Dear Driver Who Didn’t Stop,
I’d been running for a little over 26 minutes when I reached the marked crosswalk where our paths intersected. To be honest, I’m feeling quite tired so I was more than happy to stand and catch my breath when I hit the button to turn on the flashing lights you might have seen had you not been looking at your phone.
I heard you coming before I saw you.
I could hear the hum of your engine and the sound of your winter tires – don’t forget to get them changed! – as you drove towards the crosswalk. Did you know I stopped wearing headphones when I’m running in the city to make sure I’m more aware of my surroundings?
Before I pressed the button, you were still quite far away. You had lots of road and plenty of time to stop – but you didn’t. As I heard the chiming that accompanies the flashing lights of this particular crosswalk, I looked both ways again, watching two cars stop fully. And that’s when I saw you drive through.
Maybe you were late getting back to work after lunch, or perhaps you had a grocery run before after-school pickup. Perhaps it was the school calling, your partner texting, or you needed to check the map. It’s entirely possible you were just changing your music.
I saw you look up from your phone. I saw you react. I’ve been there.
As you drove past me (and the cars behind you stopped), I started to cross the street. I waved to the cars as I watched your taillights go up and over the little hill. I saw you check your rearview mirror, looking through the window where your stick family stickers live.
I know how important your family is, because I have one, too. I know the inner-dialogue you had: I know you know what could have happened when you didn’t stop.
But I did.
I stop at every crosswalk because cars and their drivers can drive away, but not stopping could mean that I never run again.
I stop because this body is mine, and it is my job to protect it.
I stop because stopping at crosswalks is my responsibility.
I stop even though I hate breaking my stride. I stop even if I don’t see a car, because a single moment can change everything.
I’ve become the pedestrian every driver hates: the one who makes you sit an extra two seconds because she won’t cross until she’s sure everyone’s stopped.
If I’m honest, I sometimes get irritated with pedestrians like me.
If I’m honest, I’ve been fiddling with the volume, looking in the rearview mirror, talking to F, or busily rocking out in my car while driving before. I’ve seen the pedestrian waiting at the crosswalk too late to stop. I’ve been you.
I know how rattled you were as you drove away. I know how rattled I was, how rattled I’ve been, how rattled we both could have been. But we weren’t, and hopefully next time we can all do better.
Drive safely. Run safely. Be safe.