The other day I was waiting at a pedestrian crossing and it was one of those occasions where you press the button, go back into your world of texting, planning dinner and in my case wondering if my hood’s inside out/tights are laddered/hair is birds nest, when after a few minutes you realise you have been waiting for a few minutes. I realise this does not sound very long, but in the world of pedestrian crossings (and what a world that is) it’s a looooooong time. And every time you think ‘okay NOW the omnipotent Green man is going to appear and permit me to cross’, he bloody doesn’t.
Anyway, during my marathon crossing-stand, there were several occasions in which I noticed people in their cars doing things that they just would not do if they weren’t behind the safety of their Renault Clio and were in fact out on the social minefield of the pavements. These were things I have seen car-people do many times before, but just always assumed it was ‘okay because they’re in a car’. Yet so long was I waiting the other day that my thinking progressed from ‘it’s okay because they’re in a car’ to ‘why the hell is it okay to do that?! EVER?!’
When I am walking along listening to my recently played list absolutely loving it, sometimes it is all I can do not to join in the chorus and start shaking it like a keeno on Slim Fast right there on the curb. But I don’t. Ever. I just can’t get away with it. Some people can. But only about two people in the whole world, one being Pants on the Ground Man from American Idol. Which leaves one other person. Who is not me. So I don’t. Along with all the other pedestrians, I walk in an orderly manner and simultaneously reign in my inner Justin Timberlake.
And to be honest how ridiculous would I look stood waiting at the crossing having a good croon to myself, jutting my bum out in an alarmingly erratic manner (I recently realised that this is what my dancing consists of, when according to Nicole Scherzinger of X Factor 2010 ‘a good dancer dances with their arms and hips.’ oh well...). Basically if you’re on the pavement, you walk in a reserved fashion and you do not do anything that could draw any further attention to yourself than your inside out umbrella already does.
So WHY it is okay for traffic jam-ees, alone in their cars, to sing at the top of their voices, laugh uproariously to themselves as though an invisible passenger has got some hilarious invisible banter and, sometimes, do creepy elbow bops whilst gripping the steering wheel and signalling right? What makes drivers so immune to public humiliation? The cars have windows you know. We CAN see you. But they don’t bat an eyelid when we pedestrians look on in trepidation. Maybe the just think they’re that jamm-ee?
The only difference between them in the cars and me on the pavements is that no one else can hear them (probably). But does this really give them license to freewill and to causing a spectacle of themselves? No, basically, because we can still see you! And surely it’s the seeing that’s the more embarrassing aspect of causing an exhibition of yourself?
I mean, if I were an invisible person stood at the crossing, I would be more than happy to burst into Fighter by Christina Aguilera (ahem) whilst stomping my foot emphatically, because no one would be able to see me and therefore judge me. Just hearing an embarrassing situation, absolutely takes the embarrassing out of it.
No need to point, just inidcate...
It’s not just singing and dancing. It’s worse things too. Like mocking.
On this particular occasion (when the green man took so long I had time to think of this entire blog post – seriously what does he do that Green Man? Come from another crossing?), a van full of hecklers (oh great) pulled up neatly in the middle of the crossing by which I was eagerly still waiting. And when it emerged they were comfortable being twats (obviously) it was very difficult to know where to look when straight ahead involved meeting the eyes of the 3 fluorescent-jacketed men waving their take away cups in my direction and laughing and pointing at god knows what (this is a situation where hearing could have made things more awkward). Did I have something in my hair? Was my skirt tucked in at the back? Was that duck that had followed me in a flap around the park now trotting behind me towards work? A myriad of paranoid scenarios swirled around my head. Though I defiantly ignored their chortles, the paranoia indeed stayed with me until I reached work, found a mirror and discovered that nay, there was nothing amiss, and the men were just MEAN.
Point is, imagine if I was stood road-side laughing and drawing attention to an innocent driver, yelling for pedestrians from far and wide to come and join in, stopping cyclists in their midsts to get them involved, while the driver sat imprisoned at his wheel, blamelessly waiting for the Green Go like a penguin at the Zoo peckishly awaiting feeding time. You just don’t see this happening, because it would be a sinful and childish travesty for a pedestrian to mock a driver!
So I beg of you, what is it that so ruthlessly permits drivers to pick their noses, check their teeth in the rear-view mirror, raise two fingers at cyclists and even grrr their engines at school kids who get in their way (if I growled at a school kid every time they got in my way mid-stroll, I would surely have been sent down by now)?
I think it all comes down to the same “my toys bigger than yours” scenario that earned you social credit and a license to eat everyone else’s break time snacks at school. "I am in a car. I am big and I am powerful and therefore I will do what I want and you can’t stop me because you’re just a muggle on foot and I can mow you down if you dare cross me (and/or the road)."
And to be honest, can I argue with that?