Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pet Peeve of today

I live in what is called 'an urban village', meaning that the population is pretty dense, there are lots of little stores, and pedestrians, bike-riders and motorists have to keep an eye for each other.
I walk a lot.
This is what irks me.
I am walking along and need to cross the street. I stand on the curb (kerb?) and wait for the traffic to break, so I can walk across the street. Note that I am standing ON the curb, not in the street, not in the crosswalk, not in any danger whatsoever. Standing ON the curb waiting for my turn to cross the street.
Invariably, somebody, usually a middle-aged woman in a Volvo or a Subaru and looking in need of one of Peacebang's makeovers, screeches to a stop and fixes me with the self-satisfied grin of Bono handing out granola bars in Somalia. And she waits for me to cross the street in front of her.
Of course, traffic is piling up behind her, because to all other motorists, she has just stopped for no reason whatsoever. After all, I am standing ON the curb, not in the street, not in the crosswalk.
This irritates me, no end.
I appreciate that she is trying to do the right thing.
But, I experience the whole event as treating me as though I did not have the competence to cross the street on my own. After all, I am not a child chasing a ball into the street. Nor am I a resident of a nursing home who has wandered off in his bathrobe to look for his little dog lost during the Eisenhower Administration. I am a competent adult whose mother taught him long ago to look both ways and not cross the street until there were no cars coming in either direction.
Well, I used to just wave the person on, but that didn't work. They would wave me on in return. Finally I would cross the street just to satisfy them and relieve the honking mass of cars that were piled up behind her. But today, I just flipped out -- shouting at the lady, "I'm ON the CURB, I'm ON the CURB, GO, GO, GO."

Somewhere in my little urban village, this little outpost of liberalism, a couple is sitting down to dinner. She says, "the strangest thing happened today. I stopped for this man, who seemed normal, to cross the street and he got mad at me and refused to go across the street at all, just because I stopped." And her partner will reply, "It's a shame that they just let the mentally ill wander around like that. It's those damn Republicans who cut the funding for community mental health. I just hope that someone makes sure that he takes his meds before he gets hit by a car somewhere."

7 comments:

Clyde Grubbs said...

It was Dukasis who deinstitutionalized the mental health hospitals (big deficits from one of them "recessions) with Billy Bulger running the Senate and Finnegan running the House. No Republicans in power then at all.

Boston drivers make it up as the drive along sez I with 30 years of Boston driving under my belt.

Christine Robinson said...

Well, LT, I live in the Wide Open Spaces, and I'm always surprised when a person in a car notices a pedestrian at all as they whizz by. And when they do, they're usually folks from California, where stopping for persons who are waiting on the curb at a crosswalk is the law. It must be a well enforced law, too, 'cause they do screech.

I doubt if any of them are thinking that your mama didn't teach you to cross the street, so you can cross without any stain on your ego.

Chalicechick said...

My husband is a frequent pedestrian in Washington DC, where they, to put it mildly, the cars don't stop for you.

When he went to Salt Lake City on buisness one time, he came back quite enthusiastic that cars actually stopped to let him cross the street!

He loved it, but then, he was only in Salt Lake for three days.

CC

Adam Tierney-Eliot said...

I know what you mean, LT. When I cross the street that separates the church from the parsonage I always stand WAY back and pretend to be distracted by something in the grass (a snake or interesting leaf, perhaps?) while all the time keeping the road in my peripheral vision. Even then folks slow down to see if I will notice them and pranch, deerlike, before their car...

boyinthebands said...

Adam, thanks for the visual!

Doug Muder said...

Out here in the wilds of New Hampshire I see a different -- and no less irritating -- pattern. I'll be standing on the curb and a row of cars will go by without paying me the least attention. And then the LAST car will stop to let me cross. If it would just go on the road would be empty and I could cross at my leisure. But no, somebody has to get in their good deed for the day by "letting" me cross.

massrunner said...

Urbanvillagosis-distrust of others, usually in city like settings. The inability to accept the kindness of strangers. Best treated with relocation to less dense areas.