First, a quick history lesson: people used to walk in the street all the time. Then “pleasure cars” came along, and those pedestrians started to get run over. This was a problem. The auto industry didn’t want to look like the bad guys, so they invented the term “jay walking.” In days of yore, a “jay” was a “rube” or a “hick.” Bam! Now the pedestrians were the bad guys, and cars were awesome. I’m keeping it simple. You can read more here.
Zac Crain has written in this space about how drivers regularly try to murder him on his downtown walks. While I don’t want to blame the victim here, I am forced to conclude that Zac is to blame for these attempts on his life, because in walking through downtown, I more often encounter a diametrically different situation. Namely, cars too frequently stop for me.
Something you should know: I am an unrepentant jaywalker. Zac is not.
Here’s what often happens: I step off a curb and into the street—after having made the calculations to ascertain the proper vector to safely cut behind a car as it passes—and the car will stop. Right there in the middle of the road, even though the driver has the right of way and I am the guy who is breaking the law. So then I have to stop and wave the driver on. Except the driver will wave me to keep going. And now we’re gumming up the works, waving at each other. Or I am gumming up the works.
People in Dallas are courteous. Oh, there are plenty of jerks and cotton-headed ninny mugginses out there. But on balance Dallasites are swell, which is almost certainly why the bald eagles moved here. And by “Dallasites” I mean Planoites and McKinneyians and the whole lot. But maybe not Ferrisers, because 18 years ago we published a story with the headline “Welcome to Ferris, Texas (Where Everyone Hates Each Other),” and I still get email from people in Ferris that is, shall we say, less than congratulatory.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. If you’re driving a car and see a jaywalker stepping into the street, maintain your speed and direction. The jaywalker has done the math. It might look to you like he is going to walk into your car, but I assure you he is not. There’s no need to slow down, and, in fact, that will lead only to more math and delays.
In short, remain calm, and keep driving.
And speaking for myself, if I get run over in the street tomorrow because I’m jaywalking, that’s on me. If my corpse looks good enough to have an open-casket wake, then please fill your glasses and say a few words in my honor. But don’t feel bad for me. I’ll have died doing what I love.