Jessica’s Fantastic Guide To Being A Pedestrian!
HEY KIDS! Follow these rules and you’ll be less likely to die!
1. You are a squishy little bug. I am a hulking metal behemoth. Do the math. There are many times when people should be brave. The first day of school, maybe, or when your friend wants to go see Saw 3D for her birthday. Be brave when aliens attack or when you see a cute girl/dude at the library. Don’t be brave crossing the street. This is not the time to step boldly into traffic. The will of your warrior heart is not going to stop Mrs. Foster’s Prius from bearing down on you and rending your limbs unto the asphalt, and nobody will be impressed when you dart out, (because you can ‘totally make it’) only to find yourself a sticky pink paste in somebody’s wheel well. To be a pedestrian is to be cautious.
2. Crosswalk ain’t just for looks. Okay, you guys, if the street is totally empty and you can’t see cars in any direction, go ahead and jaywalk. I’ll let you. I won’t even sigh or go ‘tsk tsk tsk’ when you do. But when our Lord God created the Earth, He very carefully painted white stripes upon the black pavement, and He said, “Lo, for this symbol bears you safe passage from the laundromat to the Dunkin Donuts. Tread you here, and you shall not be hit by a Hyundai, nor a Honda, nor a Hummer, nor any vehicle that may roll along this Earth. Watch you for the blinky yellow man, and when he sayeth ‘WALK’, you may walk, but when the orange hand appears, and commendeth ‘STOP’, do stop and wait for the return of the blinky yellow man. In this, you shall go safely.” So sayeth our Lord God. Amen. But seriously, folks, crosswalks are where the drivers are looking for you. In an ideal world, they’d be looking for you all the time, but sometimes people are dopes. The crosswalk is a white stripey herald to the driver saying “DUDE WATCH OUT”. Take advantage of that. You can go the fifteen extra steps to get there. It’ll be okay. I’ll hold your hand if you want.
3. Nighttime is dark, and other surprising tidbits. I can’t count the times I’ve been driving along at eleven PM, on the way back from my blood sacrifices or whatever people do that late at night, and I have to slam on the brakes for some moron zipping across the street. People seem to forget that if you are wearing black pants and black shoes and a black sweatshirt with the black hood up walking along in the black of night, nobody can see you. If you know you’re going to be walking around late, try to wear a color that’ll stand out in the headlights. White is a good start, but I will also accept anything that you would not wear to burgle a house. If all you have is black, then A., get ye to the Ross Dress For Less, and 2., at least keep your hood down and your sleeves rolled up so that your skin can act like a beacon.
4. The suicide lane is not a halfway house. Next to my work, there is an office complex. Across the street, there is a Carl’s Junior. There are two lanes of traffic going north, and two lanes of traffic going south. In the middle, there is a turning lane, also called a suicide lane. I was frequently witness to people walking across the north lanes and stopping in the middle, biding their time until the south lanes were clear. Chatting on the phone, maybe, or sending a text while they are standing smack in the middle of the road. Hint: those yellow lines? They don’t really do anything. Cars can drive over those lines, and it is their prerogative to do so. When Billy Smith wants a burger, he is going to use that turning lane to turn, and then it’s goodbye Joe Pedestrian. Don’t hang out in the turning lane. It is not for you.
5. Sidewalks! Fantastic feat of science! If there is one, use one.
6. Eye contact. Say you are being a good pedestrian. You are at the corner next to the crosswalk in the afternoon. You’ve been waiting for a good five minutes, but none of these jerks are stopping for you, even though you have the right of way. You’re about ready to make a leap of faith and hope that the oncoming traffic gets the hint. A car is approaching…is it slowing? You can’t be sure. Do you:
- A. run like the dickens and hope you don’t get hit
- B. sigh and look down to find a new song on your IPod
- C. gaze with laser-focus at the driver, making it apparent that you’re staring
If you guessed C, then you are absolutely (and subjectively!) correct! What you’re looking for is any acknowledgement that you exist. A slight nod. The two finger wave. The irritable snarl that you are in the driver’s way. All of these things mean that the driver sees you. Essentially, you are saying, “Dude, I’m going, can I go?” and said dude responds, “Well, I’m legally obligated to let you go, so okay.” Eye contact is key. Make that connection and you know you’re good to go.
This has been…