I grew up (from the age of 6, so at least mostly) in rural Nevada County. Actually in the small town of Rough & Ready, CA. It was a town of less than 200 when we moved there in the early 60s. The big town (5,000 – Grass Valley) was ten miles away. So, walking the streets or crossing the streets really didn’t happen in R&R. It was crossing the road, AND there is a difference. As a young boy with two older brothers, we walked everywhere. Our house was in the middle of eleven acres and the “driveway” was 1/4 of a mile long and a pretty steep incline. So, riding bikes was something we did, just not that much. Plus, much of our walking wasn’t on roads or even paths. It was through fields, pastures, woods, etc.
Upon those occasions when we went to “town” you took your habits with you. So, we certainly didn’t cross streets in cross walks, we just did as we did on the roads; waited for cars to pass and crossed the road. These habits are with me to this day.
Have any of you noticed that you can get a bit of a tell on a City’s personality by the way people cross the street? I’ve always felt at home in NYC. HUH? A person mostly raised in rural Nevada County?
JDT and I went to Viet Nam in October 2019. My favorite part of the trip was in Hanoi. Hanoi is in the north and was the capital of the old North Viet Nam which was communist and the American opposition during the Viet Nam war. It retains some of its communist roots, yet is this vibrant, emerging, incredibly entrepreneurial culture. Second HUH? We stayed in the craziness of Hanoi. One of my favorite keepsakes from the trip is a cell phone video I took from the rooftop “bar” of our hotel. It is a bit over a minute and captures one of the essences of Hanoi. The video is during normal early evening of an intersection of six streets. First, you must know that the main form of transportation in Hanoi is the motor scooter. My guess is they outnumber cars 5 or even 10 to 1. It is amazing to see a family of four (third HUH?) making their way through the craziness. So, the video captures all of these motor scooters coming together in a random and orderly (fourth HUH?) fashion and seemingly unfazed. A bit more than half way through the video a family crosses in the middle of this craziness. AGAIN unfazed and unharmed. In my walking, which included many street crossings (few damn crosswalks!), once I figured out the personality, I took instantly to it. You see, once you get started there is no pausing. You pause and a major accident will occur. Trust me, this may have happened had I not so gently goaded JDT to trust the plan and charge forward.
NYC has its own personality. It is not for the faint of heart. I’ve learned how to almost instantly spot a tourist. They are the ones standing at a crossing, with no cars coming and waiting for the walk image to appear. New Yorkers never do this. Life will pass you by if you let it. Some of my favorite experiences have simply been crossing the street (no damn crosswalks!) with a car approaching in the distance. The car will almost always honk (such a New York thing). I used to get offended in a CA kind of way! Not nearly as often now. I mostly just give them a little wave (possibly single finger depending on how long their honk lasts), grin and know how much I miss this when I am gone.
Just reason number 57 of so many reasons to enjoy life’s adventures!!