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Cannon: Help, Mr. Peabody. The light's green but I'm still waiting to go

Published April 30, 2014 7:42 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Good morning, Tribune readers! Peabody here. I'd like you to step into the WABAC machine with my boy, Sherman, and me so that you can see how automobiles used to respond at intersections with stoplights.

Ready? Excellent!

Yes. Here we are! The year is 1972. Richard Nixon is in the White House calling the shots. Marlon Brando is on the big screen with cotton in his mouth, making people offers they can't refuse. Steve McGarrett is on TV, keeping the streets of Honolulu safe. Jane Fonda is in Hanoi, bonding with the North Vietnamese. Michael Jackson is on the radio singing a song about someone named Ben, who's a rat. Literally.

Meanwhile, Ann Cannon is in Utah County, learning how to drive a car and also making her father wish that teenage girls had never been invented!

In particular, Ann's father objects to the way she responds whenever they approach an intersection. Just the other day she kept right on going, even though her father told her TO STOP because the light was yellow. Ann is like that sometimes — disinclined to listen to hysterical fathers in passenger seats. But on this occasion (Ann and her father were headed to Carson's Market to collect the deposit on empty pop bottles) she could tell he really, really, really meant it.

So she slammed on the brakes. In the middle of the intersection. Thus pitching her father (and approximately 1,000 empty bottles) into the windshield. For as long as she lives, Ann will never forget what her father looked like with approximately 1,000 empty bottles sailing past his ears.

"WHY DID YOU STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSECTION?" he asked her. Pointedly. Also loudly.

"Because you told me, too," she said. "Duh."

Dads! What's their deal anyway?

But whatever.

The problem is that Ann hates to sit still, which is why she doesn't usually stop for yellow lights. It's also the reason she likes to gun the engine and race like a jackrabbit on Adderall out into the intersection as soon as the light turns green.

She's not the only driver who does this. In 1972, everyone puts the pedal to the metal as soon as the light changes. It's like the beginning of the Indy 500, right there at the intersection of Center Street and University Avenue.

Remember those days? When cars actually moved as soon as the light changed?

Now you have to wait at an intersection after a light changes. You have to wait, wait and also wait. Sometimes you even have to honk your horn to tell the driver in front of you to get a move on after the light turns green. Sometimes you even have to honk your horn at the same driver over and over as the two of you hit every intersection along Ninth East.

So what's changed?

Thanks to my massive, supersmart dog brain I have discovered the answer, which is this: Back in 1972, drivers weren't pulling out their cellphones to check for messages every time they stopped at a traffic light. Cellphones hadn't been invented yet. So drivers just sat in their cars and listened to Michael Jackson sing love songs to his pet rat.

Ben, the two of us need look no more.

We both found what we were looking for. …

AAUGH! No wonder drivers were in a hurry to get moving again. But that's not the point. The point is this: Absolutely NOBODY needs to check for email or text messages while driving a car. Please let them wait. So I don't have to.


Mr. Peabody