March 3rd, 2004

Everyone In The Intersection

« March 2004 »

Memo to drivers and pedestrians: YOU ARE DUMB.

The urban four-way intersection is, in many ways, a metaphor for our society. Any given individual in society has a number of choices before them, and these choices cause them to cross paths with other members of society. And most of the individuals making those choices do so without looking, listening, or thinking, and as a result, make things difficult for everyone else around them.

There's even an analogy with the current political situation. As a frequent pedestrian, I would love to blame all the woes on those rich drivers, tooling around in their SUV's, talking on their cell phones about venture opportunities, not even noticing the common man in the crosswalk that they crush under their relentless, ever-churning tires.

But as a frequent driver, I would also like to blame all those ignorant, lazy, laconic hippies who stroll idly across the road as if it were a country meadow, pretending that hundreds of years of progress never happened and ignoring the RULE OF LAW.

I am torn, caught in the riptides of a Zoroastrian dichotomy of dumb. Luckily, I am quickly able to remember that, no matter what our differences, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, walker or driver, we are all, deep down, just human beings. And, as a result, mostly comprised of fucking idiots. And that makes me feel... well, not exactly "better", but at least more comfortable. On firmer ground. The moral quicksand and quagmire replaced by the hard, unyielding asphalt of rage. Rage at the asses whose phalt it all is.

So to all you behind the wheel. We, as a species, have been walking for hundreds of thousands of years. We have been rolling things around on wheels for tens of thousands of years. We have been living in cities for thousands of years. We have had cars for about a hundred years. You have had plenty of time to gradually work your way up to an understanding of how these four things intersect. So you may understand why I feel a bit upset at your surprise and astonishment that a person might be using the legs Darwin gave him to perambulate from one corner to another.

Shock! Horror! Even worse, INCONVENIENCE that you cannot turn your vehicle and proceed on your way! These damn walkies are taking advantage of the system. And these CROSSWALKS. Valuable street real estate being taken up just so people have room to walk! I understand your frustration; the obvious injustice of it all that causes you to protest in indignance by making sure you stick your vehicle eight inches into the crosswalk at every opportunity. Don't mind me. I'll go around. The head start those eight inches give you will be invaluable once the light turns green.

It's enough to make a pedestrian decide to ignore the traffic laws in turn, since the other side is gaining an unfair advantage by ignoring them. Which is fine. As a pedestrian, I break the law on a regular basis for reasons ranging from getting in from the cold quicker all the way through ensuring my personal safety by knowing precisely what the cars I'll be amongst are doing. But for fuck's sake, people, recognize that you're breaking the law and act appropriately.

First, stop sauntering. When crossing oncoming traffic that could CRUSH YOU at speeds between ten and fifty miles an hour, this is not a lingering situation. Do not treat crossing against the light, or crossing away from the light, as if you had just finished a meal in a fine restaurant and have just been served coffee and pie. It's simply bad manners to smugly take advantage of people's desire not to be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Not to mention risking your life based on the attentiveness, intelligence, and kindness of a random driver.

Somewhere there exists a perfect intersection, where pedestrians realize that a green arrow and a don't walk sign combine to form the message "KEEP YOUR ASS ON THE CURB", and where "Right On Red" does not mean "Honk at the guy on foot that's keeping you from your God-Given Right On Red", and people of all races, religions, and modes of transportation live together in peace and harmony. And maybe, someday, we'll get there. You know, once all you dumbfucks have run over and crashed into each other.