I had an odd thought the other day... probably nothing new there.

I thought about the future and what the kids of today will talking about in the future.

Let's say, 20 years ahead... the year 2038.

Just looking at that figure is enough to create a moment of science fiction.


As a kid I figured the year of 1999 was "way out there" but hey, we're well into the 30s now and it just seems to have happened so quickly.

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People of my vintage entered our own version of the 30s (in terms of age) and would bemoan what we once had and would likely never see again.

Like getting milk delivered to the gate in bottles.

And seeing groceries packed into big paper bags in the days when supermarkets were, basically, a slice of retailing science fiction.

You took your own bag to the grocery shop or the butcher and shoved you purchases in that.

Or they'd wrap it in a bag or paper.

And so it came to pass that the big stores emerged along with the ease of getting plastic bags to put stuff in.

They became as much a part of retailing as a trolley and today they are everywhere... even in the oceans, and that's what has created the quest to get rid of them "before it's too late".

Well, I think to a degree it is too late as it's kind of like shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.

They're all out there and they don't break down, and of course many great populated lands don't care anyway.

They are handy things, plastic bags, but they now appear impossible to recycle or dispose of so moves are well and truly afoot to ban them, wherever they can be banned.

So, in the year of 2038, I wonder if the "but 20 years ago" brigade will be remembering the days when there were plastic bags to put your groceries in.

But one thing the kids of today and the adults of tomorrow will not muse in remembrance over is the roundabout.

Not the playground one... the ones hosting what will (in their era) be strangely silent vehicles.

Because they started building these things back in the '80s so kids have grown up with them, and in time learned to drive on them.

Roundabouts... today there's a lot of them about.

And there are two really big new ones spreading themselves across the landscape around here, which will be challenging for the motorists best described as the roundabout-bewildered.

I suspect that when some driving instructors ask their charges what they do when they go into a roundabout they get a reply along the lines of "you go around it until you come out".

They would have learned this from watching what so many other people do at roundabouts.

They would also have learned when and how to use those intriguing things called "indicators".

While all cars have them not all cars possess a pilot who is actually aware of exactly what they are.

Combine that lack of knowledge with the adventure of traversing a roundabout with lot of other cars and bikes and trucks and things and it can get very interesting.

I don't think I've ever come across a roundabout which at some stage of its existence has not displayed little sprinkles of broken automotive glass.

Quite often, I daresay, indicator glass... which probably doesn't matter as they never used them anyway.

For me. the ones which create the real headshakes are those who approach an intersection and, of course, begin to slow down.

Slow down to almost a complete stop... often a complete stop... and then put the indicators on.

But wait, it does get worse of course.

I have edged up behind those who just simply don't bother with making the pretty orange lights flash at all.

There could be a huge almost lane-wide gap between the errant car and the kerb which you could use for your (indicated) turn left if they indicated their intention to right.

But then, without any notice whatsoever, they decided to turn left.

Had you taken that path you'd be having a chat with the panel repair crew within the hour.

So, for anyone not entirely at ease with the art of indicating or negotiating a roundabout, check out page 788 of the Oxford English Dictionary where the word "indicator" resides.

And roundabouts?

Head for the NZ Transport Agency website and look it up.

And learn.