Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pedestrian/Car Accidents-A love story (not really, mostly a rant)

I am really sick of hearing about pedestrians being hit by cars.

What, in the name of God, is wrong with people?

I have seen many drivers blow through crosswalks with the lights flashing and other vehicles stopped. I realize that drivers can be assholes. I had one give me the finger, while I was in a marked crosswalk and everyone else had stopped. I won’t repeat what he yelled at me.

Every day I see people drive through crosswalks because the person hasn’t reached their lane yet, even though everyone else has stopped. Sometimes they are texting, sometimes they just don’t feel like stopping, or like they should have to.

Drivers need to own up and take responsibility. Do you want someone else’s life on your hands?

That being said, I am also a driver. I regularly slam on my brakes for people that step out in front me without even looking. They walk into crosswalks, or just into any random part of the street, while talking on, or looking at, their phones. Their hoods are up. They are chatting with their friends. They walk out in front of a parked vehicle and expect people to see them and to stop on a dime.

Don’t get me started on those who mosey across the street like they are on a Sunday stroll.

My favorite, and I promise I will swear at you loudly and slam on my horn when you do this, is the people who walk against the lights, expecting me to see them and stop while I have the right of way.This actually happens quite regularly downtown. 

I feel that when I slam on my horn and swear, thus scaring the life out of you, I am actually saving your life, because you might think twice about your moronic behavior next time.

Don’t get me wrong, drivers need to take responsibility. They need to take their time, pay attention and drive defensively.

No, I don’t take blame away from the drivers.

But here is where you lose me.

Why would you ever, ever step out into the street without looking and making sure there is nothing coming? Do we not teach this in elementary school? Is “look both ways before you cross the street” a lost art? A confusing proposition?

I have a theory that those who regularly drive are more likely to be responsible pedestrians, because they know certain things about cars. That cars have blind spots. That cars can’t stop on a dime (especially in wet weather). That drivers can’t see through other cars or traffic.

Drivers also can’t read your mind.  

I never ever cross the street, anywhere, without making eye contact with every driver that I need to stop for me to cross. I also wait until they slow down.


Because it does not matter whether drivers legally have to stop. It does not matter who has the right of way. It does not matter if I am in a crosswalk. They are in a car. I am a person. The car will always win.

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be alive?

BOTH drivers and pedestrians need to start taking responsibility and care on the roads REGARDLESS of who has the right of way.There will always be human error but there is no reason for the high number of pedestrian/car accidents that Halifax has been experiencing as of late. 

This city needs to start ticketing both pedestrians and drivers when accidents occur. Telling a driver they have no fault because a pedestrian walked against a light is not enough. The pedestrian should be charged, for endangering the driver’s life and their own.

Do not assume drivers see you and that they will stop.

Because you know what happens when you assume.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The lost art of manners

This past Friday, while making the trip home from Truro, I came upon a fatal accident that had just happened. The highway was immediately closed. They eventually re-routed us, and due to the addition of rush hour traffic, we ended up in a traffic jam like none I have ever seen.

I waited in four kilometers of traffic for over an hour, only to be turned around and wait in four more. This was just to get to an exit where the old highway was backed up from Enfield to Halifax. It was a nightmare and it took me over four and half hours to get home.

But I was patient, as were many around me. I wasn’t going to complain because, universe willing, I was at least going to get home, while two others were not.

I cried three times on that drive home. Partially from exhaustion, and partially because I felt for these two people and their families that I didn’t even know. 

But the polite, respectful behavior, and even a few smiles, from the people around me made the drive more bearable. Not so much once I got back to the city.

When I finally did make it back to the city I was drained. Emotionally and physically.

But I needed a new cell phone. Mine was dead to the world and I have no home phone. I knew it was Black Friday, I knew the mall would be insane. But I decided to brave it. Even though I hate holiday time at the mall because people can be assholes. It seems to come out more during the “season of giving”.

I braced myself when I was cut off in the parking lot and someone took the spot I was headed for. I held it together when twice a door was shut in my face instead of held for me when I was two steps behind. I responded with only a “you’re welcome” when the people that I held the door open for barged through without a “thank you”.

I stood in line for 35 minutes to talk to someone. That’s fine. I expected this. It’s Black Friday. I watched the two girls working get run off their feet. I watched various people push their way to the counter and demand that they get served without waiting in line. I listened to 35 minutes of complaining, bitching and moaning from the line behind me. I had several people push through the line without an “excuse me”.

Here is a hint to those who like to loudly complain: I did not want to be waiting in line either. I had a long day. I would have preferred to have been anywhere else. Listening to you complain, does not make the wait any easier. For you, or anyone around you.  If you do not want to wait, avoid the mall from perhaps October to February. Especially on Black Friday. The people working are not your bitches. They are people, trying to do the best they can with what they have.

Do us all a favor and shop online.

But I digress. Sort of.

When it was my turn, I gave the girl behind the counter a big smile and made a joke about the cranky people behind me. She looked at me warily and finally laughed when she realized I was actually making a joke. She looked beaten down.

When everything was said and done, she ended up upgrading some of my services without my asking. Simply because I wasn’t an asshole. I have worked in customer service and I know how much a smile or a kind word can mean from someone on a busy day.

It ended up being a decent experience because I chose to be friendly and polite. I never once lost my smile, even to the rudest people.

I will not get dragged to the bitter dark side. 

So I propose that during this holiday season, and maybe even all year round (gasp), we re-investigate the art of manners. The art of kindness. The art of patience. Because all three are tied together. The world does not revolve around any of us as individuals, none of us is more important than the other. Your actions affect countless others around you. It’s time we remembered this and became aware of it again.

Hold the door. Say “excuse me”, “please” and “thank you”. Smile at the cranky girl or guy at the cash register because maybe they have had a bad day. Maybe they are on the defensive for a reason. If someone is rude, smile and be polite back. If you find you have a long wait, sing a song, plan your grocery list. Or even take a few deep breaths and just be.

Sometimes it just nice to smile at a stranger for no reason. Maybe that’s all they needed that day.

The funny thing is, the kinder you are, the better it will make your day, not just someone else’s.