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Nimbly navigating the mean streets of Durango

Action Line brings you, royalty free, the 2016 U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual’s 50 state demonyms. (Screen shot)

Dear Action Line: Years ago, I was taught the intricacies of motor vehicle movement on American roadways. This education included a strongly worded admonition to not stop in lanes of through-traffic.

Of course, several exceptions were pointed out to me. These included, among others, emergency vehicles approaching when you are not able to clear the lane, accidents, construction signs/flaggers, etc.

Does Durango have special rules for through-traffic lanes? I ask because along South Camino del Rio between Home Depot and Nature’s Oasis there are many merge/acceleration lanes that do not have stop signs nor yield signs at their entrance. Yet in my scientifically verified observations, 75 out of every 100 vehicles stop as they enter these merge lanes.

Is a special dispensation to stop where you want available at our local motor vehicle division?

Please help me to understand this as my doctor says there are no stronger blood pressure pills made, and while I can take low-sodium food, I cannot bring myself to forsake salt altogether. Also, and more importantly, my wife promised she will not listen to another editorial about the driving habits of folks along that stretch of road. To be honest, I’ve heard that many times before and, saint that she is, she's still around. But I really don't want to push my luck.

Thank you for your dogged pursuit of some sort of answer that sometimes clears up someone’s confusion. You Rock!! – A 2-strike (California, Texas) Coloradan

Dear 2-Strike: Well, you may be a latecomer, but at least you spelled Coloradan right. It’s NOT Coloradoan.

Quick quiz: What is a demonym?

Nope, it’s not someone or something that resembles an evil-doer. It’s a term for a region’s inhabitants. Folks living in Colorado are officially Coloradans, according to the 2016 U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual, which, probably just like you, Action Line has memorized. Or perhaps Action Line stumbled onto it online. One of the two. (Section 5.23, page 95, if you’re curious.)

Downpage from Coloradans you’ve also got your Utahns and your Michiganians (not Michiganders). And, this is weird, people from Indiana are not Indianans, but Hoosiers. And a Hawaii dweller is officially a “Hawaii resident.” Only natives of the state can be “Hawaiians.”

The rule of thumb is that if a name is of Spanish origin, you take off the “o” on the ending and add “an.” For example: San Franciscan, or New Mexican. Or Durangan.

Wait, Durangan! That’s wrong!

We’re Durangoans, as this newspaper constantly tells us.

Or are we? This just in from Tom Sluis, director of media and community engagement with the city of Durango. And also, it must be mentioned, a Former Action Line:

“Official and final word: We are Durangotangs,” Sluis responded “officially.” “Durangoans conveys an unnecessary amount of respect for people who are known to jump naked into giant watering tanks full of beer during Snowdown.”

As often happens, Action Line has answered an inquiry with totally unrelated information. Cauldrons of totally unrelated information. But who in the devil’s name is not fascinated with demonyms?

It was a long time ago, but Action Line seems to remember this question had something to do with flowers. No, that was a couple weeks ago.

Oh yeah, the driving thing.

To get right to the heart of the question, Action Line has a similar issue with his wife, who no longer provides adequate emotional support for the constant “why doesn’t everyone drive perfectly, like me” driver’s-side banter. 2-Strike, we probably need to begin a support group. We can talk about diet, anti-stress measures and maybe even proper methods for re-enlisting spousal empathy while surviving the mean streets of Durango.

Least important, there’s the merging issue. For that we talked to a pro.

“It’s called the acceleration lane for a reason,” said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Josh Lewis when contacted via phone near his office in Lakewood. “To get up to highway speed for safely merging into traffic.”

However, it’s not the cut-and-dry issue 2-Strike might prefer. Whoever is merging has to yield if conditions require it.

“If it’s only safe if you come to a complete stop, then that’s what you need to do,” Lewis said.

And it’s always nice when oncoming drivers ease off the gas just a bit to make it easier and safer for those merging.

“We do encourage that courtesy,” Lewis said. “It always comes back with those good karma points.”

Front Range drivers – all big-city drivers, for that matter – tend to be a little more aggressive than those of us Coloradans in the southwest sector. But state law is uniform, whatever part of the state you’re in, Lewis noted.

In Durango, specifically, the merging lane from Home Depot (River Road) onto U.S. Highway 550/160 eastbound is perhaps the most difficult. It’s short, and you’re heading slightly uphill into traffic that’s jockeying for position for Farmington Hill.

Good advice, if you can find the wherewithal to heed it, is to not retaliate.

“Don’t take things personally,” Lewis said. “It’s ultimately worth taking a breath and continuing on with your drive and your life.”

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. No, the U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual is not the final word on everything. But fortunately, Action Line is.