Tales of an addiction

Most days this is all I see as I drive down the road.
Photo: John Mueller

Oppo, I have a problem.

I have often made comments about my habit of alerting people to bad brake lights, and touched on it in part 2 of my Jeep Experience series.


I haven’t (yet) started collecting statistics, but I can tell you it’s very rare for me to go a day without at least attempting to let someone know they have a bad brake light. Most days I let several people know.

Seems good, right? Police can’t be everywhere and they have other priorities; besides, this saves people a ticket, and might prevent an accident.

It threatens to become all-consuming, however. Let me recap a few of yesterday’s highlights.


On the way to work: a guy with no brake lights at all. Oops. Fortunately managed to verify it and let him know.

On the way to my mom’s after work: two cars each with two brake lights out. Both drivers were Hispanic, so I pulled out the one Spanish phrase I’ve learned: luz de frena. “Dos luz de frena” I intermingled with my attempts in English to tell them what was wrong, but both times we were starting to move again after a stoplight and I honestly have no idea if either driver figured out what I was trying to say.


On the way home after visiting with my mom: one possible no-brake-light older SUV that blew through a yellow light I wasn’t willing to chase (it’s not easy to verify someone doesn’t have any brake lights, so that one was just flagged as a potential) and then saw another SUV with two brake lights out.

I followed that last SUV into a grocery store parking lot to let them know (and in doing so, really pissed off the woman who I parked next to; she opened her door and shouted at the many approaching her car with a grocery cart that they were going to move to a different spot. Can’t win ‘em all).


The twist to this story? As I was leaving mom’s neighborhood, I felt and heard a shift in the weight in my Jeep. Pulled over, checked my gear, couldn’t find anything wrong, so I drove on.

10 miles later, after alerting 2-3 people about brake lights, including that SUV I followed into a parking lot, and having been indirectly yelled at by a woman waiting for her husband to bring the groceries to the car, I finally noticed that my tire carrier was pointing directly behind me. It had swung open after I left my mom’s house and I had been placing everyone around me at risk the entire drive across town.


So, yeah. Please let people know when they’re having equipment problems, okay?

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