The Albany Walking Suicide Brigade

Today is Friday, the day I write about The Issues.  Today’s issue is: pedestrians are dumb.  I live in New York, in an armpit of a city called “Albany”.  You may have been taught that Albany is the capital of New York, but it is not.  The Governor has fled Albany in favor of New York City.  I drive past his mansion frequently and he is never there.  The reason the Governor has fled is that Albany is home to many stupid pedestrians.

Most people are taught at a young age that they need to look both ways before crossing the street.  Even though cars are expected to be in control at all times and avoid all threats to people and property, they still have “right-of-mass”, so you make sure none are going to hit you while you borrow their street.  Sometimes there are slight variants on that advice.  When I lived in North Dakota, I’d not only look both ways while crossing at an intersection, but I’d also look for ice, because a car intending to stop at a red light might not be able to.  Albany, New York seems to have its own slight variation on crossing-the-street advice which goes something like: launch yourself into traffic until you are in the middle of the only lane, and only then do you turn and glare at whoever it is that dared to squeal their breaks at you while invading your personal space.

I don’t get it.  It’s like they have a death wish.  I actually think a lot of people in Albany want to die.  While driving in downtown Albany, folks will dart out into traffic and only then wonder if a ton of metal is about to hit them at about 40 mph.  Folks are just flinging themselves at the hood of my car.  They are sneaky about it, too.  Albany is a big fan of parallel parking, so what the pedestrians do to increase their likelihood of being hit is jump out from behind a great big van so drivers have no warning that a pedestrian is trying to commit suicide by car.  It happens at least three times per trip I take into downtown (a drive lasting only fifteen minutes [1 suicide attempt per 5 minutes]).  I wish that I could get across to you that this figure is not an exaggeration.  I sometimes think it is like the M. Night Shyamalan movie “The Happening”, where millions of movie goers wanted to commit suicide in mass because Shyamalan makes terrible movies.

The folks here in Albany are also passing it down to the next generation.  I was driving down the road, on the verge of a heart attack because killing someone is something I honestly worry about while driving in Albany, when a little girl literally leapt in front of my car.  Literally.  Not figuratively-but-I-want-to-give-it-more-credit-so-I’m-using-the-wrong-word-like-a-moron. I mean literally.  One leg outstretched fully in front of her, one fully outstretched behind her.  Her arms matched in a parallel kind of beauty that would make for a great final pose before being mangled beyond recognition.  I was going 35 mph (10 below the speed limit) when this darling little lemming leapt in front of my car.  I didn’t see her because she was small, and had picked a nice little blind spot behind a parked car to be her diving board into the afterlife.  I slammed on the breaks and smashed my fist onto my horn.  The little idiot landed and turned to see a car screech to a halt two feet from her.  She screamed and almost fell backwards from the shock of almost being made into road kill.  I’m pretty sure she peed herself.  I know I did.

This is when I lost hope, dear reader.  The girl was an idiot, sure, but all children are.  It was her mother that drove me over the edge.  This lady starts to yell at me for almost smashing her stupid child.  She launched into a tirade of verbal assaults against me that made me think I should pack up the child with me in my car and just drive straight off to social services.  “Why you honkin’ at my baby?”

“Why haven’t you taught your daughter to not play in the street?  She jumped in front of my car, and any parent worth their weight would be explaining to their kid that the street is dangerous, not yelling at the person who is actually looking out for your kid!”

“Ain’t none yo’ business how I raise my kids!”

At this point I was evaluating whether or not my car could hop the curb so I could run this mother over.  Not out of malice, mind you, this was in the best interest of the child.  Second degree murder was a sacrifice I was willing to make on the little girl’s behalf, as well as her siblings.  Besides, this is New York, no jury would ever convict me.  A jury of my peers would just shrug their shoulders and say “What did she expect?  She lived in Albany.  She was going to get run over sooner or later.”

My wife has had a similar experience, only in her case it was a kid on a bicycle that careened into traffic right in front of her.  The mother was right there with the excuse “He’s just learning”.  I’m not sure why this mother thinks that lessons are best learned in the hospital.  Maybe it’s because she is from Albany and she wants to die and she wants her kids to die because all of their friends have already died from being run over.  I don’t want anyone to die, but dear reader, these folks are wearing me down.

I think it is the glare that gets to me the most.  Pedestrians here have a glare they use when they see you screeching to a halt.  Sometimes it is a tough look that says “What are you going to do about it?  That’s right, nothing!”  Sometimes it is a dead-eyed thousand yard stare where I can’t tell if they see me at all or if they are silently pleading for this driver to have the courage it takes to end their suffering.  With so many people wanting to be run over, I’m surprised that someone hasn’t cracked under the pressure already.  It would only take one fed up road-rager who decided to once and for all grant everyone in Albany their death wish.  Someone could easily run over at least one hundred people in one night while still following all of the traffic laws including speed limits, stop signs, using turn signals, and staying in their lane.  Albany, New York is the reason why automated cars will never work, because an automated car would follow all of the laws and still manage to murder half the population.

This brings me to my next point: drivers in Albany, New York are the worst drivers I have ever seen in my life.  This could be a post all on its own so I won’t go into detail here.  I have lived in Iowa, Colorado, North Dakota, and Texas.  I have roadtripped through nearly every state in the nation.  Albany, New York has the worst drivers. (Los Angles comes in second).  Firstly, their brake pads are all worn thin from slamming on them to avoid hitting pedestrians.  Secondly, they don’t seem to know any traffic laws at all.  Thirdly, I’m convinced none of them can see over the hood of their cars because painted lines on the road mean nothing to them.  Fourthly, they seem to be under the impression that either the accelerator or the brake must be fully applied.  The list could go on and on, including the special U-turn that I’ve dubbed “The Albany” which will take you across 4 lanes of traffic, two of which are oncoming traffic, and it’ll usually involve an intersection.  These drivers are the people that these pedestrians are leaping out in front of.  There is only one conclusion:

Pedestrians in Albany want to die.

It may be time for Albany to adopt a law from Sarasota, Florida, where it is a $78 fine for hitting a pedestrian.

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