pedestrian non grata

At the bottom of the hill there is a traffic light. If I push the button on the pole, the light will turn red, the white “Walk” signal will light up, and I can safely cross the street in the crosswalk. This is all in theory, of course. In actual practice, I push the button on the pole, the traffic light turns red, the “Walk” signal lights up, I step into the crosswalk, and at least one, if not two, cars promptly run the red light and narrowly avoid hitting me. This is not an occasional occurrence. This happens every single time I cross this street. Every time without fail. Frequently I watch people with determined looks on their faces punch the gas as the light turns yellow then red before they have even reached the white line. I then pause in the middle of the crosswalk as the force of their passing vehicle’s speed practically knocks me over. Other times the drivers wear blissful unconcerned expressions as they sail through the red light, very nearly running over my foot or striking my knee with their front bumper. Often one hand clamps a cell phone to a fleshy cheek like some vulgar plastic appendage, as vacant eyes either fail to notice the 6 foot 2 man in the middle of the street or simply choose to ignore him. This morning once again as I reached the middle of the crosswalk, a middle-aged woman in an SUV paused uncertainly at the red light for a split second before racing forward, eyes locked ahead with a crooked half-smile hung on her porcine visage. I stood so close I could see her pores. This light basically exists to serve the pedestrians, as there is no direct cross street that the light also controls. Drivers know this and so they know that they can run this light without the possibility of striking another car, which would thus put themselves and their vehicle in danger. But when the element of personal danger to one’s own self is removed, every driver morphs into a scofflaw on the roads. And who cares about the person walking in the street? They are merely obstacles in the way. As a pedestrian in a major U.S. city, I see the worst of this behavior exhibited in humanity every day and it makes me both sick to my stomach and sick in my heart.

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4 Comments

  1. i feel your pain. it would be awesome to carry something liquid and disgusting to throw at cars when drivers do shit like this. or, if getting to work on time wasn’t a big deal you could follow them, unless they’re like heading out of the city limits or something(!) and fuck up some part of their car. i’ve been close to throwing my coffee cup at a car on several occasions, but that would just be a terrible waste of coffee. sorry, dude. hang in there! :)

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  2. i walk to work every day and have experienced this as well. i have learned to keep my keys in my hand because i know i am always close enough to hit the vehicle and make a dent. it’s difficult for most to stop and protest. too, i am a fast walker. it saddens me as well, but then usually i find a smile behind a windshield another point in the day. i like to think things balance out. this i need to tell myself.

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  3. unfortunately here in the northeast there are no smiles behind windshields. after living in the South for so long, it’s still a shock for me to be back here and see how rude and unfriendly people are.

    Reply
  4. why are you there again? move to raleigh. we need more good librarians. seriously! i will start taking photos of smiles behind windshields and send them to you for enticement.

    Reply

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