The Nitty Gritty

But more than all of those I am an entertainer. I carry around a ukulele with me for the same reason a gangster carries a gun; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Stage or sidewalk, Your Pal Pete shows are just where they happen.
Currently, I'm working on a musical, RagnaPOP(or she's got the bomb), set to premiere at this year's Capital Fringe Festival. I'm also working on music, comedy, and musical comedy; for kids and/or adults.
The fruit of these projects will be available on this site, so check back regularly!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Orange Flags of Courtesy, Part 1

If you drive where I work, the Chevy Chase section of DC, you may see them. On Connecticut Avenue, they are there. Kids, Mothers pushing stroller, grandmothers at the crosswalks welding the orange flags of courtesy. Waving them wildly, they bring all the pageantry of a junior high football half-time show to the normally mundane act of street crossing.

Once, in the hallowed times before the flags,while the freeway snipers were still roaming free, a customer at the toy store asked if I thought it was safe for her and her grand daughter to walk a block down the street to Starbucks. I broke it down for her,”Sniper or not, It’s not safe to walk down the street.”

Chevy Chase has the friendly close knit residents and pedestrian Influx of a community but all the traffic jackassery of a large city, where cars dart through streets like a herd of fidgety cats that have to be somewhere else, RIGHT NOW! When I moved here I came up with an unofficial slogan for this phenomenon : yielding’s just another word of nothing left to lose.

It’s a little regarded DC law that if a pedestrian has to cross at a crosswalk, whatever oncoming vehicles have to stop for them. At first the DC department of transportation just put a few signs on the side of the road as you cross into DC from Maryland, a gentle nudge. But if people disregard the big red traffic light in front of them, how are they going to notice the subtle 9x12 sign? Regardless, no one would dare try to cross street unless the coast was clear, remember what I just said about yielding?

They got a little more direct, bolting narrow 3 foot signs to the center of the street at the crosswalks saying, “DC law YIELD at crosswalks" with the appropriate pictographs for the non reader. They had a springy base on the off chance (really more of a eventuality) that a car might hit it.

The only way they could have lasted a shorter period of time is if they were made of fresh bananas. They’d almost immediately have black marks up and down the sides from getting hit by cars. The marks quickly became chips in the safety yellow borders, leaving just the bolted stump in between 2 and 3 weeks of it’s life.

Then came the orange flags. At the two crosswalks in the neighborhood, on either side of the street were racks of small orange flags on a wooden stick, eight on each side. A sign on every rack explained that you carry it, along with your innate pedestrian righteousness, to stop traffic.

“I don’t like ‘um.” one guy told me,”gives people a false sense of security.” With the adrenaline soaked gridlock breaking still being done with SUVs and Volvos alike, any sense of security was a false one.

Part 2 later... I’ve been a little self conscience about the length of my blogs.

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