Column: Personal safety before being right

By David Solana

While growing up, I was perpetually bombarded with advice designed to save my life or protect me from the sundry dangers that could lead to severe physical or mental scarring. I can distinctly remember the lesson wherein my father instructed me to ferociously bite any would-be kidnappers. That one will be with me forever, even if I never find myself in a situation that required tasting someone who wants to steal me.

The less-funny lesson, which I use daily in my waking life, is to look both ways before crossing the street. It’s good I was taught to look both ways and not just to the left, because I almost stepped in front of a bus once while vacationing in England.

Back on campus Monday, I watched junior in communications Benjamin Robin, who apparently stepped in front of a northbound bus Monday while attempting to cross Wright Street, get carried away on a stretcher. Now I consider myself an agile, safe pedestrian. I almost always cross at intersections with cross walks and on the rare occasion when I feel a need to walk through the middle of a street, I wait patiently for all traffic to pass. I can confidently assert I have never been nearly run over or actually hit while taking a jaunt through the middle of a road.

The times I have barely dodged cars and the one time I was broadsided by a car, I have always been on a sidewalk or following all laws pursuant to bike riders or pedestrians. The unfortunate student who was run over and killed by an MTD bus in October was in a crosswalk. It’s difficult to imagine how that might have happened. I am generally content with the MTD service, but I can also recount an aberration – the time a 24 Scamp tried quite persistently to cut me off while I was crossing Goodwin Avenue on Green Street.

About five steps into the crosswalk, the little white man, who supposedly signals my having the right to enter a crosswalk with the intent to cross, changed to the flashing red hand, which means if I am not yet in the cross walk I should stay out, but it’s okay to keep going if I’m already there. The polite bus driver, who had a green light, but is obliged to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, tried to make a right turn in front of me. I kept walking. Yeah, I was talking to my father on my cell phone even as the driver continued forcing me to walk in a now-angular trajectory carrying me out of the crosswalk.

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    I’m a stickler for standing up for my rights when I feel they’re encroached upon. So I kept walking until the bus driver was forced to stop and let me cross Goodwin Avenue. I was almost completely across the road when I realized he had stopped. I turned to look at him, and he was staring at me with what seemed to be a desire to trap me in his bus door and drive off with half of my body hanging out in the street.

    I am also an obstinate ass. So I smiled. He then pointed forcefully at the flashing red hand. I nodded my agreement to him thinking, “Yes, you’re right. It was rude of you to try to cut me off when I clearly had a right to be crossing the street here and now.” I, feeling happily vindicated, hurried across what remained of the street because the incident had caused me to be in the crosswalk after the hand stopped flashing.

    It’s funny how parents never stop teaching. My dad, who had been getting a running commentary, told me I’m really not that smart and should put my personal safety over my desire to always be right. I think after seeing the results of bus-student collisions I am now ready to concede yet another point to my father, and agree that sometimes it’s just best to suffer the irrelevant power people want to exert over me when nothing more than my pride is at stake.