The Things You See When You Pay Attention


The setting:

Busy intersection in NW DC evening rush hour.

The problem:

Even though the hand on the pedestrian sign was blinking (meaning get your ass to the Unknown-5other side or just stay put), the man in the wheel chair started across. Ugh.  He’s not gonna make it before the opposing light turns green.  With 2 lanes on each side and a huge median?  Not gonna happen.  But…he keeps going.  I am a little bit nervous, watching from behind the old man, hoping that the people who are about to have a green light just stay cool and let him get across with no yelling or honking.  Or worse.  Please people, stay cool.

The build:

Out of nowhere, come two teens who, by appearance were either on their way to or from committing a felony (settle down, you might have thought worse).  In any event, they were two rough-looking kids.  Knowing they weren’t going to make the light walking, they start sprinting to beat the light.  And wow are they are prime-of-their-lives lightning fast.  They fly right by the man in the wheel chair, and get almost to the other side, when one yells something to the other and they both stop in their fast tracks, and pivot back the other way.

The arc:

Teen #1 runs behind old man’s wheel chair, grabs the handles, starts jogging and pushing him across the intersection.

Teen #2 stands BIG in front of the opposing two lanes on the opposite side, holds up his hands like a traffic cop, clears the way for his buddy to push old man and wheel chair safely to the side.  by now the light has been green for a few seconds, and the drivers all heed teen#2-turned-traffic-cop.  no one honked, no one cursed out of their windows, no one moved.

The comedy relief:

Teen #1 and old man get to the curb, teen #2, in a dramatic moment that made me laugh out loud, motions the oncoming traffic to proceed and trots over to the curb.  (i mean, really. all the kid needed was a whistle – he was a natural)

The conclusion:

With all three now on the sidewalk and traffic now moving through the intersection, the old man maneuvers his chair to the left resuming his journey, teens #1 and #2 go to the right on theirs.   I don’t even think they said goodbye to the old man, nor the old man to them.

The lesson:

Very interesting the things you see when you pay attention.

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