Transportation increases the odds of accidental fatalities. However, remaining stationary does not reduce the odds to zero.
–Tom B. Taker
In other words, getting from Point A to Point B can be inherently dangerous. Any method of transportation that moves your body through the physical universe increases the chances you’ll take it in the shorts. The moment you begin to move your odds of dying increase. This can take many forms. It may be a flight from Los Angeles to New York City. It might be your morning commute to work in your car. Or it could be as short of a journey as stepping into the bathtub. Or even just getting up out of your chair.
So you might think to yourself, “I’m not moving. I’m going to sit right here and remain safe.”
A nice thought. Except that death may still find you.
For example, you could be on the bed in your very own home when a sinkhole suddenly opens up and you’re just gone. Or, ripped from the headlines just yesterday, you could be standing in your home when the ceiling violently gives way from the impact of a jet aircraft. There are no reports of deaths on the ground in this latest incident, but a young boy did get nicked on his forehead. Come to think of it, the last time I wrote about this theory, I used the example of a jet aircraft engine landing on a house. As always I hate being right.
Being alive can be dangerous.
Maybe it would be a good idea to go for a walk, clear my head and think things over. (Hint: It’s not.)
Allow me to introduce you to the tough, mean and gritty streets of the Abyss.
Street. Let’s examine that word. Ponder it. Mull it over. What is it that makes a street so special?
I’ve got it! It’s a place where cars can often be found. Yes, that’s it. Now it comes to me. Cars can often be found in streets.
In fact, you could make an argument that streets exist almost exclusively for motorized vehicles. Sure, there are other “share the road” uses like possums, bicyclists, pedestrians, and yuppies with bottled water and baby strollers, but, at the end of the day, I think most of us would agree that streets are a place where cars can often be found.
There must be something wrong with our public school system because we seem to be churning out an awful lot of people who seem unable to grasp this simple concept.
How’s the job market? Are we able to domestically produce enough qualified candidates for the modern employment paradigm? Information technology? Medicine? Energy research? Are we able to keep up with the scholastic performance of other countries or are we slipping even further from our global perch of 13th place? I’ve got another question: Do Americans even know that streets have cars?
We’re in deep shit.
When I cross the street I like to remain aware of my surroundings and be mindful of the moment. I know. Call me weird! My subtle approach is a bit like a spidey-sense on steroids. I’m checking 360 degrees. I’m making eye contact with drivers. My device is turned off and in my pocket. I’m evaluating and calculating possible intent. That guy isn’t using a turn signal but I think he just might try to turn right and take my toes off. Just in case he does, I shall be ready.
Of course, that’s only one possible way to play it. Many people chose to improvise on the fly.
- A 19-year-old woman using her electronic device blithely strolls into a crosswalk where she is hit by a driver and killed. It’s called a “pedestrian vs. vehicle” accident. Gee, who did you think will usually win that matchup?
- A 16-year-old female student is 50 feet away from her high school campus. She sees a car coming but knows she has the right of way. So she confidently strides into the school crosswalk right in the path of the approaching car. The driver, due to the angle of the sun, is momentarily blinded and does not see her. She is sent 20 feet through the air and suffers an impact with the street that is so intense her teeth literally fly out of her mouth. Don’t ever assume a driver can see you and/or is willing to stop.
- It’s 1:30am at night. A 35-year-old man is using the crosswalk. He is hit by a car operated by a 55-year-old intoxicated man. The pedestrian is dead on the scene.
When you factor “distracted pedestrianing” with “texting while driving” the possibilities explode like blood splatter. When both the driver and the pedestrian are distracted – and at the same time? It’s like that episode of Happy Days when Fonzie took on Pinky Tuscadero in the demolition derby. In other words, it isn’t pretty.
Reported injuries to “distracted walkers” have more than quadrupled in the last seven years. The rate of pedestrians killed or injured has “spiked.” Some communities are responding with laws that outlaw the use of electronic devices while walking. Violators may face an $85 fine.
In other news, the number of pedestrians hit by trains is also on the rise. What the hell is this? The heady days of the first transcontinental railroad? If only there was some way to know where trains might be heading! (Or is that beheading?)
The other day I walked to the fast food joint for lunch. I like to walk. It was a beautiful sunny day, warm enough to ditch the jacket, even though the hills were still magnificently covered with snow. The journey entails a trip across a busy one-way street with three lanes. I always push the button and wait for the walk signal. When it finally says “walk” that’s the moment when I know drivers are about to take their best shots.
As I stepped off the curb the first driver floored the gas, flew around the corner and aimed for my toes. Luckily, because I pay attention, I was ready for this move and nimbly got out of the way. Then, half-way across, a driver from the opposite direction turned directly at me. “Jesus Christ,” I said out loud as I backtracked a few paces to allow him to pass. I couldn’t help myself as I caught up in a single-crossing twofer. After you, asshole.
The driver’s window was open and he heard what I said. As he accelerated from the scene he sarcastically yelled back, mocking me, and with breathtaking vehemence, “Jesus Christ!!!!!!!”
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what we’re up against. It’s us versus them. Critical thinkers vs. the frothy drooling barbarians.
The moral of this story? Remain cognizant and ever vigilant or your “There And Back Again” journey may end up being only one way.