Cars, like penguins, have the capacity for both goodness and evil. Do cars have souls? Doubtful, unless they are voiced by Paul Newman. But Saturday I witnessed the extremes of car behavior, and it all happened within a matter of two minutes.
I was on my bike, as is usually the case around these parts. Waiting at an intersection I should have been allowed to cross right away, as there was a crosswalk. Usually, though, cars on this particular road treat crosswalks as though they are speed bumps. Slow down a bit, but go as fast as you can without destroying the shocks.
At this time, there was a man already halfway through the crosswalk as I began to cross. You figure that cars may not slow down enough to see a pedestrian waiting patiently on the sidewalk, but surely they’ll stop when a person is directly in front of them. Not so! This guy nearly got hit by a big green SUV. The driver, a surly young man barely paying attention, stopped only because the pedestrian put his hand out and started yelling. The pedestrian told the driver that you have to STOP AT A CROSSWALK FOR CHRISSAKES. The driver acknowledged this with a wave of his hand, not even lucid enough for a middle finger. I really hope that driver’s girlfriend just dumped him for his younger brother.
Shaking my head, I rode on.
When I looked up again, it was just in time. A car that had parallel parked was halfway into the road. The driver of that car (a midsize sedan of indeterminate color), leaned out of his window to wave me on. “Go on,” his friendly face and extended arm implied, “you’ve got the right to pass.” I smiled and thanked him on the way by.
People don’t usually think you can communicate to the outside world once you’re in a car, but that is not the case. This driver knew that.
The rest of my trip was uneventful. But in that matter of minutes, I experienced both the worst driving and the nicest. And it wasn’t even raining.