I do not own a means of conveyance. Driving around here consists of asking other people for their cars, but as luck would have it, these cars are either unavailable or standard transmission. Therefore I’ve had to develop a taste for walking around. It’s not so bad; in fact, I find it rather agreeable, especially if it’s with good company on a warm day (do I sound like a Country Time lemonade commercial or what?)
While walking with Shareef Abdur-Raheem — who, though fleet of foot, has the alarming tendency to cross streets as if drivers in this part of the country are not public health hazards — I came to another startling, but altogether irrefutable realization: You have to be a dumbass to get hit by a car.
First, a word on people who get hit by cars despite being careful: I am abundantly aware that there are people that get hit by cars who could not have avoided the scenario. I understand that cars jump curbs, lunatic drivers take turns without regard for the arrow and some people are just assholes who tend to forget that driving a car is akin to piloting a very slow guided missile and should be handled as such. I know this. These individuals are extremely unlucky and are not the people of whom I speak (Sidebar 1: Still, if you’re offended, you have my permission to stop reading or even e-mail me. Upon reading what you have to say, I’ll e-mail you back, feeling legitimately sorry that I hurt someone’s feelings or didn’t present my thoughts well enough. After that, I’ll question whether I have the fortitude to be a writer and probably complain to Shareef and my buddy Bourbon Street because I hate negative responses to my work. Then I’ll call my parents and/or brother and express my concerns. They’ll assure me that it’s OK. I’ll continue to feel bad about it for a few more days, then, inspired by the criticism and motivated to improve my writing, I’ll feel better. That’s not a joke; that’s basically how it happens.)
Honestly, everyone — parents, teachers, D.A.R.E. officers — tell you from jump that you should look both ways when you cross the street. They don’t tell you to do this sometimes or that you can be more selective about this as you start sprouting a dirty mustache or developing acne. They let you know that you should be doing this all the time. I still do it, and I’m tall. In fact, I prefer to continually look as I cross because people in New England apparently fellate themselves while they drive and are thus, not keeping their eyes on the road.
So how do these people get hit by cars? Really, I think it’s a matter of falling into one of three distinct categories: Jerks, Idiots and Douchebags.
Jerks cross the street without looking because they have a certain contempt for it. They know they should look, but the notion of having to take time away from chatting on the phone or sipping on their chai latte (which I love by the by) to preserve the self is beneath them. The thinking being that because they’re walking, a car wouldn’t have the audacity to hit them.
Next, we’re presented with the figure of the Idiot. Sometimes drunk, but often just strangely excited (not cocker spaniel excited, more the general puppy excitement), they are a group that just doesn’t know better. They are singularly focused on getting across the street to catch a bus, slap someone high five or perhaps hump a leg. What they seek is across the street, and the fact that the expanse they must traverse is a thoroughfare for motor vehicles is completely lost on them.
Finally, dear reader, we must consider the figure of the Douchebag. A hybrid of the Jerk and the Idiot, these persons will bop along, ear buds in, taking very little note of the traffic around them until some force — be it love or a minibus — causes them to change their trajectory. They know they should probably take a look around, but the Jerk inside says “who cares?” while the Idiot says “happy thing.”
Whichever of the three they are, the fact remains that it’s often a person’s own fault if they get hit by a car. And please spare me the feeble call of pedestrians’ rights. In the moment of truth when the decision is between choosing your rights as a struck-down pedestrian or as someone who is not having EMTs putting their jaw and chiclets in a Ziploc bag, choose the latter.
Cars do not sneak up on someone paying attention. It’s the people that are NOT paying attention — the Jerk, the Idiot, the Douchebag — who get hit. There’s this unwarranted element of trust; people assume drivers will not hit them. Simple fact: Jerks, Idiots and Douchebags have operator’s licenses, too. Pedestrians and drivers have equal and opposite safety responsibilities. However, the outcome of irresponsible actions grossly favors the driver, i.e. getting hit by a car is not tight.
There’s no conspiracy. There aren’t bands of marauding Saabs and Chevy Blazers looking for innocent pedestrians to mow down. Cars, unlike people, are supposed to be in the street. Now, if you get hit by a car in a hallway, that’s a different story. But in general: the car was covering ground, you were in the path of that ground, and, after being struck by said car, you became part of said ground.
And just to prove my point, the other day I had a near-Idiot moment. Briskly walking (as any true New Englander would), I rapped absentmindedly to myself about Rich Boy’s crack-cocaine selling exploits and the undesirables who wish to jack him of his earnings (don’t worry; he avoids this fate and purchases a Cadillac), I walked into the street while the light was green. Had it not been a street traversed mainly by geriatrics, my ass woulda got clipped. And I too would have been an idiot hit by a car. And that would be embarrassing. How ironic. Peace to 8Ball and MJG.
Penultimate Thought: New Haven has better food than San Francisco.
Final Thought: They’re trying to send some message about black presidencies on “24.”
Jon Pitts-Wiley did not like “Cars.”