The other day I was driving my car and I saw this lady at the corner. She didn’t have the light so she put down her grocery bags and walked to the pole at the intersection. And then she started pushing that button, the one that I forgot was even there, it says, “Push here and wait for green light.” Not just once, she kept pushing it, over and over again, I imagined her saying in her head, green light, every time she pushed, green light, green light, green light …
I don’t know why, I couldn’t stand watching her do it, I know I should have just minded my own business but something about that push, push, push, I rolled down my window, “Hey lady! What the hell are you doing? You really think that button’s connected to anything? You really think the light’s going to change faster because you’re standing there pushing it again and again?”
And she looked at me, she was definitely pissed off. I shouldn’t have said anything, it was totally pointless. And I wanted to say so much more, I wanted her to respond, to tell me that it does work, that I should mind my own business, and then I would have kept going, I would have been like, oh yeah? Well why do you keep pushing it then? Shouldn’t you just have to push it the one time? What do you think, it’s a button designed to speed up the changing from red to green based on how many times it’s pressed?
She was just staring at me, still pressing the button at the same frequency, but not paying attention to the light, it changed to green, she ignored it, she was locked on me. I felt kind of bad, but I didn’t want to let her know, I was hoping that she’d maintain eye contact long enough for the light to change again from green to red, and then I could really point out to her the futility of pressing the button.
So I engaged her a little more, this time in a more contrite tone of voice, again, I was feeling bad, she reminded me of my grandmother. Not my grandmother exactly, but somebody’s grandmother. She was old. And I thought back to how I started the conversation, well, it wasn’t a conversation, not yet, she hadn’t said anything back yet, although I could tell she was trying to communicate something with her eyes, but man, finally I was like, “What the hell lady?” I didn’t really need to say hell, that was a little harsh, I wouldn’t have said hell to my grandmother.
So I started again, “Excuse me, ma’am, but you can’t really think that that button is actually connected to anything, can you? I mean, it doesn’t do anything. All of the lights in this city are timed out, like a grid, it’s all measured out in even intervals, to help traffic maintain as good of a flow as possible. And again, I’m sorry I said hell before, but I just hate to see you standing there, pushing it over and over again, and why push it so many times? When you’re at home watching TV, how many times do you push the on button? That’s not really the same, I get it, like with the TV you’re getting an instant result, whereas here … well just imagine if that remote didn’t have any batteries, and you stood there pointing it at the TV, click, click, click, nothing, how long would you keep that up?”
All the while, the light hadn’t changed back to red, I couldn’t believe it, it was actually taking forever, and the lady was still just staring at me, totally giving me the stink eye, so, whatever, I told her, “You know what? I’m sorry lady, just, be careful with your groceries on the floor, someone might knock them over.” And I rolled up my window.
But I couldn’t go anywhere because the light in front of me was stuck on red. One minute, two minutes went by, this thing wasn’t changing. And then I realized why. It was the lady. She was still clicking that button, click, click, click. It must have actually been connected, and her constant pressing was keeping the light green, for her. For me it was red. I was stuck.
I rolled down the window, “Hello? Hi, hello,” she was still just staring at me, unwavering, “Yeah, look, I feel really bad, and I’m actually thinking that maybe that button does work, and listen, I feel really terrible, coming at you like that, berating you, you’re clearly in the right here, I think the button does work, obviously it works, that light hasn’t changed in a while now. Anyway, you’ve proved your point, and I’d just like to … I’m sorry again, I’d really like to … yeah, so.”
But she didn’t stop. Now I was getting pissed again. But what was I going to do, knock her groceries over? Force her to stop pushing the button? I looked left and right, making sure no other cars were coming, and I inched into the intersection. Immediately I saw the red and blue lights behind me, a cop car perfectly hidden from view, watching me run the light.
“Officer, I’m really sorry, but that lady, she kept pushing the button, the light wouldn’t change. And I was going really slow, come on, I’m sorry.”
And the officer was like, “What are you stupid? Those buttons aren’t connected to anything. Nice try pal, now hand over your license and registration.”
But that lady, I turned around, she was gone, no lady, no bag of groceries, nothing. What was she, a ghost? Was this like some sort of a haunted intersection? Am I really going to have to go down to City Hall to fight this ticket? Because there’s no way that the judge is going to believe any of this. I guess I could just hope that the officer never shows up, and I could just make up some other story. Or maybe a reduced fine, something. I’m telling you, I know it sounds crazy, but she had to have been a ghost, because how else can you explain any of this stuff?