Letters to the editor
Objection to recent column
Dear Editor: Just wanted to respond to the long column about traffic laws for pedestrians. I’m a college-educated woman who’s lived in Georgia for 20 years. My husband and I have also lived in New York, Boston and Dallas and have crossed many city streets. We were not aware that a flashing crosswalk signal meant we had to yield to oncoming traffic — we assumed it warned, as a yellow light does, that a change is coming. I’ve never thought if traffic moving in my direction has a red light, I have one. If the pedestrian signal is blinking as I approach, I assume I have to high-tail it across before it changes.
Your columnist was unusually, some might say pathologically, irate. I’m surprised your editorial staff gave him a public venue for his rant. Unable to find the teens to let them know he was right/they were wrong, his ego wouldn’t let him drop it. The resulting column reads like a disorganized journal entry. (Why would any editor let him keep mentioning being frustrated by a de-icing incident at the airport? It was irrelevant to the story and meaningless unless the reader had background. The writer seemed to want to let us know he’s a smart guy with expertise in traffic control. Ego, again.)
But here’s my main complaint: Describing the race of the teens who yelled at him (complete with their small-town-kidsdressing-like-they’re-in-the-’hood attire) was unnecessary and inflammatory. This was not a racial issue or incident. Or, perhaps it was, for your columnist?
If it had been me, a white middle-aged woman, with my two children, who made the same mistake, how would your columnist have responded — in the moment and in his column? Based on my understanding of the crosswalk light, I, too, would have assumed I had the right-of-way and stepped confidently into the street.
If your writer had swerved around me instead of stopping, I would have felt threatened by a motorist in too much of a hurry to let me and my kids get across the street. I also would have felt, as I’m sure the teens did, “dissed.” Angry, I might have yelled something in his direction.
In the two years I’ve been in Covington, I’ve noted how rude drivers (of all races) can be — honking impatiently, yelling out windows — despite the fact this is a fairly small town. A column that could have been a humorous and informative look at small-town traffic or the difficulties pedestrians have crossing the corners in the square, became instead an airing of one white man’s sensitive ego and racist view of the world. And the day before MLK day?
Yuk. There are aspects of the small-town South Covington needs to divest itself of, the sooner the better.
Sincerely, Robin K. Johnson