The sun is shining and the sky is a rare bright blue. It’s pleasantly warm, everyone dressed in shorts and beach sandals, colorful pants and sunglasses. The odd fedora. I’m walking down London, across the pedestrian crossing and up on the pavement when I hear the horn behind me. It blares twice, angry, and I know it’s not for me because I’m already on the pavement with someone yelling, ‘It’s a pedestrian crossing, you idiot!’
And the reply comes from the still-moving car, shrill and urgent: ‘I confessed!’
And the car rolls down the street and disappears. No tyre screech, no slowing down. The car keeps going.
And I’m thinking, that was a strange way for the driver to admit blame.
And I’m looking at the pedestrians behind me — a man and woman — standing there half on the pavement, half on the tarmac, shaking their heads, the woman holding the man from the elbow, their faces a mixture of anger, fear, and contempt.
And I’m thinking, it must have been close.
And then I get it. The driver hadn’t shouted, ‘I confessed.’
She’d shouted, ‘I camfess.’
I come first!
Not only did this driver almost run over two people, she had the nerve to argue about it, too.
Consider the implications. This driver is in command of a multi-ton vehicle. She will probably raise other human beings at some point in her life, teaching them how to behave around others.
She also probably votes, and maybe, if the world is unkind to those close to her, she has subordinates.
It’s very simple, for her. In her mind, she comes first, no matter what. She has a car and the pedestrians can’t argue with a ton of rolling metal. She doesn’t get how the traffic code works, or doesn’t care, or all of the above. She’s somehow in the right, as far as she’s concerned, which is how tragedies happen, how the world burns. In the hands of entitled morons who don’t get it, who don’t give a damn about anything even when the reality of the situation is staring them in the face. On a crosswalk, for example, in London, a city where the traffic lights are respected and the lanes are observed, and seldom a horn bellows. Drivers on the whole come together in this city to create a functional system, as functional as mass transportation in an eight-million-thick metropolis can get. And as everyone knows, or ought to know, the pedestrian always comes first where pedestrian crossings are involved. No exceptions.
It can be a drag if you’re a driver, sheer frustration, having to stop and go and stop and go on account of pesky pedestrians, but such is the way it works. If you’ve somehow not caught up yet, do so, quickly. If you’re driving down the high street and somehow not paid attention to the pedestrian coming across on that zebra crossing, the least you can do is slam on the brakes and apologize, not keep going. And don’t shout out the window that you came first. Don’t try and come away clean on top of everything.
I walked on down the road, wondering how long it would be before that driver would put someone under.
I also wondered how many assholes in our everyday lives, not just drivers but all kinds of assholes, carry the same attitude with them wherever they go.
We all know a few, don’t we? We wonder the same things about them.
And sooner or later, they, these assholes, find themselves where they belong.
Until they do, there’s a chance they’ll try to run us over. It’s what assholes do, come after those who see through them, who call them out on their shit. Make sure you have their details in case they manage to hit you or anyone you know — they’ll be picked up and put away for good, where they won’t be able to hurt innocent people. Make sure to give those details ahead of time to people you know and trust, or to the authorities, so that they’ll be able to take action should you be unable to.
I walked on down the road, making contingency plans while the cars rolled idly by on this brightest of Sunday afternoons in dear old London. The couple behind me resumed their stroll. Everyone seemed to be entranced by the glorious weather.