Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nobody walks in L.A. (Open letter to people who are unlikely to actually see it)

Attention motorist of Los Angeles in the right turn lane:

Hi there, it's me. The guy standing on the street corner next to you, waiting for the light to change so I can cross the street. (Yeah, I know: What am I thinking using my legs to get somewhere? You probably thought I was as extinct as the dodo, but here I am. Wacky, yes.)

In a moment the light's going to turn green for both of us—yes, it applies to me as well. Seriously. I see these cars going the perpendicular direction to us, moving across because they have the green light at the moment, and that's a big part of why both of us are holding steady for the moment. Anyway, I know you're just itching to turn right at this intersection, and I'm sure you're going somewhere with such urgency that waiting for those eight seconds it'll take me to get over there is too long a delay, and I'm sure that conversation you're conducting on your cell phone is a matter of great importance to the safety of the free world, but if I can have your attention for just a moment, I'd like to mention something that should be of interest to you.

When the light turns, I intend to step off this curb and stride out into the crosswalk—that's what that area between the two white lines running from this corner to the opposite one is called—because (I know this may come as a shock) I also am going somewhere—I'm not suggesting it's at all as important as your destination, but I'd like to get there. So if you could be persuaded to not whip across while I am in that crosswalk thing, that would be really swell.

I'm not so much concerned with pointing out that as a pedestrian I have what's known as the "right-of-way" (which is just fancy talk for saying in a given situation I'm supposed to get to go first). I grasp that your Mercedes—oops, I mean BMW (sorry about that mistake) is made to go fast, and that it outweighs me by a sizeable factor. I don't pretend I'm going to win any head-to-head battle with your vehicle. However, I'm pretty sure that the force of my body slamming against the grill and then probably the hood and possibly the windshield would cause dents (or cracks) that would undoubtedly prove to be some expensive body work to repair. If nothing else there'd be bloodstains, and you don't strike me as someone with time to make a stop at the car wash.

Beyond that, I have a sneaking suspicion that the courts would be inclined to find fault with you running into me. Oh, I have no doubt that you could afford better lawyers than I could, so you'd "win" in a lawsuit, but that involves a lot of going to courthouses and whatnot (have you seen what attorneys charge per hour?), and that would take time away from whatever it is you're talking on the phone about.

And if you were to speed away after I roll off the hood and land in a pile on the asphalt, that (if you want to get technical) is pretty bad in the eyes of the cops. And if someone sees you and mentions your license plate number to the police, they can find out where you live. Really.

So, if you could just hold off from slamming down on that accelerator pedal with your right foot until I've used my right and left feet to propel me at least part of the way across, it will spare you a lot of trouble later on. More than eight seconds worth, I assure you.

Don't do it for me; do it for you. It's all about you.


  1. Doug:

    For some drivers the term pedestrian is tantamount to "potential roadkill."

    The four times I almost got nailed by inattentive drivers were when I had the right of way in a crosswalk. I find it's safer to jaywalk than to legally use a crosswalk.

    One time a driver stopped in the middle of an intersection when the light changed. Instead of proceeding, she decided to back up, almost nailing me on the crosswalk behind her. On another occasion I was thrown back by a pick-up truck; the driver was making a right-on-red without checking the crosswalk.

    Plattsburgh's population is only 20,000 people. I don't know how pedestrains survive in real cities.



  2. If Plattsburgh's residents were more litigious the drivers would get more attentive.

    I'm just endorsing that; I'm just noting for the record.


So, what do you think?