Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why I'm a chicken when I cross the road

Some thoughts on not dying when getting from one side of the street to the other. I bring this up, because I think I've finally mastered a technique.

Many major roads are wide, with three lanes running each way and a small divider running down the middle. Yes, there are traffic lights. And most big intersections have guards with loud whistles trying to herd pedestrians around. But the little green man doesn't mean you have the right of way. No. Might is right. City buses, for example, don't appear to have to obey red signals; they regularly plow right through while honking their horns, sending pedestrians diving out of the way. I'm not even going to bother addressing the psychopathic bicyclists.

Many roundabouts don't seem to have any traffic lights at all. So the hapless pedestrian must weave through several lanes of traffic. My expertise at the Frogger game on my old Atari 2600 has come in handy.

When standing at the edge of a fast-moving river of cars I have taken to waiting until someone else joins me. Then I follow them across. Not just anyone will do, though. Teens and younger adults are no good. They dart much to fast. By the time I realize they've gone a motorcycle or minivan is barreling down on me. Instead I wait for children and seniors, because drivers seem to have slightly more compassion for those age groups. Most seniors are ok, because they move slowly and carefully. But others seem to have a fatalist approach to road-crossing, as if they're thinking: "I've had a good life, if it's my time to go under a speeding VW Santana taxi, so be it."

That's why kids make the best guides. They have more to live for. I do to. Lead on, little ones.

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