[“Danger Dumpster,” Somerville, MA, December, 2015]
I wish I could get the chance to sit down and talk with the white, middle-aged, nicely dressed, Subaru-driving man who, making a right turn onto Somerville Avenue from Park Street on Sunday morning, got so angry at me for crossing the avenue, furiously pointing towards the lit-up crosswalk signal’s red hand. Our little chat could happen over a cup of coffee, maybe, or a glass of beer or wine. Because he seemed civil in the truest sense of that word, meaning as a fairly decent fellow citizen. He did not run me over or curse me or give me the finger. No. He was indignant at my lack of civility, i.e. my callow disregard for The Code of Behavior Governing Crosswalks. So here’s what I would say:
“I know, I know. You’re right. That “Don’t Walk” ikon was clear as day. But you know something? So was I (clear as day, I mean). Our impromptu, urban encounter was in broad daylight. You saw me. You didn’t even need to slam on your brakes. I was an inconvenient presence in front of your already slow-moving car for, what? Two seconds, tops? Another thing I need for you to understand. I cross that intersection almost every day. So I know that particular walk signal is close-to-useless. It can take up to 10 minutes for the “walk” ikon to light up. So on a blustery Sunday morning with little to no traffic I chose to walk across the street without permission.
“Thank you for not running me over, by the way. I am very grateful.
“I startled you; that’s the real issue, here, I think. And just like most of us, especially while driving, you reacted with anger. I’m sorry I startled you. And hope that the next time you negotiate that turn, you’ll remember what I said about that damned crosswalk signal and be ready!
“You seem like a pretty decent guy. But, I’m guessing from your righteous indignation that maybe you haven’t yet come to grips with a world that is cruel and gratuitously random and messy and unfair? Because it is.
“But maybe our little, no-harm-no-foul encounter will be an opportunity for you to begin to accept that? I hope so.”