Only in the Pacific Northwest


This is a photo of the intersection where I pick up the bus every morning. I get there about 5:30 every morning, when this was taken.

Those cars there to the right? That’s about as heavy as the traffic gets at that time in the morning.

Nearly every morning, any number of walkers or bikers arrive at any of the four corners with the intent of crossing the street. And yet, with that little traffic, each and every one will press the walk light and then stand there until the light changes and they get a walk light.

Every single one.

And for months, if not years, I’ve watched this go on.

I’ve tried to lead by example. Often I arrive as someone is waiting and I just walk on without hitting the walk button. I don’t wait for the walk light. I just go. And they just stand there.

I’m not sure why they’re waiting. There’s no one around. There are also no police who could possibly give them a jaywalking ticket (not that they would, anyway).

And aside from waiting for no reason, they also unnecessarily inconvenience driving traffic by making the light turn red just so they can cross – when they could have crossed anyway without interrupting the flow at all.

Human nature continues to fascinate me, and every so often, I tell one of them to just go and not hit the light. They say they want to be safe. I guess the common sensical “look right, left and right again before crossing the street” advice we all got when we were kids is out the window. Now people need flags and cross lights to make it across the street. Yet another small sample of our growing dependence on outside influences other than ourselves.

Today, though, there was a hopeful twist.

A guy on a bike rode up, stopped, hit the walk light, and then crossed against it, anyway. While exciting that he chose to go on his own, this was actually worse. His actions resulted in the light turning red for traffic after he was long gone, making it even more unnecessary.

I’ve lived here six years, and I’m still trying to work out the militant rule-following of the native Pacific Northwesterner.

One thing you can bank on, if you see someone crossing against a light, you can bet they’re not from around here.

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