I have noticed more and more that basic skills and the knowledge necessary to function in society is gradually being unlearned by the people in this country. I don’t know exactly how it started but I think I know what might be the root cause: Laziness, and a belief of entitlement. I think that’s the simplest way to put it.
Laziness itself I am planning to write another post on so I will only skim over my thoughts on that here, and I think the entitlement thing is perhaps more relevant.
Let me ask you: have you tried to cross the road recently?
Almost certainly you have and the chances are that at least one of those times you will have tried to cross at a designated crossing and that that crossing was a pelican crossing.
Now let me ask you this: do you know how to cross at a pelican crossing?
I sincerely hope that you do. It’s a fairly simple affair and one which no doubt was practiced during your youth whilst out shopping with your parents perhaps. For old time’s sake, let’s go through the simple steps together.
Step 1: Press the button
Step 2: Wait for the Green Man
Step 3: Cross the road
Now it seems that more regularly than not people are neglecting to complete Step 1. Did you think I was going to say Step 2? That would be far more logical, but alas no. Step 1: Press the button. This is the part that seems too much for people. Too much effort? Too much thought? I don’t know. I just know that this piece of knowledge: that in order for the pelican crossing to change the lights and stop the traffic, the button must to be pressed, is slipping from the nation’s collective memory.
Just the other morning I came up to a crossing and actually had to reach past a woman perched on her bike, looking from left to right, left to right, in order to press the button. I had to stop myself saying “Hey! Magic!” aloud as the word ‘WAIT’ lit up on the box.
My personal opinion as to why this is happening is to do with people’s growing belief that things will (or should) be done for them. That they are entitled to everything they want, without having to do anything for it. I imagine the thought process to be something like this (albeit subconciously): I want to cross the road, therefore the lights will change and the traffic will stop. I shouldn’t have to do anything to make this happen; the universe should know that I want to cross, and alter things accordingly.
Now you could argue that this approach does indeed work as someone like me ends up pressing the button and stopping the traffic, allowing the ignorami to continue on their way. I won’t deny the logic, but then this raises a question: As the physical manifestation of the will of the Universe, do I then inherit the status of some kind of supreme being? I figure if the universe acts through me I must be pretty bloody special.
A matter for another day perhaps.
The point is, somehow people have gone from knowing that they have to do something to make the traffic stop, to believing that it should stop for them automatically. Has there been a rise in zebra crossings? I don’t think so. If anything it’s pelican crossings that have increased in number. Unfortunately I think it’s the fact that more and more junctions have lead to the lights having to change automatically, but the critical difference is that this is for the sake of the traffic, not the pedestrians. It just happens that eventually the lights change and as a by-product allow passage for the people on foot. This is probably why people are stupid enough to think that eventually this will happen at every crossing they come to. The thought that they might speed the process up by activating the crossing themselves never seems to occur.
Far more dangerously however, the drivers of the traffic being forced by the mystical powers of the universe (i.e. me) to stop at these crossings are also collectively unlearning how they work, but from a different perspective. Once again, for old time’s sake, let’s run through how the lights work for traffic on a pelican crossing:
SOLID AMBER: STOP (if you can safely do so)
FLASHING AMBER: GO (if you can safely do so)
However it appears drivers are getting confused and think the code is as follows:
RED: STOP (but only if you reeeeally have to, otherwise try to get away with it)
SOLID AMBER: SPEED UP!!!
FLASHING AMBER: GO! (but if there are pedestrians, rev at them to make them hurry up)
Clearly this incongruity is quite dangerous from the pedestrian’s point of view because the critical moment is when the lights change from green to solid amber, thereby signalling the traffic to stop and the pedestrian to go. The combination of the traffic speeding up and the pedestrian going is not in any way going to work.
I suspect that the reason for this behaviour is that anyone in a car must be in a terrible rush to get where they’re going and that any cause to slow or even stop their progress must be terribly frustrating for them. A pedestrian on the other hand must have all the time in the world to get where they’re going, otherwise why would they be walking? Plus cars are bigger and bigger things shouldn’t have to stop for little things.
There is hope however. The morning after I helped the lady on the bike cross the road I happened to reach the same crossing at the same time as her once again. To my surprise she stopped and pressed the button! I was so proud! I had taught! Thanks to me she was now armed with the knowledge necessary to cross any pelican crossing she needed to!
I held my head high as we stood side by side waiting for the lights to change.
Jebus, are the lights even bloody working?…
Change damn you!
Oh sod this. There’s a gap in the traffic, I’ll just go for it. I’m in a bloody hurry.