First, a little history lesson: people were walking down the street all the time. Then the “pleasure cars” came and these pedestrians started getting run over. It was a problem. The auto industry didn’t want to look like the bad guys, so they coined the term “jay walking”. Formerly, a “jay” was a “rube” or a “hick”. Bam! Now the pedestrians were the bad guys and the cars were awesome. I keep it simple. You can read more here.
Zac Crain wrote in this space about how drivers routinely attempt to assassinate him on his downtown rides. While I don’t want to blame the victim here, I’m forced to conclude that Zac is to blame for these attempts on his life, as walking around downtown I more often encounter a diametrically different situation. Namely, cars stop too often for me.
Something you should know: I’m an unrepentant jaywalker. Zac is not.
Here’s what often happens: I step off a curb and into the street – after doing the math to figure out the right vector to safely cut behind a car as it passes – and the car stops . Right there in the middle of the road, even though the driver has the right of way and I’m the one breaking the law. So I have to stop and signal the driver to continue. Except the driver will wave me Continue. And now we clog the works, we greet each other. Or I erase the work.
The people of Dallas are courteous. Oh, there are a lot of assholes and cotton-headed morons out there. But overall, Dallas locals are in vogue, which is almost certainly why bald eagles have made their home here. And by “Dallasites” I mean Planoites and McKinneyians and everything else. But maybe not Ferrisers, because 18 years ago we published a story with the title “Welcome to Ferris, Texas (where everyone hates each other)”, and I still get emails from people in Ferris which are, shall we say, less than congratulations.
Where was I? Oh yes. If you are driving a car and see a pedestrian entering the street, maintain your speed and direction. The jaywalker did the math. He could see to you as if he was going to get into your car, but I assure you he is not. There is no need to slow down and, in fact, it will only increase calculations and delays.
In short, keep calm and keep driving.
And for my part, if tomorrow I get run over in the street because I’m jaywalking, it’s my responsibility. If my corpse looks good enough to have an open casket, fill your glasses and say a few words in my honor. But don’t feel bad for me. I’ll be dead doing what I love.
Tim is the editor of Magazine Dwhere he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…