Drive By.

Source: Whitney Museum

The bus was barreling toward the corner. So was I–toward the corner on the opposite side of the street. I got to my corner first and stood staring at the green light. Please change, please change, I repeated in my head. The light showed no signs of changing. Not that this is surprising. When have you ever seen a traffic light show any signs of changing? It just does, which reminds me of the joke, How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but the lightbulb has to really want to change. I looked over at the other corner at the WALK/DON’T WALK sign. Sometimes you can tell when the traffic light is about to change because the walk signal will start blinking. This one, however, was firmly on DON’T WALK, as were the signals on all four corners which isn’t surprising. Nashville is a city that treats pedestrians as an afterthought, if it thinks of them at all. As much as it annoys me when people step out into crosswalks and force moving cars to come to a stop I understand why they do it. If they didn’t they might never get across, but that’s another story.
Anyway the bus was speeding forward toward the green light and I started waving. It was a nice day and the driver had his window open. “Hey!” I yelled. This has worked before: I’ve managed to get the attention of bus drivers and they’ve stopped and given me a chance to cross the street. This driver, though, was happily oblivious. It’s not like it’s his job to keep an eye out for people who need a ride, right? And I have had bus drivers drive right by me even when I was standing at an appropriate bus stop because they had their eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead, and I guess I should be glad they were paying attention to where they were going, although there was also the time a bus driver went right by me because he was turned halfway around in his seat talking to a woman behind him.
And this driver sped right by me and I decided to take advantage of his open window and I yelled, “Thanks a lot, asshole!”
After the bus had passed I realized there were people standing on the opposite corner: a woman with a baby in a stroller, a whole gaggle of preschool children, a priest, a rabbi, and a minister, four old people who were the spitting images of my deceased paternal and maternal grandparents, and my second grade teacher, also deceased but still there on the corner. And if I didn’t feel bad enough about my outburst the sign changed to WALK and I had to pass by every one of them to get to the bus stop on the opposite corner.

8 Comments

  1. grace

    I don’t think most of my deceased relatives would be standing at the corner with a priest a rabbi or a minister…maybe a purple unicorn though

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If I see a purple unicorn on the other side of the street I’m probably gonna run through traffic to get to it because it’s not every day that you see one of those. Or maybe you’re lucky enough that you do see one every day.

      Reply
  2. Red

    Here in Vietnam, and in Taiwan, actually, traffic lights include a countdown.

    …I think, before we moved overseas, the countdown timer was being tested at some intersections in downtown Indy. Fun Fact: Indianapolis is a big test center for a lot of things, because Indiana is statistically middle-of-the-road for US marketing.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I guess the countdown timer didn’t test too well. I went to college in Evansville, down in southern Indiana, which, while not a big test market, seemed to be a test market for a lot of things, like McDonald’s pizza, which didn’t last long.
      And at first a countdown for traffic lights seems like a good idea but then I think about how many drivers here in the US would speed up if they saw the time about to run out.

      Reply
  3. Kristine @MumRevised

    No nuns?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      My sister was a nun until she found out what “none” meant…sorry, couldn’t resist, and also that joke really only works when told out loud.

      Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    I’m sure they all forgave you, Chris. Thanks a lot for this post.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Without forgiveness I don’t think I could move forward, so I thank you for forgiving me too.

      Reply

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