Just push the button

Photo: Mike Mankowski

By Mike Mankowski

I was driving east along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway. On the radio, Ed Sheeran was singing “The Joker and the Queen.”

On the bike path, a jogger looked at me over her left shoulder as we both approached the Bank Street bridge. I slowed the car and stopped in front of the crosswalk.

It’s my view that the driver and the person entering a crosswalk each share some responsibility for making the system work. It is not all on the driver. Most walkers, joggers and cyclists accept their responsibility and signal one way or another that they are going to enter a crosswalk. They push the button or wave or extend their arm. But some don’t give any signal at all, so the onus is completely on the driver to figure out what they are going to do. If I calculate incorrectly, it will be my fault if someone gets hurt.

The driver behind me in a muscular, black pick-up truck was not happy. He gave me the stink-eye and honked to let me know we both could have made it through the crosswalk before the jogger arrived.

The jogger was at the crosswalk running in place, glancing at her watch, checking her phone, shaking her arms and bobbing her head. Her matching cap, tank top, shorts, socks and shoes screamed “Running Room Sale,” and her headset, wrist monitor and phone let the world know she was plugged in.

“Are you going or not?” I wondered. “Make up your mind. Just push the button. You can’t miss it, it’s next to you on the post.”

After more shakes and bobs, the runner finally began jogging across the road.

Then a cyclist arrived at the crosswalk. I waited for him to make his move. He had all the latest high-end biking gear plus an ice-blue outfit that someone must have spray painted on him. He was on his way to Le Tour de France or Le Mans.

He tried to push the button while seated on his bike, but he was too far away, so he turned his front wheel back and forth several times, trying to keep his balance and get closer to the post.

“Brilliant,” I thought. “This guy should be in the circus.”

Back and forth, still reaching for the button.

“How hard can it be?” I asked. “Get off the bike and push the big fat button!”

He almost lost his balance, gave up and pedaled across the road. As he went by, he waved.

More engine revving from the pick-up truck behind me.

A young couple pushing a stroller walked up to the crosswalk. I looked to see what they were up to. The guy pointed at me, then started across the road. I waved to encourage him to keep moving. But the child tossed something on the road. A toy? A bagel? A ripe diaper? The woman walked over to pick it up.

I stared at the couple. “Please,” I whimpered. “Please push the button.”

An older couple, hand in hand, approached the crosswalk. They noticed the stroller and walked straight past the post to introduce themselves to Mom and Dad and Sweet Baby Snookums.

“Is this some kind of joke?” I shouted through the windshield.

“Would someone, anyone, please push the flippin’ button!”

The driver behind me had had enough. He got out of his truck and walked toward me. I expected the worst, but he walked past my car to the post, flexed and pushed the button. As he walked past my car, he tapped on my window. “You’re welcome, moron!”

“You crushed that button!” I hollered. “I love ya, man!” Tears ran down my cheeks.

Ed Sheeran was singing “The road that was broken brought us together.”

Mike Mankowski is a Glebe resident, a grandfather and a careful driver.

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