Crosswalk: /’krôs‘wôk/ (noun) – a marked part of a road where pedestrians have right of way to cross.

People watching: /pepel wäCH,wôCH (noun) – the action or practice of spending time idly observing people in a public place.

Cross-watching: /krôs wäCH,wôCH/ (verb) – idly observing people crossing the street…or looking attentively at something angrily?

One afternoon, on our recent excursion to the coast, between back-breaking body surfing and putt-putt, left me to my own devices. Exhausted from beach-time activities, a curbside table and cool drink at a nearby bar & grill seemed just the ticket. Said table was perched with a clear view of a 3-way street with crosswalks. Each with their own pedestrian buttons, a red hand for stop, a walking guy for go and a timer so you know to hurry the hell up and ensure that entertainment would be provided. So sit back, order a beverage, smoke ’em if you got ’em, and let’s cross-watch for a bit.

Male Dominance (arrogance?) at its finest: Chest out and head held high, a middle-aged man didn’t break stride. As he exited the storefront across the street, crossed over the curb, and stepped obliviously into traffic. His gaze transfixed on the two-story pier/bar across the way. Behind his inflated ego, almost invisible, his petite wife and 3 preteen daughters looked about terrified. Achieving the curb, he turned and stepped into the adjoining roadway without missing a beat. His wife was close behind. Perhaps thinking his bulk would shield her from impact and teach him a lesson? The daughters lingered, looking back as a young boy, the 6th family member, exited the store looking lost. The girls mimicked the red hand to him, and then hurried him across to join them so they could safely catch up to their… parents? Sorry but this seems rather rubbish parenting. To give mom credit, she waited for the kids to catch up. By now “dad” was already on the second flight of stairs leading up the bar with no sign of pause.

Grandma got run over by a dually (well almost): Despite protests of “Grandma wait!” a squat little grey-haired lady stepped right out into the 10 foot gap made between two dually trucks as they rounded the curb. The two teenage girls accompanying her followed her warily and worriedly; as they tried to prevent her from stepping blindly into the oncoming lane. Luckily, the oncoming golf cart was able to brake in time. To which grandma slowed her pace just to prove she had the right-of-way, much to the girl’s chagrin.

Drinking and… walking is just as dangerous: Sunburned, bikini topped, with an abundance of shopping bags and notably intoxicated, a gaggle of gals approached the curb across the way. Looking to be in their late 20s or early 30s, they were old enough to know better but still too drunk to care. Talking, giggling, and ignoring the crosswalk signs, they stepped onto the street. Seconds later they froze like deer in headlights as a very large, very loud truck screeched to a halt before striking them. Sobered a bit by this, they then hurried across the street.

You’re never too young: Experience is the best teacher, but not always the best scenario. As two parents, with two preschoolers and a toddler in tow (via stroller) found out as they reached the crosswalk. It was obviously the kids’ first time at the beach, as well as their first time crossing a street. Kudos to dad and mom both as they yanked their kids back onto the safety of the curb and explained the process. This, to the kid’s delight, incorporated button pressing… which they did… multiple times… traffic got a little backed up.

Pedestrians have the right of way (in most states). In general; vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at plainly marked crosswalks and at intersections where stop signs or flashing red signals are in place. But is it worth blindly and arrogantly exercising that right at the risk of bodily injury or death?

Yes, legally it is within your rights to cross the road, without a care in the world, but what about morally? When you’re behind the wheel don’t you wish the consideration and courtesy went both ways? Always bear in mind- the people behind the wheel are pedestrians too.

I welcome almost all questions and comments via the Focus, or E-mail me at [email protected]. Hope to hear from ya until then try and stay focused. See ya.