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Order of the Unindicated Direction

I recently sat down with Father Bernardo Guadalupe Santiago, a man who claims to be responsible — purposefully and pleasantly responsible — for one of the more irksome conditions of modern life.

Irrelativity: Welcome, Father, and thanks for agreeing to speak to me today.

Father Bernardo: My pleasure.

I: Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?

FB: Of course. I am an archbishop of the Most Sacred Order of the Unindicated Direction. I’m one of the overseers of a group of brethren worldwide who work for the good of all humankind.

I: And exactly how does your order do this?

FB: Well, we have three basic practices: We comfort the downtrodden, minister to the poor and turn without signaling.

I: Ah. That’s what someone told me, but I thought they were kidding. Mind if we focus on that last one?

FB: Everybody else does.

I: Well, I guess I’ll start with the most basic question: How does not using your turn signal add to the good of humankind?

FB: We believe that we should all trust God to direct us. By not using our blinkers, we are teaching others how to have this trust. Specifically, we’re teaching them to trust God to direct them away from those who are trusting God to direct them.

I: Are you a monastic group?

FB: In a way. We consider not signaling to be a variation of a vow of silence.

I: Tell me a bit about the history of your order. I’m guessing you can’t have been around all that long. I don’t even think the first cars had turn signals on them, did they?

FB: Oh, we predate the automobile by many, many centuries. Since humans began using transportation devices, our order has been in place. Horse and buggy, covered wagons, chariots, rickshaws — our history goes back even further. A recently discovered cave painting in France depicts a rider atop a mastodon being scorned by other mastodon riders. We’re pretty sure he’s one of us.

I: What do you think about all the people who are not members of your order who turn without signaling? Do you consider them heathens?

FB: My son, it’s only people in our order who aren’t using their turn signals.

I: Impossible. Just this morning a woman was waiting at a four-way stop, and she turned left in front of me without so much …

FB: Sister Mary Louise Meyers. Lovely and devoted woman. She’s going places in the order.

I: Seriously? Oh no … I totally flipped her off.

FB: I know. I’ve already skimmed her morning report. And not to worry — we consider that gesture to be a thumbs up from God for a job well done.

I: But how can you be so sure that other people, people who aren’t part of your group, aren’t just out there turning without using their signal?

FB: Humans are capable of incredible atrocities, but nobody could reach that level of self-absorption and lack of consideration. Excuse my language, but you’d have to be a real jerk to do such a thing.

I: And yet your order does just that. Given all the annoyances, uncertainties and evils in the world, why would God want to add one more thing to the list?

FB: We’re just here to remind you that you can never be too careful and that your attention to detail can never be keen enough.

I: What about the people who signal and don’t turn or turn the opposite way? Is that your group, as well?

FB: Heavens no! That’s The Obfuscators. They’re a heretical group who take corporate money to fund their nastiness.

I: You don’t take any funding?

FB: We bake cookies.

I: Wow. Your insurance premium alone must be enormous.

FB: Well, currently none of our drivers are under 25, so it could be worse.

I: I’m assuming you’ve been driving most of your life, and you now look like you’re in your late ’60s.

FB: I’m 67 next month.

I: And you’re telling me that you’ve never, ever used a blinker in all those years?

FB: Well — once, when I was much younger.

I: What happened?

FB: It was an accident. I was trying to turn on the windshield wipers. I had to do penance.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays. More at http://www.barrysmith.com.


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