The corner of Avenida Abenerabi and Calle Marquez de los Vélez on a chilly Spring day.
I’m not quite sure if it’s Spring or just a blustery fall afternoon as I continue with some meanderings known as walking to the store.
I need to pick up a carton of eggs and various random food-related products. White earphones are giving me a strolling soundtrack as I reach the end of the sidewalk. The walking signal is red, so I make a quick halt in front of the crosswalk.
Scanning both sides of the normally busy street, I see that there’s not a single moving vehicle in sight.
There’s time for me to hustle across the intersection and continue towards the market. My feet inch towards the starting line, but suddenly an elderly woman and a young child take position next to me.
They do their citizenly duties and obey the no-walking sign.
Inside I want to beat any incoming cars and cross, however a voice starts telling me to think twice.
I’m thirty-one and an ESL teacher. Get your shit together and stay here.
Damn, the voice makes a lot of sense. If I go for it, then the grandmother would have to explain to the boy that I’m an asshole, and not abiding by the law.
My conscious wins the battle and I decide to play a positive role model.
Fine. I’ll wait it out.
It will be good to follow the rules, maybe even cool?
A few moments at the crosswalk go by, and a gaggle of more pedestrians can be sensed building up behind me on the sidewalk.
One guy in a Vespa scoots by us in a buzzing salut, followed by more gaps of nothing.
Time feels like it’s standing still with us on the corner as the light stays red.
I’m starting to remember that the traffic lights in this city are all on a timer, and not based on motion sensors.
Someone breaks the line and scurries across the street as if he was being chased by a buffalo.
The pedestrian damn is about to break. Once one street crosser gets defiant and proves that it’s alright to cross on a red, then the rest of the herd starts getting fearless.
A lady with a bag of peppers and a couple teens with saggy backpacks lose their patience and race to the other side.
In the corner of my eye I see that the grandma is still holding her grandson’s hand, patiently waiting for the signal to change.
I’m going to lead by example. My instincts be damned.
All of my natural desires are yelling at me to make a run for it, to say bye to this street corner from hell.
The light stays red and now I’m sure that the city planner is working for the Illuminati.
This is all in some diabolical masterplan or some twisted sociological experiment.
Just fricking turn green you bastard.
As nothing happens, I start hoping that whoever set the crosswalk timer has some terminal illness, or at the very least a drinking problem or hopefully a bad back.
As a guy with a wrinkled polo shirt blows past me, I find myself alone with the old lady and the boy. If I left now then I’d not only be a rule breaker, but maybe the old lady would say that I’m an asshole and a complete psycho.
I’m here for the long haul.
I close my eyes and pray for the light to turn green.
I don’t even want any eggs anymore.
The store has probably closed or changed ownership by now.
As I open my eyelids the lady and the boy have already made it halfway across the street, the red signal still glaring in the background.
The woman’s soft wobble match the beating of my now deceived heart.
I’m not sure if it’s Spring, but I do know that I’m a sucker on a street corner.
The light finally turns green, but then I realize that I left my wallet at home…
What did you learn?….. Always j-walk when you have to be somewhere, cause buying eggs is important. How else are you going to feel all of those swollen muscles? Also don’t worry about setting an example for the elderly. They’ve been around long enough to know that they’d j-walk if they’re body didn’t slow them down so much. Cheers. Great ending.