Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Pedestrian Power

There is a one-way street downtown which must be crossed over twice during the course of a day if you happen to volunteer at the Distress Centre and your primary mode of transportation is the C-train. In order to cross this one-way street, a pedestrian has two options: jay walk, or cross legally at the intersection when the walking-man light tells you it's safe to cross.

Which is the better option? Well, usually I choose the latter. However, this one-way street is not terribly busy. Plus, the C-train runs across it, sometimes blocking off all traffic entirely. And even when the C-train is not there, it is still a very simple matter to glance down the street to see whether any moving vehicles at all are in within a three-block range. And the little walking-man light is not in tune with any of these circumstances.

Walking home last week, I was stopped at this intersection, waiting for the light to turn. No cars were coming. There was a couple with a stroller across the street from me, also waiting, and another woman behind them... guess what, waiting. We were all waiting. And no cars were coming. Yet the light still didn't change.

So I glanced around for any police and, seeing none, I stepped off the curb, onto the road. And I strode across the pavement as if the bright orange hand weren't still glaring at me from the light post. Almost immediately, the couple with the stroller also stepped off the curb and began crossing. And so did the woman behind them - even though the light still said DON'T WALK. I had influenced those other people to cross the street.

It was a strange feeling. Usually, when I exert power over others, I am overcome with a sense of glee. This time, however, I didn't feel a sense of glee. I guess influencing others to follow me into crime just doesn't give me the same thrill that exerting more benevolent power does. That's probably a good thing.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Abraham Lincoln


Justino said...

I don't think it's that bad of a crime to jaywalk. Either way congratulations on persuading them.

art said...

Thus starts the decline of our civilization. At least you were not doing drugs or vandalizing cars.