Here’s looking at … us

The following appears in the April/May issue of Commonwealth as “First Word.”

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers. -Dave Barry

I challenged a friend of mine once, as we were beginning a four-hour, multi-state drive, to obey every single law – obey it to the point that even the most desperate small-town cop couldn’t find fault.

It didn’t seem that hard, because you tend to think of things like speed limits, turn signals, and stop signs, all of which were easy to obey. (It helps to learn to drive in a small upstate-New York town where cops will pull you over in a 25-MPH zone for “barreling though my town at 26 miles per hour.”)

I got him in Ohio, though, on a highway, when passed another car. “Gotcha.”

“What?” he said. “I didn’t go over 65!”

“You didn’t honk.”


“Ohio law requires you to honk when passing another vehicle.”

“You have got to be [kidding] me.”

I wasn’t. Silly law? Yep. Often ignored? Oh, yes. But still – my friend had broken it. He was a criminal. There are people who ignore traffic laws because they don’t like them or don’t care. (You know who I mean.)

There are people who break them because they’re simply not aware of them. And there are people who think they’re obeying them but aren’t. (In most states a turn signal means “I am going to turn.” For many Virginians it seems to mean “I am turning.”)

If you ask these people whether they’re good drivers, I can guarantee you almost all will say they are – although there are a lot of other idiots on the road.

Ethics and Realtors. Everyone’s ethical in her own mind (well, almost everyone), but everyone has war stories about the other guy who bends, breaks, or twists the rules. Would a moment of self-examination be a bad idea?

That’s why we decided – on the 100th anniversary of the Code of Ethics – to offer a different way of looking at it. Think of it as a call for reflection. As you read the stories starting on page 18, think to yourself about how easy it would be to make mistakes and break the code, even unwittingly. And then think about that next time you see someone – someone else, obviously – breaking the Code.

The issue is in your mailbox, or you can view an electronic version at And don’t forget to check out our Android, iPad, and Kindle apps, too!

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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