As I was driving yesterday morning I saw a man leave a bank and enter the road, on foot. He stopped between some parked cars and waited for an opportunity to cross the road. He was probably expecting me to stop and other drivers to stop and let him cross. Just as the Santa Barbara Police Department has a saying (probably on a T-shirt) "No body, no crime," I have a saying "No crosswalk, no stop." Cold and heartless? Of course not. Jaywalking is a crime. Though not even a misdemeanor in some jurisdictions, it is usually at least an infraction. The typical punishment in either case is a minimal fine. Money isn't the issue though, it is safety. I confess, I am an occasional offender in this case. I do jaywalk at times, but I feel I do so responsibly. That is not to excuse myself, as I would never excuse a criminal who was responsible in robbing a bank or committing a murder. "I plead not guilty to robbing the bank. Sure, I held a gun to the man's head and pushed him to the ground, but the safety was on! Obviously I took money that didn't belong to me, but I said please!" That might have the markings of responsibility (it doesn't), but it isn't responsible. I jaywalk when the road is clear and I do not pose an interruption to the flow of traffic, that's my goal for being responsible about it. The way I see it is that I am capable of crossing a road without dying, so I will. If that means not using a crosswalk, then sometimes that's the way it is. Any person who steps in front of a moving vehicle and expects that vehicle to stop is a jay, a rube, an imbecile. In the battle between moving vehicle and me, I don't stand a chance. I'm not going to chance it. Hence responsible jaywalking. Though wherever jaywalking is a crime, I do not endorse the practice of it, responsible or otherwise. I suppose the only real responsible street crossing is to obey traffic markings and signals and employ active observation of traffic. I never walk anywhere any more so I don't have much need to cross roads. But that's mostly irrelevant.
I decided to read some facts about jaywalking so I typed it into the search bar on the browser. I checked out the Wikipedia post for it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaywalking) even though school taught me that you have to be careful with that site. I think it is informative for basic things like this, but I wouldn't cite it as a reference, well, you know, in a real piece of writing. This blog is "casual Friday" about that kind of stuff. Yes, I did just use that phrase in that context, feel free to do so yourself. Example: I am casual Friday when it comes to matters of foreign policy. Back to the Internet search. I found this section of results interesting:
Cue singing: "One of these things is not like the others." Sorry about the fuzzy-wuzzy image. It's legible though. What do Chinese and dryers have to do with jaywalking? That's what I want to know. If you find out anything, let me know. I suppose I could have clicked on the link and maybe found out, too late now.
Back to my original thought. As I was driving and saw the man who obviously wanted to cross the road but was not at a designated pedestrian crossing area I wondered if it is possible to be an accessory to jaywalking. Many crimes have accessory charges associated with them. Perhaps there can't be an accessory to an infraction though. I guess in most cases it just hasn't been legislated. It probably never will be as the general rule is that pedestrians in the street are given the right of way, common sense dictating. That's not to say it is fair game to run over people not in a crosswalk, nor is it to say that if you hit someone who irresponsibly jumps out in front of your car that you are fully responsible. Maybe you are, I don't know. The point is, if I had stopped to let that man cross the street when he wasn't on a crosswalk (he was pretty close to equal distance between two crosswalks) then I would have been an accessory to his crime. I don't need that. I think it would be entertaining to see someone get charged (as long as that someone isn't me) with accessory to jaywalking. I'd also like to see someone picked up for conspiracy to commit jaywalking. If someone walking along the road starts walking towards the curb, maybe takes one step into the road and then steps back up and keeps walking on the sidewalk. It could be argued that they were thinking about jaywalking. I guess these issues aren't really that high on the priority list. But wouldn't it be sweet if they were? How about if the worst crime being committed was jaywalking? It'd be a nice place to live. Or we would adapt our ways of thinking so that jaywalking would be as morally reprehensible as murder. It would take some time, but it would happen. I guess.
So be careful out there.
What? No references to Jay Leno's Jaywalking bit? There's one.
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