In my wanderings around Wellesley I cross a lot of streets. Because I am a rules-follower I stick to crosswalks and look both ways before venturing out into the domain of vehicles. Because I’m pleasant enough I give a little wave a la Queen Elizabeth, first left, then right, to the traffic that comes to a halt to allow me across. It’s a system that works — the small and meek pedestrian wishes to cross the street, the large and powerful behemoths allow it — but it’s a system that depends on the cooperation of everybody. Yes, I’m talking to you, lady who almost hit me in the crosswalk at the corner of Clifford Street and Wellesley Ave. You could have wrecked my summer, and I’m still mad as all get-out about it.
Before I was imperiled, I was sort of in a chuckling mood. Walking east down Wellesley Ave., I came across a sign that suggested, like a Shel Silverstein poem, there was no more sidewalk and because of this, I should get over to the other side of the road. “Sidewalk ends. Cross here,” the sign said. It all sort of struck me funny. Ha ha. Don’t be silly, the sidewalk most certainly does not end. I can plainly see it right there, rolling out in front of me. Yup, struck me funny alright, until I almost got struck. Then I wasn’t laughing.
It was that rules-following thing that got me into trouble. Because the sign said the sidewalk ended and directed me to cross, I went ahead and did it. Not blindly, mind you. First I looked both ways. Then I stepped into the crosswalk. I saw that driver at stop sign at the corner of Clifford St., and Wellesley Ave., and I had my eye on her. The trouble was, I thought she had her eye on me, too. That’s where things fell apart.
The traffic going northwest down Wellesley Ave had stopped to allow me to cross. The traffic going northeast down Wellesley Ave had stopped to allow me to cross. So out I stepped in to the crosswalk, and out into the crosswalk she barreled as I was a quarter way across Wellesley Ave. Looking back, I recognize this as a clear case of mistaken identity. It has become obvious to me that the driver thought traffic in both directions recognized her as Queen Elizabeth, and that it had graciously stopped to allow her to take a left out of Clifford Street onto Wellesley Ave. In reality, and correctly, the traffic had recognized me as Queen Elizabeth and had stopped to allow me to cross from the Swarthmore Road side of Wellesley Ave to the Clifford St side.
Would Queen Elizabeth have cursed out that driver as she missed barely missed getting flattened? Of course not, and neither did I. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I yelled as I jumped backward. If I’m not the type of person who lets out a string of invectives at a stranger in this situation, I guess I never will be. Because if ever there was a time that called for strong language, this was it.
As in all situations, there can be only one true Queen, and we declare that in this situation we were the one and true Queen. And we are not amused. Yes, I’ve gone over to using the royal “we”. I may not be able to curse like a sailor, but by God I can wield the weapons of grammar with vicious intent.
Fortunately for everyone, pedestrian royalty (an oxymoron?) and driving commoners alike, my “whoa, whoa, whoa” worked. She stopped just short of knocking me down, clutched her pearls and looked somewhat…miffed? Upset? I’m not sure. I do know she didn’t even roll down her window to say sorry, or at least throw up as I walked by her driver-side window, glaring.
On Wellesley Ave., even though the sidewalks are wide and the crosswalks are marked, the crossing is treacherous. Now I know how the Wellesley High School students feel who have to make it to the other side every day. It’s a high-traffic area and there are a lot of drivers who want to pull out onto Wellesley Ave from side streets on either side. Everyone’s always in a rush, and when the cars back up on Clifford St four and five behind you the pressure is on to just go, go, go.
So is this a call for action from the town? Not really. The town is already doing work around there, and they’ve probably already looked at the accident stats at that area. Sure, maybe I do wonder if one of those blinking yellow crosswalk lights might be a good idea. I’m not the first to have been endangered along that stretch.
But I might be the first to openly declare that ever forward when I, or any of my pedestrian people, are walking in a crosswalk, that means we are in residence in that crosswalk. It’s our kingdom. We call it Crosswalk Kingdom. There are rules in Crosswalk Kingdom. When we’re in residence, do not trespass. Do not force us to retreat to avoid violence. Do not question our right to be in residence in Crosswalk Kingdom.
Follow those rules, driving commoners, and no pedestrian royalty gets hurt. That’s my call for action.
Christine Schell says
The treachery is just as great in Natick Center. You cannot be careful enough. MK has 9 lives, and has already used 6.
Deborah Brown says
Stay safe out there, Christine. We can’t afford to lose any River Rats.
Mary Bowers says
Crosswalks can be dangerous IF drivers aren’t alert to pedestrians in them!! Glad you are okay!!
Deborah Brown says
Yes, I am ok. Was shaken but not stirred.
Ugghhh- glad you’re ok! It’s the worst intersection! I was in a car accident there in May- I was on Wellesley Ave. trying to make a left on to Clifford. The guy that ran into me was on Clifford, trying to make a left on to Wellesley Ave. He was so busy sorting out traffic on his right and left, he forgot to look right in front of him, and plowed right into my driver’s side door- my car was in the shop for 3 weeks. Anyway- I’m never in favor of adding more traffic lights, but this intersection needs help!!
Deborah Brown says
I agree, that intersection needs help, MB. That stretch in general has a long and dangerous history.
Joanna Gilbert says
I frequently walk my dog around Wellesley and, in general, most people are considerate. Crossing Wellesley Ave (similar to getting across Weston Rd) is more difficult because there are so many people from outside Wellesley, just blowing through town. Most Wellesley residents respect the “Wellesley Wave” as judged by their RDF stickers, that is.
Deborah Brown says
That’s an interesting perspective, Joanna. I hadn’t thought about it that way. Wish I’d had the presence of mind to look at her windshield. As it was, I was just grateful I wasn’t ON the windshield.
Glad you are fine. Unfortunately, there are a lot of drivers in Wellesley who think they are Queen Elizabeth (I love the way you tell the story). They expect everybody else, including pedestrians, to stop so they can continue through intersections, driveways, etc., without stopping. My sons walk a lot and they keep telling me about cars not stopping at crosswalks in Wellesley. Maybe there could be a little more police controls around. Again, I am glad you are fine. That must have been very scary.