It seems pretty umm, socially odd, now that I’m writing this, but here goes.
Everyday, when I come out of the underground tunnel that we call the Van Ness-UDC Metro station, I have to cross this small street on my piddly little walk back to the apartment building. It’s really a pretty small obstacle to getting back and planting myself on the couch for some serious QT with a Kirin Ichiban and my good friend Google Reader. But the intersection is one of many on Connecticut Avenue that includes a left-hand turn signal for people that are attempting to get back to their apartments and, well, do the same thing I want to do.
I understand and empathize with these left hand turners. Frankly, I almost pity them in a way. These are people that obviously have to commute somewhere around the Beltway during rush hour – which would probably be hellish enough – but not only that, on my walk home, they are coming southbound. Which means they probably work at some firm in la-la suburb land. Plus, they have to pay for gas. (I’ll cut them some slack on the whole killing the environment thing, because, honestly, I’m not sure how much more they could take before offing themselves.)
The lights are a small concession for these poor people that spent a third of their lives in their cars.
Where was I? Right, crossing the street. So, as I’m walking up, just minding my own p’s and q’s, I always have to stop at this light – since during rush hour, it’s just not a very long light. Fine. I don’t mind waiting for cars – as I’ve already described in way too much detail. However, when other pedestrians get to the crosswalk, they usually simply just walk across whenever the light for Connecticut Avenue should turn green. Oh, if only it were that simple! The light for that left-hand turn always comes on. And you know what happens here – people try to cross in that whole “if we cross together as six people, no one can hit us!” logic.
I do not buy this logic. I wouldn’t accept this logic as a gift, and frankly, I kind of want to boycott this logic’s manufacturer. I find this logic insulting and I want it off my television.
I’ve seen the video footage of those poor women getting hit by that Metrobus. I know what drivers are like around here.
The hardest part to comprehend is that it’s not even possible to tell when someone is actually turning or not at the intersection. Every time I stop there, there is someone that I will brandish “the Leader of the Pack.” This is the same person that feels the need to budge in front of everyone else at other busy crosswalks (Farragut Square comes to mind), when a Metro train arrives at the platform, and other situations. This jackass decides the level of certainty that the people that want to cross the street have of making it. I mean, it’s always 100% according to this person, so it really doesn’t involve much work. As far as I can tell, it mainly involves just sticking your head out – usually with a cigarette in your hand blowing smoke into people faces – and seeing if there is a car with a turn signal on at the front of the line. If not, everyone go! If so, you wait, and the Leader then turns into another one of my favorite roles, the Stink Eye Giver. Basically, if a car is actually turning and making use of the light, this person will give it the stink eye whilst walking in front of it. For what reason, I’m not really sure.
This just furthers my dazed outlook on the whole damn situation.
So I don’t participate. I vote with my conscience on this one. I kindly wait until the little, white, illuminated man tells me that it’s my turn to walk, and also informs me of exactly how many seconds I have left on my journey across Yeazey.
But part of me knows that this Brotherhood of Preemptive Crossers is always looking at me like some sort of outsider, a rebel who isn’t joining in their little game, their union. I swear to god, I’ve gotten the stink eye before.
But you know what? I don’t care. Because someday, when I’m walking home from work, and some idiot steps in front of a 1998 Ford Taurus trying to get back to Van Ness East for some relaxing on the couch, someone is going to need to call an ambulance.
I will attempt to not give the stink eye as they’re loading him or her onto the gurney. But I make no promises.