Valentine: Engarde! Driving in Murray

Robert Valentine Senior lecturer in advertising

We are now one month into an exciting new semester. Most people have found their classrooms (although they may not use this information on a regular basis), made new friends, found a favorite restaurant and received their first parking tickets on campus.

If you are new to Murray, and if you have a car, you will be collecting a few parking tickets during your career. Get used to it. Your parking permit is a permit to search for a space, but it is no guarantee that such an unoccupied space actually exists in this dimension.

A handful of wise, happy people will leave their car parked for four years and are also lucky enough to find housing within a reasonable walking distance.

A much larger handful of not-so-wise unhappy people live close to classroom buildings, but insist on driving to class three minutes before the lecture starts. These people will be eternally disappointed, which prepares them for American presidential elections.

Most of us, however, will have the odd occasion to travel the streets and byways of Murray, the Friendliest Town in America. There are a few things you must know to safely navigate the Friendliest Streets in America, and here they are:

1. Unless you are at an east-west street with a traffic signal (or “stop light”) you must never, ever attempt a left-hand turn onto 12th Street (also known as Highway 641. Although left turns onto 12th are possible between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., they are usually a fruitless exercise in waiting without hope).

On Fridays, such left-hand turns are the operational definition of “impossible.” If you attempt such a turn from the parking lot at McDonald’s, your enemies will use this behavior as a sign that your are legally insane, and local courts will uphold the ruling based on that evidence.

2. Learn to use turning lanes. If you are from a small village with no four-lane streets, you may be astonished to find that some streets in Murray have “turning lanes.”

This is a third or fifth center lane that enables you to turn left, and may often have its own private traffic signal.

Take advantage of such brief opportunities by pulling into the lane when the yellow centerline turns white, and then turning left when the crossing street is clear and the green arrow tells you it’s OK to do so.

Please don’t sit there like an idiot waiting for someone to offer you a personal invitation to proceed safely to your destination.

If you find yourself sleeping in a turn lane, don’t be surprised if an actual driver gives you a friendly courtesy “toot” to hasten you on your way. (NOTE: the turn lane is not, as some people seem to believe, the express lane to Kroger.)

3. If you are lost, driving aimlessly about, looking for the large shopping mall, simply pull over, turn off the engine, and say to yourself “There is no mall in Murray.” Then go back to campus and look for a parking space which, in theory, may actually exist.

4. Whatever happens, don’t be surprised when someone stops to allow you to (illegally) cross where there is no posted pedestrian crossing. 5. When driving down a country road, don’t be alarmed if someone waves and smiles from a passing pickup. It is the Friendliest Town in America. Even rush hour is friendly — or will be, if we ever have one.


Column by Robert Valentine, Senior lecturer of advertising