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Musing: Crosswalk Hazards
For the most part, our neighborhood greenway snakes through the forest behind houses, a serene setting that makes for a relaxing stroll. We enjoy it twice a day as we walk our dogs.
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to emerge from the woods. When the path navigates over one of the neighborhood streets, a crosswalk with warning signs, a speed hump, and painted markers indicates to drivers that pedestrians may be present. State law and common courtesy requires vehicles to yield to anyone on foot.
The vast majority of people obey. No matter what urgent task they are off to handle, they can wait for the half-minute it takes for us to go on our way. We always wave our thanks to show our appreciation.
Today’s post isn’t focused on the many, but the few who refuse to yield. We make it a point to never step into the road until we are positive the driver will stop. By looking them directly in the eye as they approach, we can read their intentions.
For those few who ignore the rules, we’ve been able to group them into buckets. To help you spot them in the wild, allow me to share my identification clusters.
E.T. Phone Home: The driver who is far more interested in his phone than the hazards in the road.
They are easy to spot because their eyes are cast down at the phone they have “hidden” in their lap. All drivers glance away from the road at times, but this group focuses on that precious electronic. The text, email, or TikTok video is far more important than actually watching the road.
If asked, this person isn’t oblivious to the dangers of looking at their phone while driving. They often rant about others doing it. The problem is that they consider themselves to be the exception—the person who can drive and text simultaneously.
Part of that belief comes from the fact they never know they almost hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk because they never saw one there. That knowledge would have required them to look up long enough to be aware.
Don’t make eye contact: The driver who stares straight ahead to avoid any eye contact with a person attempting to cross a road.
This driver is watching the road. Only the road. As long as they don’t connect visually with a pedestrian, they don’t have to acknowledge their presence. This is basically reverse camouflage. If I can’t see you, you don’t exist.
Shock and Awe: This driver will look you right in the eye… as they whiz through the crosswalk.
Their wide eyes and even wider mouth held open in shock indicates their extreme surprise. After all, who would expect to see someone walking? Especially in a crosswalk? They are stunned at your mere existence.
If only someone would make those bright yellow signs with a person walking more visible, maybe this driver wouldn’t be so surprised.
Chatty Cathy (or Carl): This person is deeply focused… on the conversation they are having with their passengers.
The stories being told in the car are funny, or the argument is intense, or the kids in the backseat need to be lectured. During the all-important conversation, though, they are not aware of anyone outside their vehicle.
Fortunately, if they do hit a pedestrian, they can blame it on the passengers for distracting them.
The Zombie: Easily identified by the blank stare, this person hasn’t quite awakened yet, or is reviewing the pending to-do list at work, or is planning the grocery list, or doing any of a thousand tasks outside the car. Whatever the distraction, they aren’t aware a person is crossing in front of their car. Or aware they are driving. Or aware of much of anything else.
The Makeup Artist To this driver, the real purpose of the rearview mirror is to style hair, apply makeup, or check for blemishes. When one needs to look their best, who has time to pay attention to others?
By the way, this category is no more restricted to one sex than is the Chatty Cathy (or Carl). Many a man has been tousling his hair as he flies by, unaware of a person on foot.
Tour de France: This unique creature isn’t found operating a car. Rather, they are pedaling a bicycle. Pedaling it quite fast, in fact, far above the speed limit of a residential street.
Identified by their bright plumage to indicate their superiority to bicyclists who obey the law, drivers with their mere automobiles, or virtually any other human, they know that no law applies to them. They don’t have to stop at stop signs or traffic lights, and they certainly don’t have to yield to pedestrians.
This creature is particularly challenging because they tend to travel in herds.
The Center Of The Universe: Ah, that special driver. They are the best driver in the world. Just ask them and they will tell you.
If only everyone else learned to drive and get out of their way, their world would be better. And, yes, that includes pedestrians because they shouldn’t get in front of their car and slow them down.
Conclusion: Yes, please give us mere pedestrians half a chance. We know that almost all of you do. Sadly, the few who don’t probably won’t pay attention to my plea anyway.
Have I missed any, Dear Readers? Please don’t hesitate to add your suggestions in the comments.
Enjoyed the Story? Try a Novel
If you enjoyed today’s musing, please consider reading one of my novels. Each standalone book tells the story of big lives in a small town, ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges.
Gratuitous Dog Photo: Not Siberian Husky Cold
Our temperatures never rose above freezing yesterday. When I suggested to the dogs that we should go inside where it was warm, this was the response I received from Typhoon. Ah, the joys of Siberian Huskies.
On The Website This Week
Spectacular Vernacular Word of the Week: Elision – I wanna ‘splain this word!
Thanksgiving is closing in (at least, to those in the U.S.). Have you planned your menu? Does it include cranberry sauce? You might want to see what readers think about whether cranberry sauce should be homemade, from the can, or absent from the meal.
If cranberry sauce can create a debate, what about fruitcake? Don’t miss the chance to weigh in on this holiday favorite. Click here to share your opinion.
Until Next Monday
Get outside for a walk this week, but be careful crossing the street.
See you next Monday.
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