We didn’t have a map but if we had a map it would have said, “Follow the path along the fence, cross a sea of wood chips in a boat, take the path through the forest, come to a big red number two.” (I didn’t get a picture of it but it was big and red, two things that are very significant to an almost two year old it would seem.)
I got to do some face-painting at a street party in the east end of the city on Friday. The first “client” was a very smart little girl of four who knew exactly what she wanted. “I want to look like a tennis ball.”
Fortunately there was a tennis ball nearby that I could work from.
I like to get people, especially kids, talking about what they have chosen, sort of expanding on their imaginations, which are generally huge, so it begged the question, “so you like playing tennis?”
“No. I just like tennis balls.”
I didn’t get any pictures that day not even of the “tennis ball” a first for me. What can I say, it got busy and no one took any pictures. Here instead is a picture from another day and another street party, just to give you an idea of the set-up. The makeup is hypoallergenic and water based, great for kids and I have a bunch of laminated pictures to get them thinking about what they would like. I often find kids are wannabe artists too so I can talk about how to mix colours and blend. It’s all good. 🙂
Sitting staring at a blank wall the image of a zafu, a small round cushion, flying through the air and hitting me on the back of the head came to mind. Wait, let me back up a bit: I have grown very attached to my zafu having clocked so, so, many, many hours sitting on it. At times I realize I have an almost obsessive affection for it. It has been repaired and recovered and in it’s heart it contains my former teacher’s zafu. *Sigh*
None of these things has anything to do with my practice or the value of it or my sincerity or effort. At the end of the day it is just a cushion… And you may ask, quite rightly, what does this have to do with cars?
Well we all have to get to places. We can pay attention to where we are without getting confused about how to get to where we need to be. *groan*
We all, at least begrudgingly, acknowledge we affect each other with our behaviour, certainly we acknowledge when other people’s behaviour upsets us in some way. But put us in our very own vehicle, encase us in “top of the line performance” and drench us in the joy of our favourite mix of tunes OR WHATEVER, driving along in our cars, flying like Isadora Duncan’s scarf down a ribbon of hi-way, well, that is freedom.
The images of driving and freedom are endless thanks to really clever and expensive advertising. Too bad they are untrue. It isn’t free. It is very costly. It costs in waved penalties for environmental damages for the HUGE companies that produce all manner of stuff for cars. It costs in road maintenance, insurance claims, hospital and emergency response costs, and in broken bodies and destroyed lives.
It costs in deluded and dangerous expectations about “what we deserve to have” and gives us an added layer of separation from the harm we might be doing to others.
Whatever you believe about yourself and what you are doing, if it is a means of separating yourself from your fellow beings and their suffering you will get someplace, maybe get there really fast, but you won’t be happy and you can never be free.
You might get a buzz, a high, a sense of being unfettered by worries and concerns and responsibilities but, AND IT IS A REALLY BIG BUTT, AS IN DUMB-ASS, now wait for it, here it comes, the flying zafu!!!!
Dear Pedestrians, when talking about “the flow of traffic” in a big city, I think it is important to say if it is a liquid it is ketchup. It gets stuck just like the ketchup when you hold the bottle over your fries and then suddenly it seems unstoppable and you have a mess pouring out ruining everything! This is how I have come to understand that not only one car will fly through an amber light but three or four will follow and the last will be speeding through a red light. 😦
It can be argued that ketchup is mindless and drivers are not but neither have been proven.
I do not describe pedestrians as ketchup because that is my greatest fear. I never ever want to see any pedestrian covered in anything resembling anything like ketchup. It was one of the reasons I decided to quit. It’s one of the reasons I am posting this.
This idea that we all have to run across a light as the final numbers count down might be a result of too many game shows in our youth but here are a few things to keep in mind.
- You don’t get a prize. You maybe save a couple of minutes but you set a bad example for your kids who will, despite all your efforts to supervise them, one day do the same thing. Also you can cause an accident. It isn’t all about your ability to run, it’s about a lot of other people too, some of whom are in cars and also the cars behind those cars…
- Not everyone can see everything that is happening all the time. This is why when the randomness of rush hour and children’s behaviour (they drop their project, they see a friend on the curb and run back, they sudden stop to crouch down to tie a shoe) WE PAY EXTRA ATTENTION TO THE RULES THAT HELP US ALL STAY SAFE.
- The length of time you have on a green light should be long enough to cross at a normal brisk walking pace. Running is not a good idea, neither is riding a bike or skate board or a pogo stick! Running with a stroller with a child in front of you, by the way, they do not make good shields against on coming traffic… well, lets just say, is not a good idea and here is why: a driver will take a quick perusal of the speed of the herd of pedestrians and calculate his/her turn based on that. Yes he will be in the wrong if he hits someone, but as I said, its not a game show.
- If suddenly a person takes off ahead of the herd a driver can’t anticipate this. Many drivers overestimate their ability to accelerate, swerve and stop. If he/she is making an illegal turn across the crosswalk, and this happens so regularly that it is almost normal, he will have to hit the breaks, AND he might have a flow of mindless ketchup behind him to jam up the intersection. This has happened so many times that I stopped trying to keep count.
You would think having a crossing guard there would help alert the drivers that there could be children crossing. There is nothing lovelier than working for minimum wage, often sick and in the worst weather to have a driver show me the finger because I have stood there, in his or her way, until the parents and children are on the curb. FORGET ABOUT HIM LETTING ME GET THERE too! Sheesh. He or she thinks they have 360 degree vision while also interfering with traffic and breaking the law. I decided it was easier to thank the good drivers than to expect anything at all from the bad drivers.
