Thursday, March 22, 2012

Emotional Blogging

Forgive me. There will be blood...and curse words.

I was nearly hit by a truck and it wasn't an accident. I had to dive out of the way.

This just happened on my typical walk to work. I live downtown and walk to my recently renovated new office space in the heart of the State-Thomas neighborhood in uptown.

Sometimes I trolley. When I do, I don't mind that the short one-mile trip takes up to 30 minutes. I can crack a book while waiting for the next ride, then read it on the trolley.

But when I do walk, depending on my route (I do have a slight amount of choice, considering there are no direct routes, but also very few crossing points between downtown and uptown on the other hand) I have to cross Maple-Routh Connection:

It's the obnoxious S-shaped road that only a traffic engineer could love.

Whatever. My adrenaline is dropping and I wish to maintain my rancor for the sake of rhetoric.

When I do cross Maple-Routh (my other option is through the Arts District and then under Woodall Rogers which is also no picnic), I'm always hyper careful. It's a road designer for cars to drive fast (over a whole 1/4-mile stretch between traffic signals. STOP. GO! STOP.) Because of its S-shape and the buildings around it, there is little visibility for cars or pedestrians. And since they're punching the gas to save 5 seconds between the tanning salon and quickie mart to pick up a 64-ounce big gulp of diet coke, they can't stop in time if driving conditions aren't perfect. ie. they have to slow or stop for what traffic engineers call 'collision hazards.' Or as I like to say, me.

Since the perfect road condition to a traffic engineer is nobody else on the road, I am hyper aware of crossing only when no cars are coming either way. Check left. Look right. Glance back to the left. Ensure the coast is clear before stepping foot on the road.

I could see the engineers then saying, well you're not suppose to cross that road. Instead, we're suppose to stick to 1/4-mile square bubbles, which you cannot leave without having to cross an inhumane arterial. Or else, get in a car. And therein lies the rub. You are forced into a car. Enslaved. Land of the free.
**Side note: I tweeted this morning that the only way to reduce gas prices is to not drive. ONLY. WAY. It cuts your monthly expenses and reduces overall demand when your choice, and my choice, and their choice aggregates by the millions. I save $7000/year by not replacing the car that I totalled. Instead, I moved to a place where I didn't need a car. More expensive? Likely. Divide that over 12 months, that is $583 per month which you could put to better housing, invest it, save it, or if you're a Bank of America employee buy a few grams of coke.
If I were king for a day, I wouldn't fire every single person at TxDOT, COG, and every single transportation planner in every city and county in Texas. But, I'd make them justify their competence towards a job that is more than moving cars. But keeping people safe while facilitating the core function of the city, which is social and economic exchange.

You force people who can't afford it into transportation costs that cripple their ability to make ends meet, participate in society, and better themselves and their family. You bankrupt public commonwealths via tax dollars to pay for your trillion dollar ponzi scheme. And, oh yeah, you kill people.

After I wrote this piece for D Magazine, I received an email from some dude in Colorado suggesting traffic fatalities are the drivers' fault due to human error. Sorry, you can't blame the operator for a system you design. We're not evolved to have reaction times, hand eye (or foot for breaking) coordination over 25-30 mph. The modern assembly line seems so efficient theoretically until you insert human error. And by error, I mean humanity.

Your job is to serve the function of the city. NOT move cars. You massively fail at your job. Here is a sword. It's f***ing Harakiri time.

So after looking both ways and checking out the white 4x4 pickup truck wanting to make a left onto Maple-Routh who clearly seemed to be waiting for me to cross. So I did. As it turns out, they very well may have been getting impatient with me. Because as I'm at the halfway point crossing the road, they're pulling out as I would expect. Except, they're cutting the curve tighter and tighter as if AT me and I'm not dawdling either.

At the point where the adrenaline hit my head and fight or flight tookover and survival instinct took over, I dove out of the way. The truck was clearly going to clip me. The Supersized Fries edition of a driver-side rearview mirror was on course for my should and maybe my head. And the body of the truck was likely going to sideswipe my hip and leg. I didn't like my chances against a 2-ton truck.

Except it wasn't so much fight OR flight. But fight and flight. While in mid air, I let out a JESUS CHRIST! Then after the driver had passed me and clearly slowing down, I belted out a M***** F*****. The driver, not stopped but still rolling slowly, makes a hand gesture. It wasn't a middle finger. I could make out all five. But if it was a sincere apology, wouldn't there be an effort to make eye contact? There was none. Just a quick five fingers in the window before driving away.

A woman walking her dog saw the entire incident. She made some sort of audible noise about it, but I couldn't make it out. My ears were full of adrenaline and rage. I have no patience or tolerance for drivers who think they can bully the more fragile forms of transportation. Yes, I have a F***ing right to the road too.

And yes, if you threaten my life, there will be a response if you don't drive off. However, now that my boiling blood is back to a simmer, it is probably good for both of us that you drove off. I would have broken my hand trying to punch through your window. I was not thinking straight.

If you meant to hit me, you are an ignorant, f***ing coward. If you didn't, you obviously can't handle your automobile. Either way, you're a little man in a big truck.