To cross or not to cross; that is a pertinent question.
I think crossing roads is an innate ability, like being able to dance or to skip rope; you are either born with it or you are potential fodder for fast cars.
It is a challenge making complex foot movements while dancing with a partner without mashing your partner’s—or, Heaven forbid, your own—feet into flippers. Or gauging a circling rope, in a crouch, and rocking back and forth on the balls of your feet; listening to the whap-whap-whap rhythm of the rope and attempting to synchronize your body rhythm to it; targeting the right entry and ducking under at the right moment for a skip. Experts will have a swell time, hopping over the rope scoop, and even making a dance while skipping. I felt this skill can be acquired, but after several trips, slips and spills into involuntary salaams, I have learnt to skip skipping. A skip rope, considered in the hands of experts as a recreational tool, I consider a live snare and treat as such. I also, when asked to, decline dances.
However, you can’t just decide not to cross roads. Sooner or later, you will have to face TRAFFIC, the steady stream of bi-directional metal monsters looming over and bearing down at you at lethal speeds.
Most of you must have played Tetris growing up. You remember the road-crossing game (I think it is option D2 in the menu)? I always get sweaty palms when playing the game where the player is a block of digital bytes crossing lanes of other bytes blocks and trying to avoid other bytes blocks moving in either direction from hitting him (accompanied by an awful explosion of byte blocks the sound of a synthesized crackle of vigorously rubbed cellophane and aluminium foil). When that happens, my heart jumps a bit (geddit, lol?) like I was involved in an actual accident.
After a series of successful road crosses, when you are gripped in the certainty that, after all, it is also an acquired skill which you have acquired, you cross roads more confidently. You consider the enterprise (yes, now; it is an enterprise) like a mini Indiana Jones adventure featuring you, Indy.
Then, suddenly, you lose your nerve and you are totally unhinged. The vehicles hurtle past and it is back to sweaty palm Tetris world, only realer this time. The cars barge past, each a potential lethal opportunity, a chance to kiss your ass goodbye, no pun intended. It would be bearable if you only had to cross one lane, but you have another, to consider after the first one, of cars coming in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION! So, success in crossing the first half is actually more cause for concern because you are right there in the midst of NASCAR enemy territory and might be looking to find a break in traffic when Michael Schumacher from the other lane swerves out of the line into the median area, mashing his horn, which is the last thing you hear before he makes minced meat out of you.
Consequently, you lose all spatiotemporal frames of reference you learnt in Phy 101 (you must have solved this problem or one like it: a northbound car, 5km away and moving at 200kmh, and a southbound one moving at 150kmh, when will they meet? I don’t know but I wouldn’t like to be in either –or near the road, for that matter— when they do). In fact, physics is the farthest thing from your mind.
-No! Car at 50 yards, incoming!
-I can make it before—.
-See, it’s taking its time. Just wave and pass.
-No, let’s wait for the other one.
-Oh no, the other one is faster.
-The third, then.
The third, fourth and fifth pass in quick succession. By this time, you are aware that the traffic is not your friend, and if you wish to get anywhere on the other side anytime before the last Saturday of the month—which is public sanitation, and therefore all cars will be off the street—you have to do something drastic.
Damn it all, you resolve, say a quick prayer, and dash headlong into the road, hoping neither maim nor mortality befall you till you get to your destination.
Halfway through, you leap in a long jump (Chioma Ajunwa, 1996 Olympics Gold medallist) and hop unto the opposite curb, as your butt plug of frozen fear slowly melts into euphoric relief.
Only a deep-rooted sense of self-respect prevents you from banging your knees into the floor and smacking your forehead and lips repeatedly into the floor in thanksgiving. You may also hear several car horns blaring and a din of clamouring voices behind and about you. At this point, you should have the good grace to sweep around and into the elaborate bow of a composer after the performance of his magnum opus.
Because the uproar just might be the applause of adulatory fans who witnessed such a bravura road crossing.
Written by The Yakadude