I’m declaring the pandemic over. We kicked its ass. The government might not agree with me, though. Hundreds, if not thousands, are still dying each day from the viral infection, but I’m saying it’s nothing to worry about. Up until a few days ago I would have argued that we were still in the firm grasp of the virus that has raced around the world, afflicting the populations of every country on earth. And, that it might not be a bad thing as far as humanity is concerned.
Now, though, I’m declaring the pandemic created by COVID-19 over. Finished. Fini. Finito. Tapos. Kaput. The government doesn’t agree with me, and you probably don’t either. But, I have proof.
The past two years have been very pleasant being a pedestrian on the sidewalks of the cities I have visited. The vehicle drivers have been very courteous, stopping for pedestrians crossing the street at marked crosswalks, whether those crosswalks have been at intersections, or in the middle of a block. I’ve even witnessed drivers stopping for people waiting to cross where there is no crosswalk. What a novel thing, people actually caring enough to be courteous towards others.
Now, let’s fast-forward through two years to yesterday. That was the day I realized the pandemic is over. People no longer seem to care about others. Courtesy, like Elvis, has left the building. It has, once again, become quite treacherous attempting to navigate the streets of town. Allow me to elaborate.
I believe it was July or August 2015 when I posted a blog, or maybe it was on Facebook, about coming close to being rundown by a very large pickup. Actually, the pickup was no larger than your average F150, however when you consider the 6” lift kit, over-sized tires, and massive front bumper, I believe we could classify the vehicle as large. I was crossing the street (at a marked crosswalk, with the green light in my favor) when said large vehicle made a right on red that took it into my path in the clearly defined crosswalk. If I hadn’t put on the brakes to my forward motion, I could have damaged that pickup, not to say cause serious harm to myself.
That was 2015. Four-and-a-half years later the pandemic struck. Fewer vehicles were now patrolling the streets in the cities of the nation, in search of unsuspecting pedestrians. And, the vehicles that were on the road were being piloted by individuals who actually seemed to care about their fellow (wo)man. It was great. People have actually been stopping to allow pedestrians to cross the street, regardless of how wide, or how many lanes, that street happens to be.
Let’s discuss yesterday. Like July 2015, I was crossing at an intersection, with a walk sign indicating it was my turn to proceed. This time, instead of almost being taken out by a large pickup turning right, a mid-sized SUV almost succeeded in ending my daily stroll by turning left into my path. This time, however, altering my forward motion did not entirely remove me from harm’s way. I’m assuming the young female piloting the vehicle that wanted so desperately to proceed through the space I was currently occupying had not seen me. She had a flashing yellow light that indicated she could proceed with her left hand turn when her path was clear. She waited for a vehicle to clear the intersection, and then mashed down on the accelerator. If I had not come to an immediate stop, the collision would have been much worse.
As it was, I was clipped by the mirror on the left-hand side of the SUV. It spun me to my right, but I remained standing. I probably looked like a bowling pin attempting not to fall. But, I stayed upright. The mirror on the vehicle was pushed towards the window when it made contact with my upper left arm. Whether it was designed to do that, or not, I do not know, nor do I care. The driver didn’t even slow down. I hope her mirror was broken. I have a bruised upper arm, but am going to live another day. Maybe. I haven’t gone out car-dodging yet today.
This is not the only incident on which I’m basing my proclamation. Two weeks ago, I had stopped to allow a mother and child to cross the street (well-marked crosswalk, with flashing lights). I was in the left-hand lane. A vehicle in the right-hand lane didn’t even slowdown as it passed me. If the mother and child had been a couple of steps faster, they probably would not be with us today.
A week before that, I witnessed a young lady crossing the street in a marked crosswalk, and heard a male driver shouting profanities at her as he sped by, narrowly missing her.
Also, over the past couple of months I have been noticing the lack of regard for pedestrians in general. Drivers are no longer stopping for them, whether they have stepped off the curb, or not. These drivers are not looking for anyone on foot, or riding a bike, and appear to, once again, think of themselves, and only themselves.
They are not only ignoring anything not resembling a car, or truck, but they are also ignoring speed limit signs. Heaven forbid if you find yourself driving down the street at the posted speed limit. It doesn’t take long and you’ve got a parade of vehicles that have joined your conga line. It kind of reminds me of a Dr. John concert I went to a few years back.
It appears to me that attitudes of the people of this country have gone back to pre-pandemic ways. That is so sad. Now with the pandemic over with, I guess I’ll have to reacquaint myself with attitudes I had thought might be gone forever.
Good night, Mrs. Jackson, wherever you are.
Update: I survived an afternoon of dodging traffic, but one of my contemporaries did not. I had not been strolling the streets long when I came upon a tragic scene. A couple of paramedics were loading into their ambulance a victim of a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident. So, I suppose the pandemic really is over with.