Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How Low Can You Go?

I've witnessed a new low in civility on this hot, uncomfortable day. An outburst, directed at the ladies walking behind me as we were crossing the street at mid-day, made me take a double (and triple) take.

As I started across the street when the light turned green, I noticed a car to my left that looked like it was going to turn; it then stopped briefly, then proceeded to go straight across the intersection, floating across a red light.

I guess one of the ladies behind me must have stretched out her hand to gesture to the driver to stop (they had the green light), because the driver then decided to roll down her window (letting out all her air conditioning, a bad sign right there) and yell, repeatedly, "Did I hit you?" "What 'cha worried about?" To their credit, the pedestrians continued to stroll across the street; understandably, one of them decided to get in on the fun and trade a few barbs with the driver, who eventually, thankfully, drove away.

Unfortunately, this is not the first driver/pedestrian verbal fracas I've seen recently on downtown D.C. streets, where pedestrians are not exactly rare.

A few weeks ago, a few blocks away, I was about to cross the street (or attempted to, at least), when I made the blunder of gently gesturing a driver to back up, as she was blocking the pedestrian walkway. I was greeted with a merry, "Walk around my car!" to which I just had to answer, "Get out of the pedestrian zone!" This merely caused the driver (a different irate woman from today's screamer) to keep ranting as she drove off. What can get you so wound up in the middle of the day? I'd hate to run into one of these women after quittin' time! Perhaps I should be grateful that neither screecher was talking on a cell phone while driving, or there might have been two actual, rather than verbal, collisions.

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