New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Commentary

Counting Coup

In some Native American cultures a young warrior wishing to prove his merit would ride straight at the enemy, touch him and ride away. He reserved the act of killing for edible game. The objective here was to prove courage. There seems to be a version of this test of conspicuous courage taking place in New Britain at most crosswalks, and sometimes between them.

The participants are a person on foot and a person in a vehicle. There can be multiples of both, and the on foot person may in fact be in a wheel chair or scooter. But full marks for bravery can only be earned when facing off with a motor vehicle.

The sequence of events goes like this. Vehicle and pedestrian reach an intersection at the same time. The pedestrian crosses in front of the vehicle in the most dangerous manner at hand. If there is a walk light, it is considered cowardice to use it. If there are “zebra” stripes, one crosses outside them. It is best to cross just as the light is about to change, when the vehicle driver’s foot is already hovering above the accelerator.

Special credit is earned if the crossing is made in front of a car just beginning to turn right on red. Gold stars are awarded if the driver’s head is turned away checking for on-coming traffic. Everyone gets bonus points for using a cell phone or tablet throughout the crossing.

Persons who require additional time to cross earn extra credit. Mothers with strollers, especially with tardy toddlers in tow, get double points if they step off the curb against the light. Elderly persons tottering with walkers earn triple credit when they cross in the middle of the block without looking.

Persons in power chairs or self-propelled wheelchairs can move faster than persons on foot so they are to be admired only when they must negotiate intersections without ramps. Riders of bicycles likewise have a speed advantage so may participate only if they reach the intersection by weaving around at least three cars and then ride through without touching the brakes.

The intersection yielding the highest results in New Britain is in front of the courthouse where one must cross to reach the restaurants and stores downtown, or perhaps the new police station. Conspicuous bravery is frequently shown here by persons in suits carrying briefcases

There appear to be a great many people hereabouts counting great coup.