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Be Cool, Be Stupid

Looking at How People Cross the Street

Looking at How People Cross the Street

Right outside the building where I work is one of Southern California’s busiest intersections, featuring a four-way crossing that makes for an interesting sociological laboratory. There are two behaviors that I would like to note at this time: First, some people jump the gun each time because they think they know how the signal works.Usually, they have to duck out of the way of the ten or so cars turning left onto Wilshire because they thought that the walk sign would come on right away. It doesn’t, and the Real Cool Guys showing how much they know risk getting flattened by motorists who just don’t care.

Even if the RCGs (Real Cool Guys) got the signals right, the signal occasionally does a “Crazy Ivan.” If you’ve ever seen the movie The Hunt for Red October (1980), you’ll know this is a major plot point, in which the Adam Baldwin character establishes his intelligence cred by predicting that, at regular intervals, Russian submarines do a 180 degree turn to flummox any pursuers. Sometimes the pedestrian crossing signal does the traffic equivalent by not letting any cars turn left during that cycle.

Much less dangerous is the cool persons’ sins of omission: One has to push the button for the pedestrian crossing signal to engage. One cannot rely on people crossing Wilshire on the other side of Westwood because that’s a separate system. Today, as I was coming back from lunch. A large woman was bogarding the crossing button without pressing it. That cool individual then had to deal with the sardonic leers of other pedestrians who must wait for the next cycle to cross. The coolness metamorphoses into shame which I occasionally make worse by commenting aloud, “Looks like someone forgot to press the button” while staring at the bogarder.