In My Own Little World: Crosswalk blunders
I consider myself a good pedestrian. I like to think I’m the kind of pedestrian other pedestrians look up to as an example of pedestrian etiquette. In fact, I teach a weekly seminar called “Find the Polite Pedestrian Within” (Tuesdays at 5 p.m. in the Susquehanna Terrace).
As an exemplary pedestrian, I follow all the rules of the road. I use crosswalks exclusively. I wait for the little white man to appear before crossing at a traffic light. I look both ways before, during and after crossing. I even hustle up a little when I know cars are waiting for me to leave the crosswalk (a lesson many other pedestrians outside the Center for the Arts could benefit from).
So in light of all this, you would think I haven’t had any brushes with death in a crosswalk. Well, you would think wrong. But I like your optimism! Sadly, not every driver honors my code of conduct, or even cares that I have it, and that attitude is what leads to events like those of this past Monday.
My friend (who shall remain nameless for fear of “over-shout out”) and I were walking, talking, carrying on and generally having a swell time headed toward the Towson Center.
I still don’t understand why there are classes in the Towson Center. Surely there are other classrooms available on campus that don’t require a hike which is the approximate length of the Appalachian Trail to get to. Anyway, we were outside the CFA headed toward the Towson Center and had to cross Osler Drive.
Admittedly, this crosswalk is always tricky because there are four lanes of traffic, it is not at an intersection, and almost no one stops for you.
But I was aware of these things going in, and so I ventured forth bravely, looking both ways, standing at the edge of the crosswalk showing intent to cross, and getting that look on my face that says “Well it sure would be nice if someone came to a stop for us and we could be on our way. I’d be forever grateful to you.” (Read that quotation in a Southern accent for desired effect). And lo’ and behold, someone did stop, so I gave him the wave of approval and ventured into the road.
This turned out to be our near fatal mistake. Because apparently the man driving in the other lane was late for a very important date and thought the guy who had stopped for us was just stopping to admire the beauty of Towson University, so he came barreling down the road at a speed I would approximate at 299,792,458 meters per second (because I do most of my split-second calculations using the metric system). Now my friend, let’s call him Bob, was a little ahead of me and was literally inches away when Mr. “I can’t be bothered by pedestrians and their desire to keep all their limbs while crossing the street” came whizzing by.
I would like to say that I was cool under pressure, saw the imminent danger, and pulled Bob out of the way with my incredible strength before shielding him from the car with my body. And no, that was not a Twilight reference. Anyway, I did neither of those things. My main reaction was, in a cool, sophisticated tone, “OHMAGOODNESS! Are you all right?!” I was mainly concerned about his feet, because he was wearing those shoes that have each individual toes, which would not offer very much protection in the event of being run over by a car. As it turned out, we both survived (toes and all) and can now live long and happy lives with our children and our wives, assuming we have those things in the future.
The larger issue here is that there needs to be mutual respect between drivers and pedestrians. I have been on both sides of the coin. I know it’s lame to have to stop for people crossing the street all the time, and most of these people don’t even give the courtesy wave. Some don’t even use the crosswalk. But I think with a little understanding we can all come together and live in peace and harmony, unless you’re the guy who almost ran over my friend’s toes, in which case I’d like to give you a piece of my mind.
My random thought of the week is this: If life really was like a box of chocolates, I would get one of those boxes that tells you where the different chocolates are. Take that, Forrest Gump!