CROSS AT THE RED? A FAT FINE, FRED
Los Angeles police have begun an aggressive campaign to stem jaywalking, slapping pedestrians who cross against the lights with a fine of $175, according to the New York Times.
$175 is criminal. How about $25 or $50, something a working person can grumble about but pay? $175 to a lot of people represents 16 hours of labor. It represents food, gas, their rent.
Is anyone going to do anything about it? Where do you start? I don’t know. Most people will probably just pay it, and maybe –
I’d like to see a fair fight, though. How about “If you can catch me, you can fine me?” I’d challenge a cop to a 10-block chase, then accept the fine if he caught me. Or how about, instead of $175 fine, I just turn around and he can kick me in the ass? That’s more humane.
Like you, I have mixed feelings about jaywalkers, usually depending on whether I’m driving (they suck) or walking (the cars suck.)
I also have a heart (takes pulse – ok) from time to time.
TWO EXAMPLES OF HEART/NO HEART
I was driving on a fairly busy street in a business district recently and a man in a wheelchair, who was already rolling across the road, wanted to continue. He was a street person, as far as I could tell. First thought was, “Wait for the light like anyone else, man,” and then I started thinking about how much strength it takes to wheel two wheels everywhere you go, and how tired that must make you. So I stopped and waited.
It took him a while and I really wanted to get going. Stopped myself from going around him. “Max, just wait, ok?” I said to myself. “Let the guy go by.” Tried to figure, too, by looking, whether or not he was phoney-baloney. It was a 20-second exercise in impatience, kindness, prejudice, wanting what I want instead of including what others want, and taking deep breaths. The man got by and we both went on our way.
I was in Manhattan the next day on the Upper East side going across town when a young, Gucci-dressed, attractive blonde woman and her friend simply walked right out into an intersection, oblivious to the lights and oblivious to traffic. Both girls became indignant that none of the cars were stopping to let them cross.
A guy in a wheelchair gets to cross; ditto an old lady or someone with a cane or someone carrying a heavy object. Or maybe someone who is really in a hurry and sort of waves to the cars as if to say, “I’m sorry, I’m crossing, I know, I’m against the lights, hang on.”
Rich and blonde and oblivious and walking around New York City with no attention paid to lights, cars, other pedestrians, or anything but your own head, I’m sorry. I won’t hit you but neither will I keep 5 other cars behind me waiting so her highness can wander at will into traffic. None of us stopped to let them pass. They were never in any danger – nobody gunned their engines. Just something satisfying about not having to capitulate to those who think green and red lights are for decoration.
Still, $175 is horse manure.
But I bet none of the people who got tickets will jaywalk again. I wouldn’t, not after just one fine equivalent to a punch in the kidneys.
-Josh Max, Auto Gigolo