So, getting back to what pedestrians and cyclist can do: Don’t ignore your charges, dogs, cats, kids or parrots. Behave in the manner you would have them behave. Please don’t text on the phone or stop to greet one another in the crosswalk. (Even if it’s to tell the crossing guard you love her or him!) Wait until you are on the curb. In such a beautiful and warm community as yours (at least we hope it is) it will happen often that you are talking and sharing with each other but do it when you reach the sidewalk well away from the curb so there is no confusion for the drivers or the crossing guard about your intentions to cross.
Cyclists. You are my heroes. Do not ride in the crosswalk, especially when there is a constable or crossing guard. Walk your bike or ride on the road. It is illegal always to ride in a crosswalk but especially not a good idea when children or handicapped people are crossing. If a crossing guard is crossing people it is because they may have varying abilities to react to unexpected vehicles in the crosswalk. A bike is a vehicle unless it is a handicap device.
Finally, stay safe. Take chances with your fashion, your creativity, your generosity, and your interests, and your limits but not with traffic. That`s just dumb.
MUSING BUT NOT AMUSING?
I have been imagining all the things that I could do now that I am no longer responsible for anyone else.
I still have my crossing guard job and within the three hours a day I am occasionally responsible for getting people (I wish more children walked to school) safely across the street.
Some adults think it is hilarious that I am crossing them. “I feel like a kid again!” Some think it’s annoying. I scold them when they are too impatient for the light to change and head out ahead of me on the red. I don’t tell them I have years of looking after people who were either looking forward to being independent, or looking back on the loss of it and so no stink eye of the type one might expect from a teenage is going to thwart me…
I didn’t look after kids or my mother for the approval I would gain. That was good too because being a caregiver is really hard and often criticized by those who have never been one but know a lot about it from watching television. Although it was nice when appreciation was expressed, it came, less often than it would in a television sitcom but more often than I probably remember. (And I am sorry for this, truly.)
I just like knowing what needs to be done and then doing it. It feels good. There, I said it. I am not a self sacrificing saint or anything like it. I am just a person lacking in imagination. Maybe. Maybe that is it.
So while I would like to sell everything and go and stand on the front lines of some injustice, other than getting hurt I don’t think I can contribute much; Or finish the two books I started to write when I was younger and smarter and able to drink more than one cup of coffee a day without a gastro-disaster; or finally finish that enormous painting I started (what was I thinking?) that is facing the wall as if the painting was ashamed and not me, it kills my back to stand and paint; Or try to learn to speak French, something that I found easier when I was still drinking wine, *sigh*. None of these things will likely happen.
The anniversary of my mother’s death is rapidly approaching and I promised myself I would give myself a year before making any major decisions.
I am no longer responsible for anyone else. I come home exhausted and eat one of the frozen meals I made on the weekend and then do some hand sewing while some really violent Netflix show plays. It is the only way I can watch some of these programs. If I actually look at the screen too often, OMG, PTSD.
So I bake cookies when I am unsure, maybe I’ll manage a trip to see my Old Teacher over the holidays, bounce my grandson on my knee. And follow my favourite blogs, those that make the world still seem a place full hope and beauty and adventure, and good will for all.
I realize that it “ain’t rocket science” as the woman who trained me said but it can be demanding, especially at rush hour at a four way intersection in a busy downtown area.
There are many pleasant things about it, not the least of which are seeing all the everyday human interactions that are for the most part lovely. People can be very kind.
-a woman tells me after I ask if she would like me to cross her that she went to the school as a child and crossed this very intersection with a crossing guard, and “here I am feeling eleven years old again!”
-an elderly lady says she doesn’t live around here anymore; Her friend and roommate died and so she came back to the old neighbourhood, because “you can’t be all alone feeling sad, you have to get out.” She had just been to visit the owner of the convenience store who she told me was “the nicest man on the planet.”
-people with walkers and canes and wheelchairs smiling and saying thank you and you can see that they are, despite pain and difficulty, grateful just to be out and pushing themselves to remain a part of the fabric of the neighbourhood, and people with issues with reality, with their minds, doing the same
-numerous and sundry people thanking me for being there, their hope that I would be placed there as a permanent crossing guard, (some introduced themselves and their children and asked my name)
-I see people parting for the day with kisses, I see people enjoying the sudden warm Autumn weather at the coffee shop patio reading their papers sitting in the Muskoka chairs that are lined along the wall. The gaggles of pre-teenage girls plotting and pruning and laughing, the boys perpetually uncomfortable and posturing, the dog walkers, the harried parents and bubbling babies and bouncing and fidgeting children, the late ones, the ones who keep their heads down, the ones who smile like other worldly beings, wise and gentle…
There is also a pretty awesome graffic on the the wall across from me. Can’t post a pic but I will take note of the signature and pass it on later.
I find each rush hour intense. The drivers are in such a rush it is at times exhausting to keep an eye out for potential issues but I am sure it will come naturally after a time. It’s funny how some A.Hats will give me a WTF because I am walking as bright as an orange with my sign and vest to the curb as they are trying to WHAT? PUSH ME OUT OF THEIR WAY WITH THERE BIG STUPID HIGHLANDER TRUCK? because they Have to Make a Right TURN NOW!!!…? in a school zone when kids could run out at any time in front of their impatience and then change a whole bunch of lives for the worse? So I shrug my shoulders and make each step count as I step to the curb and lower the sign and smile.
Humans. But these are humans in large fast moving vehicles that weigh tonnes, trying to get to their next big mistake EVEN FASTER. 🙂
Getting to know a neighbourhood is like getting to know a person.
I hope I do go back to this crosswalk next week.
Happy safe Thanksgiving!