Impatient Drivers, Homeless Vendors and Job Anniversary

workIt happened again.  Yep, a driver nearly mowed me down in the pedestrian crosswalk.  I had the light to walk yet this guy gunned his engine and began moving toward me before he jerked his truck and sped through the intersection.  He wasn’t going to be bothered with waiting two minutes for pedestrians to cross.  I don’t understand this really.  Exactly why are people in such a hurry?  I see it all the time with drivers.  They will race in and out of traffic, tailgate – and I mean tailgate so close that they should buy you dinner too and just driving with reckless abandon.  There’s no need to be in a hurry.  Everybody needs to chill and drive calmly.

After nearly getting plowed by the driver, I encountered a street vendor selling magazines.  Now I usually walk past and not give it another thought but today I decided to help out.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of magazine the vendor was selling.  It is called “The Contributor Magazine” and it is a way to help the homeless.  Each vendor pays $2.00 for each magazine and they sell them for $5.00 and keep the profits.  Founded in 2007, The Contributor is a nonprofit, social enterprise in Nashville that was created to provide an earned income opportunity for homeless and formerly homeless individuals.  By doing this, vendors can create community with their customers and gain a restored sense of purpose, pride and dignity.  Now this magazine is a lot better than some other vendors selling newspapers.  They also help the homeless with a place to stay until they can get their life on track.  The particular vendor today told me he had recently gotten out of prison and was trying to get his life back together by selling the magazines.  I don’t mean to sound ornery about this but I had rather help someone like that than give a huge offering at church or to some TV preacher.

Today marks my fourth year working at this office location in Nashville.  I can’t say that I “love” Nashville but it’s not too bad.  I’m still not sure it is home but it is home for now.  When I first started to work here I was told the office was a good old country family.  I think that was a bit of an exaggeration but I have settled in here after taking over for a “legend” in this position.  In fact, on my first day here I was confronted by a few critics who told me point blank that I wouldn’t fill the shoes of the person I was replacing.  That situation bothered me until one day I just threw down the gloves and took control of it.  I do my own things in my own way and I get the job done.  I wasn’t going to live in the shadows of comparison to someone else.  I didn’t replace anyone.  I do my own thing.  Things have been different for me since that day.  After a career that will soon hit 27 years, this will probably be my last stop on this career as I hope to ride out into the sunset from here.

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Driving 101: Navigating Pedestrians

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Another huge problem with driving in and around Nashville is the constant issues with drivers and pedestrians.  We have a lot of tourists and visitors here every week.  I have yelled at many people as a pedestrian myself when I have seen them walk when they aren’t supposed to.  On at least two occasions I have helped someone from being hit by a car.  Even as cautious and obey-by-the-rules guy that I am, I have also had my own close calls was distracted or aggressive drivers.

Here are the rules for dealing with pedestrians:

  • STOP for pedestrians at crosswalks.  Don’t roll through it or try to beat the pedestrian through the crosswalk.
  • Be patient, especially with seniors or pedestrians with disabilities who need more time to cross the road.
  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
  • Yield to pedestrians when turning.  This is one of the most common problems.  Drivers do not want to wait for pedestrians to move safely through the crosswalk when turning.
  • Be especially alert at night.  Not all pedestrians will wear reflective clothing.

Even if pedestrians are not obeying the rules or the signs that are posted, drivers should still yield.  A pedestrian can’t compete in a game of chicken with an automobile.   Pedestrians are SUPPOSED to give the right of way to moving vehicles but it doesn’t always work that way.  If a pedestrian is already in the crosswalk and crossing then a driver must stop.

The main thing for drivers to have when navigating traffic with pedestrians is PATIENCE.  The city is a tourist attraction and there are going to be people downtown.  We all need to factor that into our drive and make sure that we all get to where we are going safely.