Friday, February 16, 2007

Making me CROSS(walk)

So on the heels of hearing that more people (at least in California) are killed in crosswalks than while jaywalking - here's more proof that He Who Loves to Jay, Lives to See Another Day.

In theory, crosswalks are supposedly designed to make it safer to cross the street, right? In reality, they offer a false sense of security and visibility for pedestrians. Frogger, anyone?

I used to (selectively) kick cars when they violated crosswalk rules (next blog) and common sense. Now, I realize that - with almost every crosswalk crossing containing unacceptable chances of death and injury, drivers who practice sensible and safe behavior at these intersections of People Vs. Machine are all too uncommon.

From Yesterday's Almost Hit Parade:

Picture me and a very Old Man attempting to cross Washington Boulevard at Culver Center from opposite sides of the street - WITH A SIGNAL. On my right, as I step into the street, I see a car languidly moving into the intersection, turning left, hoping to proceed through the crosswalk and head towards Sony. So far, so good, right? Left? Indifferent? So was I...

Flash forward a few precious seconds. The car is now out in the middle of Washington Boulevard and we're well into the crosswalk when the latest example of stupid, selfish, ASSuming drivers rears its ugly cylinder head. To give you a picture: The car is where it should be - minding its business, waiting for the foot traffic to pass. We're where we should be - IN THE CROSSWALK. (Here's where, once again, the bets get made and things get dicey. Fast. The Old Man is halfway to the middle of the boulevard and I'm AT the middle of the boulevard now which leaves a gap of maybe 15 feet and closing which this moron is now attempting to shoot. (Why do I think of bullets and cars as inextricably intertwined? Deadly power at the fingers of idiots? Metal vs. flesh? The inability of "Oops" to stop the Laws Of Physics in their tracks and repair all the resulting damage to flesh and bone and families?) Anyway. Just so you understand - she's not idly, casually, slowly taking this turn towards the gap (which might, in the moment, at least inspire confidence in her driving ability, if not her judgement) - NO - she's actually revving up from her rolling position - you know, the typical I'm -waiting -for- you- dumb- pedestrians -to -cross -and- just- as -soon -as -you're -clear-I'm -comin'- on- thru position (ie: the middle of the road) and gunning it like a hitter in baseball exploding out of his slow and expected turn a few feet off of first as he decides then and there to catch everyone by surprise and stretch a pedestrian single into a risky and oh-so-thrilling double. I'm stunned. I can't believe she's doing it. It's like the fat kid who can only hit homers deciding he's Charlie Hustle . It's a Volvo. You're a Mom? Are you kidding me? If she wore a different face - say Young Guy In A Truck, Young Gal in a Mustang, Cellphone User In A Coma, I might understand her - I'd certainly fucking recognize her having seen this crosswalk gambit too many times, in too many places, but look at her. Late Thirties - Educated, Upper Middle Class, Horn-rimmed glasses, Kind of dweeby and with a Gal pal, both hands on the wheel, perfectly sane looking. And STILL - doing this." At this precise point where the Old Man's life flashes before my eyes, I see she sees him and also see her now go into that doubly-dangerous Waffle Face. You know the one: the face your friends or siblings made just as their feet left the diving board and their braingears attempted to turn that routine, planned-to, perfect Jackknife into something else in midair. The look that hung there suspended between two beautiful possibilities and caught staring down frozen at the cold reality awaiting them. You watching bemused, suspended in time along with them, as their confidence went slack and the result was a gutsmacking, balls whacking hybrid of both maneuvers, an ugly and painful bellyflop smashup of mixed intentions and sudden changes of mind.

So,just as her Waffle Face pops out, all confidence in her ability vanishes and the Volvo seems to (ever so slightly) buck, as she now (far too late) starts to calculate just how close she can still cut it. I stop her. And seem to make the Volvo - if not her - change its mind. Even though she doesn't apparently see me, she hears my HEY - not screamed - just barked - and looks up startled, like the nice girl caught passing notes in class by the Substitute. The Old Man looks up from his shuffling feet as the car brakes decide to lock completely. ARE YOU IN THAT BIG A RUSH? (I slow to a stop now, point at my watch) HUH? IS IT THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU? She blinks at me like a frightened rabbit. Like I'M the crazy one. ARE YOU IN THAT BIG A RUSH? I repeat - just for effect. (I pause, stand there, reclaiming the area between the white lines for all mankind. Now she's uncomfortable. Awwww. Silly Rabbit. Tricks are for you. I can see/feel her friend muttering shit under her breath about me, a "Yeah, yeah, buddy, whatever." I stare on at the driver, from behind my bugeye, black sunglasses and she looks back at me, blankly, busted. I point at my head as I pass her bumper and The Old Man reaches safety THINK! (disgusted) MAN... (shake head as I walk away). The Volvo skulks past.

Day in, day out, people driving 3000 pound missiles around and how many of them are doing so consciously? Consistently? Even in f'n crosswalks. Terrifying. And they're they go zzzzzoooooom...crossing the line(s) of right and wrong and gambling with your life as they roll on through their deluded dayze. I'm inclined to agree with the statistics and take my own proactive chance where i can with jaywalking, picking my time and place to leap across the squash zone rather than rely on rules no one gives a damn about and the Average Driver.

Me, angry? No, me cross. Safely.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Weren't "nathan" goin' on here fer awhile...

Yes. it's official. Regarding this blog - the wheels definitely fell off.
But now they're back on and so am I. Obviously, I wasn't driven to post anything and...
if it takes a few gratuitous puns and clumsy transportation metaphors to get back up to speed, so be it, damn it!

Let's's February 12th. WTF??!!! FEBRUARY?!!! How long HAVE I been away? Did I miss the Super Bowl?!(Hey - speaking of cars - maybe they should change his name to "Wrecks" Grossman. Or rename the mistake-prone Ursines as DUH Bears.) The answer: no - I didn't. But in the interim,I did miss a wide variety of buses, MTA, Culver and Blue, too. And by that much. But I didn't miss everything...

Some random observations from the field:

Despite the warning posted to the contrary, every bus driver I meet loves to talk. As long as you don't stand in front of their mirror.

I'm starting to learn their names. (Their routes, no. Thank goodness, the paper maps on board give me one more way to avoid the Internet.)

I'm beginning to see the wisdom in the monthly pass and the complete lack-thereof in the "in-flight entertainment" playing on the bus monitors. (Oooh - an idea for the next blog! I am soooo BACK!) Of the bus, that is. Where it doesn't smell like ass. Much. (Too bad, I can't say the same for those puns and metaphors.)