Stoplight Lottery

car blogStoplight Lotto - you know all about it. Because you've played the game, just as I have. Probably all your driving life. Traffic is light. You're approaching a stoplight. There is only one stopped vehicle in each lane. Which one do you get behind? You make your decision based on whom you think will accelerate faster to reach/exceed the speed limit when the light turns green.

This involves a lot of stereotyping, of course. About cars and the people who drive them. At this point, if you're a sensitive, virtue-signaling type, you may want to stop reading this article before it offends your sensibilities to such an extent that you're tempted to go perform seppuku in the nearest gender-neutral bathroom. Unless you feel such an act represents excessive cultural appropriation.

It may not seem politically correct but everyone I know plays stoplight lottery when behind the wheel. All the time. Personally, I don't use the word "stereotyping" in describing game strategy; I prefer the phrase "drawing on my enormous database of real-world driving experiences."

Sometimes, your stereotypical choice doesn't live up to expectations. Last week, I had to choose between a young guy in an F-150 and a mommy in a Honda Odyssey. The minivan-mom took off like a bat out of hell. Must have been late for soccer practice. Or pilates. I ended up stuck behind the poky pickup; the driver was obviously a stoner. (No, he wasn't on a cell phone.) Bad bet on my part.

Every stoplight is a new lotto game. Place your wager ...

Easy bets:

Young, wiry black guy in nice older Caddy with chrome dubs versus gray-haired woman with Coke-bottle glasses an obsesivelly cared-for older Corolla

Motorcycle versus beat-up Chevy Aveo beat-up Chevy Sonic with space-saver spare on left front

You win either way:

Grungy, middle-aged fat dude in primered '77 Corvette versus multi-pierced, community-college kid in ratty, semi-slammed '05 Civic with fart-can muffler; both are staring at each other while revving engines.

Tough calls:

Lincoln Town Car with handicapped plates versus loaded Mack dump truck

Elderly woman in Buick versus casket-carrying Cadillac hearse

Geek with Bluetooth-in-ear yapping away in a Kia Rio while waving his arms wildly versus blonde twenty-something in a Jeep Compass doing her makeup

Old, bearded guy in VW bus versus Ford Fusion with 'Student Driver' signs

Unkempt first-generation Prius versus school bus

You lose regardless:

Tractor with side brush cutter doing road shoulder work versus five Asians in beat-up compact four-door sedan

Ready, Set, Go ....

(originally posted 2/1/08, updated 10/1/18)


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The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

Spelling, punctuation and syntax errors are cheerfully repaired when I find them; grudgingly fixed when you do.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

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Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.


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