October 22nd, 2012 / 10:51 pm

Elaborate Solutions to Problems that Maybe Only I Perceive as Problems, Part 1

Why don’t all our turn signals blink at the same rate?

That moment when I am waiting to turn left at the intersection and so are two cars in front of mine and three cars behind and all our signals are flaring and dying. I have terrible astigmatism, which smears the light across my vision. This effect is exaggerated by my dirty windshield. My light blinks and your light blinks and this light blinks and my light blinks and this light blinks and your light blinks. 1, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2. What I mean to say is that the order changes. The relationship shifts. Some lights are faster than others. Say yours is faster than mine. So there is a time where we blink in alternating shifts. And then there is a time where we are blinking together. And then we slowly shift apart again, back to the time where we are blinking separately. This makes me feel a little ill.

It’s bad enough they blink at different times. They should at least keep the same rhythm. If we knew, at the intersection, that mine would go and then yours would go and then hers would go and then his and then we would do it all again then I could prepare myself for the sensation. What I can’t live with is what we have now, where everyone is blinking to a similar but very slightly different rhythm, so I never know what’s coming next, or where, only that it’s coming.

But it would be best if all our signals could signal at once. “Left,” they would say. “Left, left, left.” And then these others, at the same time, on the same beats, would say “Right, right, right, right.” The ideal tempo is something for the Congress to determine. What we can do is we can build a little device into every car that receives a signal from say a network of radio antennae. Or possibly this could be piggybacked through cellular towers, GPS satellite signals, or etc. What the signal will say is, “Now, now, now, now,” forever. What the device in our cars will do is it will tell our signals when to flare. “Now, now, now, now,” they will say. When you flick the switch that activates your car’s turn signal there will be a very slight delay as said car, listening to said transmission, waits for the next beat. “…now, now, now, now.” And so the chaos at the intersection will end, and I won’t feel so much like throwing up when I drive. And consider, as an additional benefit, how beautiful this will look from the sky: the USA, as seen from above, will be bright, and then a little brighter, as collectively we signal. Left, right, now, left, right, now, now, now. Bright, and then a little brighter.


  1. Logan Fry
  2. A D Jameson

      I came here to make the exact same comment! Except I was going to use Reich’s “Piano Phase” as my example:


      Who knows, Mike? Without phasing turn signals, Steve Reich may never have composed anything.