Picking Emma up from school involves three stops—all of which are four-way stops—all of which require much patience. Some background info on southern social mores is required, so just imagine the Bennett-Gardners sitting in their burgundy Jeep stuck in the endless loop of “You go. No, you go, I insist. No, I couldn’t possibly. You go first. No, you,” at a four-way stop.
In the south, people are polite—almost to a fault. It’s nice. A woman in Oklahoma does not change her own flat tire. Despite feminist protests, a man will not, not change your tire. In fact, he will plead with you to do so because his wife will not allow him back in the car if he doesn’t.
There isn’t a boy or man in Oklahoma who’s mama hasn’t taught him to open a door for a woman. If a woman is even in the proximity of a door handle there will be a guy running across the parking lot to get to the door so they can open it. It’s a requirement here in the south. So don’t even think about touching that door handle which is fine by me because door handles are germ central.
No one tells you to piss off here. Rather they say “Bless his heart.” This is code for what a jerk but I would never say so because I am southern and we don’t do that here. Then they smile and offer pie. If this person is really mean we say “I’ll pray for them.” In southern speak that means you’re a super-charged asshole.
That’s the problem with the four way stop. No one wants to go first because that would be rude. It’s required to do the Alvin and the Chipmunks “No, I insist” rule.
“Ugh,” I said, sitting through this ritual like every afternoon.
“At least in Oklahoma we still have manners,” Layce pointed out. She gestured for the car across from her to go first. They shook their head and gestured for her to go first.
“I would like to get home in time for dinner,” I said.
“I know, we could play Rock, Scissors and Paper then whoever wins gets to go first through the stop sign,” Emma said.
At that moment, another car approached the stop sign, barely slowed, then quickly turned, revving their engine and roaring away down the street. We watched with open mouths.
“Must’ve been a Yankee,” I said.
“Bless his heart,” Layce said.
“I’ll pray for them,” Emma said.