Who knew the less than half-mile walk from home to the Saratoga Springs Public Library could produce so much fodder for the brain.
Consider Situation No. 1. Less than a quarter of the way into said walk finds me on the sidewalk with another able-legged human heading in my direction. Eye contact, acknowledgment of another living being’s existence on my part and the word, “hello,” comes from my end of the encounter. She’s bundled up – even though the sun is shining and it doesn’t feel that cold – looks up, makes eye contact, gives blank stare straight head and does not respond.
Part of me wanted to blurt out a line from a few Seinfeld episodes where George says, “You know, we’re living in a society.”
What gives with this behavior? It’s not the first time I’ve seen it and to be completely honest, I see it (or maybe just recognize it) more here in upstate New York than ever before.
My only conclusion was that it’s this couldn’t-care-less, don’t-make-eye-contact-with-strangers attitude usually found a little bit more south, say in New York City. Well guess what? It doesn’t make you the kind of person with a city dweller gruffness or a cool edge, it makes you a social misfit or perhaps, quite simply, it makes you a jerk. Say hello. It’s not that difficult.
Situation No. 2 is far less personal, although it has the potential to be even more so depending on the outcome.
Consider this: A sidewalk goes across Lake Avenue at its intersection with Henry Street You know the corner, Parting Glass and Scallions on one side, the back of the Hampton Inn and what used to be Walton’s Sport Shop and is now a liquor store (big plus for the neighborhood, by the way) on the other.
State law, and common sense, dictates that at crosswalks “where there isn’t a traffic control signal or officer, pedestrians have the right-of-way.”
In Vermont if you’re standing at a crosswalk and you don’t proceed to cross the street, drivers get a little miffed. They had to stop after all, for you, the pedestrian. At the intersection above, drivers sometimes get a little miffed that they have to stop, too, and sometimes as they’re coming down the hill past The Saratogian heading away from Broadway they accelerate. With a pedestrian in the middle of the sidewalk. I repeat, in the middle of the sidewalk.
I’ve got a news flash for any of those drivers out there who are so inconvenienced by this type of behavior – or maybe others who seem to get incensed when they, aghast, see people running or riding bicycles (a story for another column) – you’re not going to be any happier if you run a pedestrian down.
In no circumstance will you be in the right and I in the wrong.
Think about it.