No, I’m not addressing the currently raging coronavirus or the global pandemic it’s caused. Although I could be addressing Covid-19. I guess I’m grateful to the virus for having spared me so far.
I’m addressing a group of people to whom I’ve said this line for years: Careless, self-obsessed drivers. Drivers who endanger my life every time I walk on the streets of my city.
I usually utter this line when I manage to avoid being killed by the tons of steel propelled by drivers who are far more concerned with speedily reaching their destinations than with preserving the lives of their fellow human beings.
Pedestrian safety is a huge concern, but I won’t dwell on the harrowing statistics. These sobering statistics reveal the enormous number of pedestrian deaths and injuries caused by automobiles. But I’ll save those details for another day.
Today I’m focusing on my valiant attempts to preserve my own life.
Every day, I walk about six or eight long city blocks to and from my home, for a total of at least twelve blocks. As I walk, I traverse three busy streets that border my neighborhood. My current route is somewhat new, the result of recent lifestyle changes. But I’ve always walked a great deal along a number of streets in my mostly quiet neighborhood.
And I’ve always tried to protect myself by making some sort of contact with drivers. I’ve waved scarves and colorful tote bags to alert drivers to my presence. And I’ve tried to make eye contact. Especially when I’ve been crossing at a busy intersection.
Thanks to the pandemic, traffic has been less than usual, especially on quiet residential streets.
But three nearby streets, although less filled with traffic than they previously were, still attract fast and careless drivers. Every time I approach an intersection along these streets, I hesitate.
I’m a fast walker. I never saunter, and I dislike the walkers who do. I always prefer to walk briskly.
Nevertheless, my survival is at stake. As I enter the crosswalk, I justifiably worry that a reckless driver won’t hesitate to make a barreling turn that will hit me.
Even though the traffic signals are on my side: the walk sign is flashing and the traffic-signal light is glowing a bright green.
I’ve taken to carrying even more garish tote bags, boldly swinging them in the hope that their gaudy colors will increase my visibility and thereby save my life.
That’s why I mutter my satiric thank-you line to many drivers–but especially to those who inch forward, aiming to make a fast turn in front of me. Most of them leave me only one or two inches of space as his or her car whizzes through the crosswalk.
Brother, can you spare another inch?
I know that I’m a stumble away from perishing in that crosswalk because if I stumble, I’ll be the victim of a massive assault on my body by the turning vehicle.
So, each time I cross successfully, I thank my lucky stars that I’ve survived one more time. Once I reach the safety of the sidewalk, I can finally breathe a massive sigh of relief.
And I’ll say my satiric thank-you line one more time.
Of course, now wearing a mask, as I have for the past few months, I know the driver will never hear me.
But I’ll say it anyway.
Hey, careless driver: “Thank you for not killing me.”