Oh, the joys of the pedestrian in Santa Monica – at least apart from 3rd Street Promenade, where – so far – no cars have yet mowed down our fellow featherless bipeds.
But on any other street east of the Pacific Ocean, and at just about any time of day or night, it’s quite another story, as the sorry annals of this increasingly clogged dragway for distracted, drugged, or technology-drunken motorists attests.
Dare to cross any of Santa Monica’s main streets by day or night, whether it’s at a traffic light (and you have the walk light), or at the zebra stripes, and you’d better be armed with an 8-foot flaming spear and an air horn to announce your – safety be damned – courageous intent to cross the street.
For — don’t you know — everyone is texting.
And not only texting, but checking their GPS for the nearest donut shop.
And fiddling with their tablets.
And talking on the phone (hands-free or not – the studies suggest both are equally bad).
And changing the CD.
And watching Netflix on their smartphone.
Sometimes they may be doing all of the above – and looking right at you.
So, dear vulnerable ones — that is, you there who dare to cross Santa Monica streets knowing that you put your life and limb on the line — take a few words of advice from this amiable resident, who has acquired some reasonably inexpensive armaments as preemptive strikes/defensive missiles:
1. A rolled up New Yorker magazine to hold high in your hand with the look of a deranged asylum escapee on your face;
2. Used tennis balls to throw at approaching cars – aim for the windshield, driver’s side – remember, it’s your life that’s at stake;
3. A large liquor bottle, preferably empty, also to hold high in your hand and wave maniacally as you enter the intersection;
4. A baseball bat – you sports fans, especially – it’s amazingly effective when wielded wildly in circles as you prepare to step off the curb.
And now we come to what to do when the defensive maneuvers don’t work – the punitive measures:
1. Use the aforesaid rolled-up New Yorker as retaliation – aim for the passenger side of the car. Just be prepared to run and hide if the driver slams on the brakes and comes after you.
2. Take a very thick leather jacket – strike the side of the passing motorist’s car – it sounds very much like a dead body. “Did you just hit my car?!?” “Of course not!” And run! These guys are homicidal!
3. Ladies especially will appreciate the joys of this one: a bottle of neon-bright pink nail polish to smash at the offending vehicle – so they’re easy to tag assuming any police are around to pursue (though be prepared to be arrested for some silly offense, like protecting your life)
4. As the car backs up onto your feet, or rolls out of an alleyway without looking and you’re blithely passing on the sidewalk, hammer your fists like mad on the hood or the trunk and scream four-letter epithets at the top of your lungs.
These measures serve didactic purposes (maybe the buggers will think twice next time) and also slake your urge for revenge.
Did I say I speak from personal experience?
Now that might get me into trouble with the authorities, so I’ll just leave you guessing.
And speaking of authorities, if you check the police department’s website tips for pedestrians, you can’t help conclude that they’re telling you “drop dead!”
In the meantime, maybe someone will raise the issue of pedestrian safety at a city council meeting – though for sure she’ll be drowned out by the money-starved developers, or worse, the effete city leaders sitting high and mighty on the dais will just turn an indifferent ear.