At the Crosswalk

 Posted by at 10:10 am  Add comments
Feb 192011

Instead of going out for lunch, I often go out walking. As I did today. Down the trail where it crosses Tuckerman, there’s a crosswalk. A sign informs motorists: “State Law. Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk.” There is no traffic light or regular stop sign here, and cars whiz by in full stride. Today I stood there helpless and watching, head jerking left to right and right to left, watching for an opening, despite the Maryland state law warning standing right beside me.

Crosswalk signThere are motorists around here who are never ever pedestrians. They drive everywhere they go. Many drive BMWs, Hummers, pricey sports cars, restored classics, and Jeeps that will never see a mud hole. Some live in nearby apartments that rent you one bedroom for $3200 a month.

There are pedestrians around here who are never motorists.  They walk, ride bicycles, take buses and trains. Some work directly or indirectly for the motorists who are never pedestrians. They build roads, clean houses, grow food, care for children, work in hospitals, and do other unimportant jobs. They do work that the motorists who are never pedestrians do not wish to do.

There at the Tuckerman crosswalk I am a pedestrian who is often a motorist like them. But the motorists do not know this. The motorists may assume me to be something I am not. Perhaps if there were some way I could let the motorists know that I am one of them they would stop and let me across as the state law requires.

The state law is a curious thing. It is on the books and on the sign beside me, but the motorists pay no attention to it. Now and then, after one of them passes, I see her look back in the rear view mirror. Perhaps looking to see if police were around, like you do when you go through a traffic light on red. Or perhaps feeling a little guilty, but then deciding she did the right thing because had she stopped the cars behind her would have been mad and blown their horns.

Maybe there should not be a state law for the Tuckerman crosswalk. Maybe the sign should read: “State suggestion: stop for pedestrians in crosswalk if you feel like it.” Or no sign at all.

We certainly do have lots of lawmakers making laws about all sorts of things. There are new signs here about it being illegal to text or use a cellphone while driving. Someone is proposing to make it illegal for baseball players to chew tobacco while playing. They claim it is unhealthy and sends a bad message to kids. If we pass a law against everything that’s unhealthy and a bad message to kids there will be a lot more laws than there now are.

I am not a fan of laws to regulate the choices people make about their lives, unless those choices do harm to others. When I rode a motorcycle my friends were sometimes surprised that I oppose mandatory helmet laws for these riders. They’d say, “But a helmet would protect you if you were in an accident.” And I would ask if they wear one while driving their cars. There was always a blank stare, as if no one ever gets a head injury in an automobile accident. If they pursued the issue I would ask would they vote for a law to require helmets for drivers and passengers of automobiles.

My point was not to say that wearing a helmet when driving is a bad idea. My point was that education and changing attitudes, not regulation, is better.

Although here at the Tuckerman crosswalk I’m wishing for some regulation.

Oops! There’s my opening. Gotta run!

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  3 Responses to “At the Crosswalk”

  1. I agree with your reply totally.  I firmly believe that's why our government, or the people whom I called the puppetmasters, are beginning their attacks on teachers and education.  They are placing the future of education in the hands of politicians.  They want our future generations to know only what they want them to know (nothing new there I guess).   I call it "dumbing down America".  In a few years our graduates won't know squat about how our government is supposed to work or how they/we got to where we are.  But, they sure will be good production workers struggling at minimum wage.  "Hey", they'll say, "I figure if I work hard enough, in twenty years or so I might buy a car!"  And this will bring manufacturing back to the U.S. so the CEO's won't even have to understand a foreign language to run their corporations and rake in the profits.

  2. Ed,
         I hope you still remember me from Soddy-Daisy.  I can assure you that the guys my age who you took camping & hiking with Mr. Bob as cook and campmaster have never forgotten you.  I've been enjoying your articles very much.  This article hit home very much at this time. 
          In Tennessee as you may be aware, teachers are on the way to losing their right to collectively bargain, to contribute collectively to a political campaign, to have a representative on their retirement board, and are having their tenure laws changed.  All this should fix the economy.  But in Sumner County where we live, the school board has spearheaded a movement since January (illegally) to refuse to negotiate with the teachers' union in the county because they claim the union does not have the required membership.  They do in fact have the required membership and proved that using the schoolboard's own payroll deduction records, but they simply chose to ignore this fact and since that time they no longer deduct union dues from teachers' paychecks.  There is a lawsuit pending against the schoolboard.  The teacher's union should have a solid case, but these days who knows?  My point is – in so many areas in the US today, facts no longer matter.  Laws no longer matter.  Peoples' voices no longer matter.  Politicians are bending over backwards to please the "bully in the schoolyard", corporate puppetmasters who have a vested interest in staying in power and they're adamant that God is on their side and they're more than happy to shout that at you in any debate or public meeting.  You'll know them ahead of time – they're carrying guns.  
         The result of the lawsuit to be decided by next Wednesday in Sumner County, TN will determine if teachers or any other union will have any rights by law.  It will, I believe will be a national barometer on the extent of peoples' rights in the US.  It will be proven weather or not we will ever be able to cross the street again.
         Thank you for all the leadership and education you gave to Mr. Bob's class.

    • I remember you and your family well and those days of camping and hiking. I guess we are tempted to think of them as “good times,” but need to remember these were also the days of the civil rights struggles and great trauma for many of our citizens. I think school teachers are some of our best people and it is sad to see them and education as a political target. Your statement “facts no longer matter, laws no longer matter, peoples’ voices no longer matter . . .” is right on. And you could also add that history no longer matters, because people make up their own to take its place. And even science no longer matters to a lot of folks, they treat it like an enemy.

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