Monday, June 21, 2010

Careful crossing the street

When I was about ten years old everyday when I walked home from school there was a major highway I had to cross. At this time in the afternoon the traffic was heavy on the far side of the road and almost non-existent on the closer side, so I would every day cross halfway and stand on the medium strip waiting for the light to go green. One particular day for some unknown reason I decided not to walk half way today, it wasn't that I felt like being patient or lazy, it was an instinct that specifically told me not to. Moments later a car got clipped by another car going at high speeds and the car lost control and slammed hard into the pole where I would have been standing. It is not possible that I would have survived.

About six or seven years ago I was at the local mall having just been to a doctors appointment. This particular appointment was for me to receive results of a biopsy and after a horrible two weeks of waiting I just found out I didn't have cancer. I was heading into the mall for what I assume would have been a celebratory dessert of some description when I had a street to cross. It is a pretty quiet street despite being in a busy area and by the time the light turned green for me to cross the rest of the pedestrians had crossed against the red, something I rarely do, and especially here as there is a blind corner where you can only a see a car coming really late, I have seen people nearly hit there dozens of times. So I wait for the green and ready to cross. On this particular day however with my head in the clouds with joy of not having cancer and yet with the doctors still not sure what the hell was causing my never ending ear infection, just sure it was 'something' in their words, I waited for the green, but instead of walking as the little green man showed himself something told me to step back, so I did. In that moment a car coming around the blind corner realized he hadn't made the orange light but was in no position to stop for the red and to compensate for his error and try to get through the intersection as fast as humanly possible he instead sped up and took the corner as close as he possibly could meaning he clipped the gutter and missed me by less than an inch. Once again I would surely have been killed.

I don't know what this instinct was both these times that saved my life. I don't think I regularly have instincts which turn out to be nothing. I do have the kind of fucked up mind that I constantly can't see speeding cars without visualizing them crashing, I can't see pedestrians sprinting in front of speeding cars without seeing them hit in my mind. I visualize all the possibilities in most of the situations I am in. It is why I write and make art, my mind already sees it all so why not explore when I can.

So there is a corpse in the middle of the road in front of my building right now. A young girl tried to sprint across the road in front of a truck but wasn't fast enough. The entire block is marked out in police tape, there are cops everywhere, there is a truck driver sitting by his truck looking more distraught than any other human I have ever seen, and sitting alone in the middle is a girls body covered in a white sheet. Dead to save two minutes waiting for the lights.

I know a lot of people who take big risks driving and crossing the street to save a little time here and there. I can't do it, I see the possibilities with my mind, and once I have seen the potential to end up a corpse I can't take those risks.

I used to say that I had discovered patience, but I don't think that is what it is. It's purely a discovery of the death of my youthful stupidity.

I don't know what it is about cars which make people take such risks around them. Everyone thinks it wont happen to them. Yet people die in car accidents or being hit as pedestrians over and over and over and over again. And I hate it. It makes me mad and it makes me sad. I've learned to really dislike cars. My instincts tell me if I didn't it would kill me. I drive as little as possible, and hope to one day stop driving altogether. I dream of a carless society with amazing public transport which is safe and quick.

In the mean time we all have to live with cars. They dominate our lives. Still I cannot understand that while cars pollute our world, cause wars and environmental catastrophes, affect the economy sometimes with disastrous results, and kill thousands upon thousands of people consistantly why why why, at the very least, can't we take away the licenses of those people who clearly don't take the responsibility as seriously as it needs to be taken.

Drink drivers, massive speeders, and dangerous drivers of all sorts get fined, sometimes lose their license for short periods, but we keep giving them back.

If we take away the licenses of the the worst 25% of drivers (which I think should be the minimum) then suddenly we have a huge reduction in pollution, traffic gets way better, driving becomes massively safer, plus these people now in need of alternatives start using trains and buses which injects cash and forces governments to improve the facilities, which leads to other drivers more willing to use them, and we get a whole movement towards a better system. At least as far as I am concerned.

Anyway, its not going to happen. So instead I continue to be safe as best I can, I hope you do the same, especially my friends who I know do not, and I worry for them. Until you do I will continue to have to deal with my mind watching you die thousands of times a day, and I'll get back to twisting the crazy way my mind works into bat shit insane comedy :)