Things are gettin’ outta hand – Beside the Point

Things are a little crazy in the world right now.

My brother and I were having a phone conversation Saturday evening about that every thing.

It started with an update on my nephew’s Saturday Perfect Game baseball trek to Cedar Rapids where he faced a high school kid with a 95 mph fastball and a cutter or slider that looked like a fastball until it fell off the table at the last second.

That’s just mean.

Our conversation progressed to some whacked out coaching philosophies. Most of the time I’m just along for the ride in the conversations with John. I enjoy listening to him talk about his children – his pride in their daily routines.

But when I get a chance I take my shot. Like a wrestler who sees his opponent on their heels for a split second.

“I have to walk a half block to my car everyday,” I slip into the conversation like Ralphie from A Christmas Story asking for a Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.

“What?” he said.

I explained that Fort Madison is rerouting traffic down 6th Street by my house and has banned parking on the street to allow for the extra traffic flow. It’s part of the detour for the Hwy. 61 project.

Since I can’t park on 6th Street next to my house until November, I’m parking up a block on 6th.

Now with all the events in my life since 2020, I’ve taken in a little therapy along with a little Xanax – but even I’m not crazy enough to park on the north side of Avenue E.

Despite the city’s recent banning of parking on the south side of the street, motorists are still having trouble navigating that gauntlet without plowing into the back ends of vehicles innocently awaiting drivers on the north side.

It’s also perilous to walk across the street even with freshly installed stop signs at 6th and 15th. I don’t dare assume people see those signs despite the red flags sticking out the top; the orange squares indicating a all-way stop; and the unmistakable white S-T-O-P letters emblazoned across the red octagon complete with reflector strips.

You – cannot – assume.

Friday I was starting to cross E gingerly and I saw a silver SUV approaching from the west. They didn’t seem to be trying to slow. As they continued at about 25 mph through the stop sign, I waived my arms wildly and then threw both hands and arms toward the stop sign at the intersection that they rightly had passed through unencumbered for decades.

This very nice older couple in the SUV waived excitedly and smiled at me as they drove by.

‘What a nice boy,’ they were surely thinking.

My shoulders slumped, I looked both ways and trudged quickly across the street. If I’d had a yellow shirt with a black stripe across the middle, I’d have been Charlie Brown.

I went about my errands which included an Ambassador Call, a drs appointment, a trip to the post office and a stop through Scooters. You gotta try that turkey sausage whole grain English muffin.

On my way back I had to turn at 11th Street due to the road closure. But two others kept going trying to make a left at 10th, despite the big orange sign on the big orange and white ROAD CLOSED AHEAD signs and the MUST TURN LEFT HERE sign that you must drive by to try and make a left at 10th Street.

I chuckled, and turned and then went down Avenue G to the east where at 6th I turned north – after I had to waive ahead the motorist on 6th heading north who had stopped at the intersection despite the black bagged stop sign.

You get my point, and I get it too. It’s going to take some adjusting.

I don’t think, however, we should have to adjust at the westbound one-way on Avenue F. As I hummed along 6th to the north and proudly kept going through the intersection without stopping because I’m the world’s greatest driver, I found myself slamming on the breaks as a motorist in a gray, Lexus SUV (yeah, now you know if you’re reading this it was me you cut off) turned in front of me at the intersection without stopping – going the wrong way.

Now I can forgive not stopping because clearly there’s no freakin’ stop sign at an intersection for you if you’re going the wrong way on a one-way.

But I can’t forgive you going around me, when I stopped in the middle of the street with my window down and my arms and hands flailing about to get your attention – and inform you of your transgression.

That too, is just mean. And chicken.

Folks…it’s progress. We all win, when we all think our way through our day. And I was driving my wife’s car, so getting t-boned in the FJ Cruiser gets me knocked off the Christmas list.

Good grief.

And I have no idea what to do with these Stand Your Ground cases. Two shootings in the past 45 days and no charges because they fall under Iowa’s self-defense law. One was a father who got knocked to the ground by his son during an argument and, according to reports, accidentally shot his son in the leg when he pulled out a .22 pistol. The son was charged with simple assault.

That… right there… is already outta hand.

But that’s Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is the editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

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