Monday, May 05, 2008

Walking In Boston

I met Judy for lunch today. She walked over from the financial district and I walked up from the South End. We met at the Transportation Building, which is akin to the theatre district and across the street from the Boston Common. We ate lunch in the Building's food court. It was a beautiful day for a walk with the temperature in the low 60's, bright sunshine and a clear blue sky overhead.

It was nice meeting for lunch. Being able to say hi, touch and gaze in the early afternoon is a nice interlude in an otherwise hectic day. I believe having real time with someone is so much more pleasant than the remoteness of, for example, exchanging emails. There's something about the physical contact that is pleasing; it lowers the blood pressure and relaxes the mood, I think.

For sure, walking in-town in Boston is a journey in itself. There are zillions of people everywhere and where there aren't people, there're cars. Seemingly amazing, there wasn't much noise; that is, people yelling, horns blaring. There was the normal buzz of conversation and car engines but it wasn't ugly, the way sometimes being in a crowded urban environment can be. Maybe it's Boston just being a more genteel place; maybe it's just because it's Monday, the Sox and the Celtics won yesterday so folks are worn out; besides, today is cinco de mayo and so maybe everyone is saving the additional hooping and hollering for after work.

After lunch, and a brief walk, we each went our separate ways, back to our respective work grinds. I headed down Harrison Ave., going through China town and past Tufts University's downtown campus. Judy headed east, toward the harbor and back to the financial hub of the Hub.

I had to stop for traffic at Kneeland St. Like a lot of pedestrians, I waited in the street, rather than on the sidewalk, for the light to change, ready to hustle across the intersection the moment it changed in my favor. Up here in the Bay State, pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks. Of course, when the intersections are controlled by a light, everyone has to wait their turn to get across the street.

It always gets me how, up here, the standard is for people in cars to flash their lights to indicate it's okay for the other car to, for example, go ahead and make a turn in front of you at a non-light controlled intersection. In Baltimore, it's just the opposite. Flashing your lights in Charm City means get the hell out of the way, I'm comin' through. In Beantown, it means - oh, please. You first. I'll wait to take my turn.

Massachusetts pedestrians take having the legal right of way at crosswalks very seriously. I one time got a ticket for not allowing a pedestrian to cross the street in the crosswalk and the person wasn't even in it yet. Parenthetically, I did beat the ticket (he was up on the sidewalk, not in the street) but the lesson to learn from it was clearly there. I now always stop for pedestrians in cross walks and almost always when people are crossing the street anywhere else.

Standing next to me on Harrison Ave, waiting to cross Kneeland, was a young guy, probably in his early 20's. I took him for being a Tufts student. As soon as the light changed, he charged across the street.

I looked both ways before venturing out and saw that an SUV was going to run the red light. The guy didn't look at all, he just walked out into the middle of the intersection.

The SUV missed him, or rather he missed running into the side of the SUV, by about a foot. As the SUV sped past, the guy raised his outstretched arms and said, "hey, what the hell!?"

As we crossed the street I mentioned to him that he almost got hit. "Yeah," he said. "And it's not the first time."

You know, you'd think after a near miss (or two) that you'd learn to look both ways before crossing, especially in the middle of the day on a crowded street. Apparently, this guy's going to learn to look first by receiving one hell of a lesson.


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