Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Morning Jaywalk

From the North side of Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, just west of 8th Street, people cross to the South side without going to the crosswalk in order to get to the Metro in the most direct manner possible. From the Metro, these same people cross to the same point to go to points North and East. In this picture, the North-South street on the right is 8th Street, and by the red dot one can see where the median has been worn away by people crossing to and from the escalators visible in the lower left of the picture.

This morning was unseasonably cold, and a number of morning commuters were waiting to cross at the usual location. Then a cop, with lights flashing, came around the bend and parked right in front of where people make their illegal crossing. Almost everyone reluctantly walked back to 8th Street and waited for the light. One person, however, held his ground, and when the light changed, he crossed right in front of the police car. The officer might have been stunned by the pedestrian's sheer brazenness, but he still possessed the wherewithal to pump his siren. In response, the jaywalker looked back, with scorn or even anger, then continued to cross the street unabated. The pedestrian was wearing headphones, and didn't know whether the cop shouted at him, or got out of the car. Perhaps the jaywalker figured that it was too cold for the cop to get out of his car to chase a jaywalker, that maybe the morning coffee and donut were more important to the cop than hassling one person about doing what he and everyone else would do the next day the cop wasn't there. Perhaps the jaywalker was outraged by the cop focusing on such trivial offenses when cars driving in the neighborhood routinely drive 15-20 miles per hour over the speed limit, and no one has ever heard of, much less seen, a cop taking the trouble to ticket a driver. Perhaps the jaywalker was simply cold, and eager to get where he was heading as quickly as possible.

Regardless of what he was thinking, the jaywalker continued across the street, to the escalator, and descended into the Metro station. As he boarded his train, the cop was nowhere to be found.