. Was your weird episode a week ago today?Report

      • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

        It may have been. My memory of it is a little fuzzy…Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        My memory of it is a little fuzzy…

        They already got to you!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        It was truly bizarre. They cleared traffic from a major artery into the Boston suburbs for no clear reason, then left.

        It was probably an unplanned event. Someone was in town without sufficient forewarning, there was a chase, or something else that pops up and leaves just as suddenly. If they have forewarning, they’ll use a line of cars, but if they have to close it quickly, there may only be one car on the immediate vicinity. I am surprised that the other cars didn’t join as soon as they showed up, though.Report

  5. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    1. You’re not a fool. People have mental breakdowns of one sort or another far more often than this thing occurs, I’m sure.

    2. I’ve never heard of such a rule, either. I’ve seen a single policeman block traffic without doing such a weird maneuver.

    3. The rule I know that almost nobody else seems to know? Students value organization in a teacher more than anything else except fairness.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “3. The rule I know that almost nobody else seems to know? Students value organization in a teacher more than anything else except fairness.”

      You clearly don’t teach high school boys.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Protip: Problems with complex electronic devices (computers, cell phones, TVs, routers, etc.) can often be fixed by turning them off and back on.Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Proper bus and subway etiquette of the cities work through a very tight and easily broken social compact because you have a lot of disparate cultures that really don’t like or agree each other and we live close to each other. We solve this problem through silence largely. Though sometimes groups do try to break this compact.

    Also don’t dawdle on NYC streets. Move with purpose, speed, and direction.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      That goes for any city street. Even if you’re lost, don’t look like it.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      I visited New York a few years ago, and compared to what everyone else seems to experience there, I had no problems with it. Why? Because I knew that that very trivial rule.

      If you do not know where you’re going, there are plenty of places to stop that are not the middle of the sidewalk.Report

  8. Avatar Peter Moore says:

    I’ve seen this several times in California, and heard it called a “Traffic Break”. It can be done as a transition to a full stop (you don’t want to make drivers go from 70 to 0 all at once), or to just slow down traffic to create a temporary gap in traffic for clearing debris or move safety equipment.Report

  9. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    In Monopoly, property that a player chooses not to buy is put to auction and sold to the highest bidder. It’s a rule that nobody follows that makes a terrible game marginally less terrible.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

      Also, one doesn’t receive money for landing on Free Parking.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        It amazes me that people try to have rules that make the game longer, like the free parking thing or ignoring the auction thing.

        Monopoly is _already_ much too long. The _entire point_ of the game is for people to buy up all the property and all but one person to run out of money.

        Of course, this is a game that no one understands the best move (Except very very early in the game) is to stay in jail for as long as possible, so you don’t lose money on rent.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Monopoly, like baseball, is a game for a different era.Report

  10. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    Could also have been that when Superintendent Lewis is hammered again he needs to be taken home to sleep it off, while his car gets taken back to the precinct by someone sober, they need civilians far enough away that there are no witnesses.

    Clearly, this will not be a rule that’s actually on the books, since nowhere will it actually be written down that cops are above the law – so it’s fair you didn’t know.Report

  11. Avatar Pinky says:

    Anyone else ever honk at a cop car when he’s driving badly? As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have your lights on, you’re another driver. Don’t cut me off.Report

  12. Avatar Mrs. Likko says:

    Regarding “What little bit of advice did you wish everyone heeded?”, while living in TN with Burt, we encountered emergency vehicles screaming down the roads, lights flashing, sirens a blaring but the locals would not pull over.

    Funeral processions were the only exception. Apparently once someone is dead then TN drivers become respectful. If there is an ounce of life still left in ya, hopefully God sees fit to get you to the hospital before you expire. If not, rest assured, once your corpse is in the hearse those TN drives will kindly let you pass.Report

  13. Protip: “Clique” is not pronounced “click”.Report