Posted by: thezedword | October 15, 2008

The art of the crosswalk

Whenever people ask me where I want to live when I grow up my answer typically revolve around three talking points:

1. Probably not in Florida

2. In a big city, e.g. like New York, Boston and Chicago.

3. Where I don’t have to drive.

A public Tauntaun

A public Tauntaun

These talking points are all interlinked. In a big city with public transit (busses, trains, Tauntauns) there are plenty of alternative forms of transportation. And I hate driving because I was raised in Miami, Florida, where a you have to drive everywhere. This is because the city is so sprawled out (of course, minimum sprawl compared to L.A.) and because it’s so damn humid all the time, if you even think about the outdoors, you need to reapply deodorant. The worst thing about it is that at night I think it can actually get more humid. The sun burns everything up during the day (especially our skin) and you expect a cool respite from the tropicality of the climate, but then your neighbor does the backstroke by you when you step out to put the recycling on the corner because the amount of moisture in the air makes you buoyant.

So, a place like Wellington is perfect. It’s a small big city, with an excellent bus system, and everything is within walking or at least biking distance. Like in any developed city, if you use your legs as your primary method of transportation, you have to use a crosswalk. There are two kind here. The kind where you push the button and wait for a red man to turn into a green man and then cross. Then there’s the ones with zebra stripes (note: these are not zee-bra stripes, but zeh-brah stripes in New Zealand), in which the pedestrian is God and a driver must stop. If the driver fails to do this, he will — sorry, I just had to get up and flee the computer. We had a visitor. Not many people here have dryers because, as our landlady Heather told us “it dampens up the air.” So when you do laundry, you have to hang it outside on the clothes line or a drying rack.

Fearing that someone may steal our clothes and since it’s a nice day, we leave the windows and door open so everything can dry and so we can watch to make sure no one steals my holiday-themed Old Navy boxers. This is of course an open invitation for flies and other insects to come in. I think the flies enjoy old movies, because I chase them around the room like Charlie Chaplin with some instrument (shoes are the best, pillows are worthless, I have tested both), tripping over furniture, screaming like a cave man and the bastards eventually lead me into our bedroom, where they fly out the window. I’ll go back and sit down in the living room and they’ll come back in the door, starting the whole process again. From now on when people ask me at job interviews what my goals are, I will tell that by the end of our time here, with enough practice, I will be able to catch a fly in chopsticks. So, just now, for the first time, a bumble bee stopped by to say hello. After I ran away screaming like a little ninny, Stacy pointed out that bumble bees, which are much larger than the bees back home, are harmless and don’t do anything but bumble. But at the time all I knew was this creature the size of a Volkswagen was flying directly at me and that it was out for blood. Or pollen. But probably blood.

Not drawn to scale.

Note: Not drawn to scale.

Now that the sector is secure (the security of it was checked by me using Stacy as a body shield as I reentered the room slowly and peeked around her until I was certain the bee had bumbled back outside), I have returned. Where was I? Oh, yeah. So, I’ve figured out the art of crossing the street. The obvious and safe way is to wait for the red man to turn into a green man, or, for the color blind, for the man on the top to disappear and the one on the bottom to appear. But if you’re in a hurry or feeling like a wild-and- crazy guy, then there is only one thing to remember: never cross the street alone.

Sounds simple and it is. If you’re standing on a corner and no cars are coming, be a rebel, stick it to the illuminated red man and cross that street. But, first, let someone else cross. You may think, “That’s not very rebellious, doing something that someone else has already done.” Perhaps not, but then at least you’ll be a quasi-rebel and safe. The trick is, you only let the person step into the street a few seconds before you. Then, when you’re both in the street, get next to him or her. Don’t attract attention to yourself by doing anything weird or smelling funny. Your goal is to stay beside this person, on the opposite side of them from oncoming traffic, so that you have a buffer between you and a car in the event that one with malfunctioning breaks careens around the corner full-tilt boogie whilst being chased by the police because its driver just jaywalked to get to his car.

Now, this gets difficult when you’re crossing a two-way street, as dropping behind and catching up with a person on their opposite side could look suspicious. (Also, you have to be careful when crossing streets in foreign countries. Learn the flow of traffic there or you’ll find that your own scream will be the first sign of impending doom for your crosswalk accompaniment when you thought you were safe.) The solution to this is to walk in a group and wait for more than one person to cross. A down side to this is that your chances of looking like a rebel are exponentially decreased, the upside is that so are your chances of getting hit by a car.

But be careful. There are situations in which this strategy is inappropriate. For example, if you are living with a significant other, do not let this person be the one who walks between you and the traffic. Your rent will double overnight.



  1. What is with this piss poor artwork? you went to college cant you come up with something better than that? oh but wait…. you went to FSU…. never mind that explains it…

  2. While my aesthetic choices are unpopular in the current academy, i’m expecting to be discovered and accepted after my death, when i will gain unprecedented posthumous fame and influence

  3. Ya…. your adopted…

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