Zombie Pedestrians

Once upon a time in a land called America, schoolchildren were taught how to cross the street by their parents or their older siblings. Red light means the cars stop, and green light means the cars go. Wait for the red light and make sure the cars have stopped, look both ways, carefully cross the street. For decades, first graders across the nation successfully crossed the street without tens of thousands of dollars' worth of flashing lights and annoying beeping and counting and pictures of a cute little walking man at every stinking intersection.

Those early pedestrians understood that the cars were bigger than they were, and that they needed to pay attention to the traffic and what was going on around them; a grasp on reality that many of today's pedestrians have not yet achieved. As more and more laws are enacted on the pedestrian's behalf giving him the 'right of way', fewer and fewer pedestrians are taught what the right of way is or how it works. The phrase itself is frequently reduced to a weapon, something righteous for disgruntled have-nots to hold on to and disparagingly yell at those they perceive to be the haves.

Being granted the right of way means the legal right of one entity to proceed with precedence over others in a particular situation or place.

Here are some things that having the right of way does not mean:
  • It does not mean that cars can't crush you and bikes can't run you down and that you are invulnerable.
  • It does not mean that you have no-fault insurance; that you can't be held liable for an accident.
  • It does not mean that it is OK to dawdle your way across a six lane highway while twelve cars are waiting in the left turn lane, eight of which will have to wait for another light cycle because you are poking.
    Pedestrians expect drivers to be courteous toward them but seemingly never consider returning the favor. Hustle across the street when you can! It is OK for pedestrians to be considerate too.
  • It does not mean that you can stop paying attention to the world around you. Walking down the street staring at your phone, crossing intersections and parking lot entrances without ever looking up is both dangerous and stupid.
A wise man once noted that the only thing you know for certain when you see another driver's directional blinking, is that his directional is blinking. Similarly, the only thing you know for certain while blindly walking down the street empowered with the right of way, is that you are entitled to the right of way. You do not know if every driver and biker sees you and is willing and able in that moment to accommodate you. It is reasonable for pedestrians to expect drivers to be paying attention and it is just as reasonable for drivers to expect pedestrians to be paying attention.

Pedestrians are a part of traffic, not above it.

Not everything that looks like progress automatically is. Do the crosswalk lights and timers make us a safer society, or just lazy? Or worse? Early in the morning in Any City, USA you can find people waiting for the little walking man to give them permission to cross the street, though ten minutes have passed since the last car did. Is it a fear of getting caught crossing against the light that maintains them on the corner like zombies, or more frighteningly, did crossing against the light never even occur to them?

Perhaps the issue is neither safety nor laziness, but conditioning. Law enforcement and government routinely use tricks like pulling drivers over for not using their directional to change lanes although there was no other driver behind them to see it, to turn citizens into less thoughtful beings.

Always use your directional.
Always wait for the walking man.
Don't think.

Pedestrians have the right of way.
Don't look.

Always do what the officer says.
Don't question.


Question everything!
Look around and around!
Most of all, think, think, think!

Cross when it's safe.
Blink when it is necessary.
Enjoy the right of way and be considerate.


We're all part of the same big traffic jam. The sooner we stop honking at each other, the sooner the traffic will clear.


A Beautiful Sight

It's easy to complain … seems like I've been doing it nonstop since November '16. Determined to write something positive today, I asked myself, "What is the most beautiful thing I have seen lately?"

The answer was there waiting for me before I could finish the question: those students in Florida. The way they marched to Tallahassee determined to make a difference. The way they tempered their anger and pain with their intellect and handled themselves in a manner we can all be proud of. The way they were filled with, and inspired hope; beautiful, human hope.

If I was in a complainy mood, I might mention that by and large the Florida elected representatives blew the young people off, and how sad it is to see their hopes get dashed. But I know all too well that although I'd bet that our leaders will give gun control measures lip service for another couple weeks before letting it drop and hitting up the NRA for another donation, I hope to God I'm wrong. Even I still have hope, which gives me hope! And I know in my heart that those brave students did not have their hope dashed, their determination lessened or their ideals diminished.

Perhaps hope is our greatest attribute; the never-dying idea that no matter how good or bad things are, they can be better. Hope is what keeps us going, striving to reach higher. Hope is why we seek and accomplish and love and dare to take risks; hope that we can give our children more and our spouse a happy life and ourselves a feeling of accomplishment. Hope that we can still make a difference and hope that this is a nation in which children and teachers are not scared to go to school.

After a fashion, even complaining is hoping - if you didn't think things could be better you wouldn't take the time to complain! Hope always seems to be there, nudging us along. Maybe if we all hope together our leaders will finally put lives ahead of dollars, kids and teachers ahead of campaign promises and the spirit of the Second Amendment ahead of misinformation and put some restrictions in place.

Ready? 1 2 3 hope!



A graduate of Portland State University, Steve (Reeno) Kloser is the author of Beginning Band - A Guide to Success and Let's Make Music - Classroom Recorder Course. He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including La Vida and Fly With Me.

Teacher, web developer, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new.
Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR.


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