Wait for the white man: Counting the jaywalkers in Durham | Soapboxer
Soapboxer
Editor Jeffrey C. Billman's blog

Archives | RSS

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wait for the white man: Counting the jaywalkers in Durham

Posted by on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Security guards have been hanging out at the corner of Blackwell and Pettigrew streets in Durham all week, tiny steno pads in hand, their pages crammed with hash marks.

click to enlarge photo.jpg


Yesterday I overheard one of them discussing the problem of jaywalking with some passersby.

"Can you get in trouble for jaywalking?" one pedestrian asked.

"Sure you can. The police can ticket you if they catch you," the guard replied, eyeing me as I was, well, jaywalking toward the American Tobacco Campus.

Ever since I heard that police were ticketing people who trespassed on Norfolk Southern property—for months, I had been climbing the old wooden stairs up to, and over, the railroad tracks— I've been traversing Blackwell and Pettigrew. And every day I jaywalk.

The guards have been instructed, by whom, I don't know, to count the number of pedestrians crossing legally and illegally. So far, the tally is running heavily in favor of "illegal," the guard said.

I learned about the rules of crossing the street in kindergarten, although I admittedly was confused, since I lived in the country where there were no stoplights. Then, jaywalking felt like a cultural abstraction, as foreign as the rules regarding the navigation of gondolas in Venetian canals.

As an adult, I've always considered jaywalking not a crime, but a sign of independence. Walk when there are no cars coming. Don't walk when they're are. I'm capable of deciding.

Some of us, admittedly, are not. One man crossed in front of a car just as the light turned green.

In the two minutes or so that I stood there, waiting to cross legally—I was not looking for trouble, no, not me—at least five people jaywalked. And the guard drew at least five hashmarks in the tiny steno pad.


I told the guard that since the Durham Bulls opening night is this evening, and the Full Frame Documentary Festival starts today, that hundreds of people would be crossing that intersection. A second steno pad might be necessary.
Two more men sauntered across the intersection, although no cars were coming in either direction, so they were not in harm's way.

"Don't be jaywalking, now!" the guard advised a man who crossed while the red hand on the sign was blinking. "Wait for the white man."

"This is America," he replied.


The editor's blog documents life in the Triangle in photographs, conversations and stories. Reach Lisa Sorg at lsorg@indyweek.com.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Soapboxer



Twitter Activity

Comments

I'm still waiting for Trump to openly condemn the white supremacist and neo nazi groups. It disgusts me that he …

by ammi on Donald Trump Lit the Fuse That Led to Heather Heyer’s Murder (Soapboxer)

Donald Trump did not murder Heather Heyer, the thirty-two-year-old paralegal who was killed when a car allegedly driven by neo-Nazi …

by Jeff You Suck on Donald Trump Lit the Fuse That Led to Heather Heyer’s Murder (Soapboxer)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

I'm still waiting for Trump to openly condemn the white supremacist and neo nazi groups. It disgusts me that he …

by ammi on Donald Trump Lit the Fuse That Led to Heather Heyer’s Murder (Soapboxer)

Donald Trump did not murder Heather Heyer, the thirty-two-year-old paralegal who was killed when a car allegedly driven by neo-Nazi …

by Jeff You Suck on Donald Trump Lit the Fuse That Led to Heather Heyer’s Murder (Soapboxer)

Yeah, it wasn't about slavery. It was about States Rights. . It's just a coincidence that the right to own …

by vidvis on The Mayor of New Orleans Explains Why North Carolina’s Monuments to White Supremacy Need to Come Down (Soapboxer)

I've dug and dug and can't figure it out. What's the real reason?

by David Klein on The Mayor of New Orleans Explains Why North Carolina’s Monuments to White Supremacy Need to Come Down (Soapboxer)

If you still believe the Civil War was over slavery then you're a fool and maybe you should dig a …

by Ruckus Dean on The Mayor of New Orleans Explains Why North Carolina’s Monuments to White Supremacy Need to Come Down (Soapboxer)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation