Thursday, October 10, 2013

deer in headlights

The bus stop facing home from my site office is across six lanes of traffic.  The first night that I tried to get to it, I attempted to find a legal crossing route, which led to me climbing up some stairs to a not so large pedestrian sidewalk along a very busy highway, then climbing back down and still having to rush across a lane of exiting cars because there was no crosswalk to be found.  The second night I walked down the six lane road until it became obvious that there was no crosswalk and then I ran across the six lanes as fast as I could with my heart beating loudly in my head.  I was lightheaded from the adrenaline rush.

I looked at all the other people at the bus stop and thought to myself, surely they know something that I don't because they can't all be dodging fast moving traffic like I just did.

As it turns out, that is what they do.  I now know that there are small lulls in traffic that allow you to rush across the roadway. Also, at certain areas there are medians that you can use to break up the six lane rush into three and three.  While I still scurry across, the locals here are much more relaxed to the point that I wonder if they are stupid or suicidal.

I often see people strolling leisurely across as though the speeding cars will stop for them.  When it becomes obvious that the speeding cars are not slowing down, they hustle the last few steps, missing the cars by only a few meters. It is like they are playing chicken, but I'm fairly certain that I know who will win.  People here like to walk slowly and even a minibus bearing down on them will only cause a marginal increase in pace.

Today I watched a woman walking across with her dog.  The dog was some kind of small, shaggy lapdog and it barked at everyone that it saw, almost startling me off the median when it started yapping at me.  It also lunged at a couple of construction workers who were eyeing it in a way that made me nervous if the owner ever took her eye off of it.  There was a small break in traffic, but we could see headlights not so far away.  Despite the approaching traffic, the lady did that shuffle that some people do- the one where you don't actually pick your feet up off the ground.  The headlights were getting close enough that even dumb dog was trying to run away from the lights and pulling at the leash in the other direction.  There would have been a collision if the taxi in her lane didn't hit his brakes.  I was standing there, frozen in horror and thinking that I was about to witness something terrible.  The woman finished shuffling across the road while the taxi driver laid on his horn.  She looked absolutely unruffled. Suddenly I understood why the dog was such a freak.

Sometimes I wonder about other humans.

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