Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dead right or dead wrong

You're acutely aware of the rules of the road when you're running, because it's a safety issue.  You have to know what an approaching car is likely to do, and you have to make eye contact with the driver before you exert your right of way as a pedestrian when, say, you're on the sidewalk crossing a driveway with a car coming out.

Today I was running up a sidewalk to a controlled intersection just as the light turned green for me to cross.  However, a steady stream of cars were coming up to the red light (for them) and making a right-hand turn at speed without stopping first (the rule for right-turn-on-red) and physically cutting off my absolute right-of-way to cross the street on my green light.  They were coming around the corner so fast and steadily that I couldn't make eye contact with any driver.

Was I invisible?  I didn't notice particularly that the cars had their lights on during the day because many cars have their lights on all the time now and it was grey and looked like inclement weather was imminent.

I tried to impose myself into the crosswalk and start across the street but those turning cars weren't stopping or slowing no matter how poised I was to take that final step off the curb into the street.  If I stepped into the crosswalk, it was clear that the next car was likely to hit me.  As I stood on the curb, unable got enforce my right of way, I threw my hands up in frustration and muttered something profane.  (I was on a run!  I had the right of way!)

The driver in the lead car which was stopped in the left through lane at the red light rolled down his passenger window and yelled something at me that I didn't hear clearly because of all the traffic noise created by the cars cutting right around me as I stood poised on the curb.  My first impression was that he had yelled, "You're really obsessive!"  In trying to cross the street on green, had I stumbled upon an entire band of runner-haters?

The situation wasn't making sense.  I could not cross the street due to the steady interference of turning cars blocking my path and now this man was yelling at me.  Then as my brain tried to process the situation I belatedly recognized what he had yelled at me, "Funeral procession!"

The steady stream of turning cars exhausted itself, without a single one slowing down a bit despite my proximity to nearly being in their way, and the man who had shouted at me turned his car down the street I had run up from his far lane and started chasing the procession of cars.

I crossed the street on the waning green light and continued my run, now off to a bad start.  I was annoyed with myself for not immediately recognizing what was happening.  If I had, I would have respectfully waited for the procession to pass before trying to cross the street.  There's a funeral home mid-block on the busy street I was trying to cross on the green light, and a cemetery down a mile on the street I was running alongside of.

Experience had just taught me one more thing about running on the roads, to keep in mind that a peculiar traffic anomaly might be something as unpredictable as a funeral procession.  If I had tried to force my right of way, not recognizing what I was dealing with, I would have been dead right, but also dead wrong.

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