The dance of the ze­bra cross­ing

Watch­ing the ar­ray of cars flash by, Alan Carl­ton feels the power of the pedes­trian

Mercury (Hobart) - - TALKING POINT - Tas­ma­nian Alan Carl­ton is a re­tired den­tist who runs, plays tennis and gar­dens.

I TAKE a cou­ple of steps to cross the road. I then see a car turn­ing the cor­ner and com­ing towards me so I abruptly stop. At the same time as I see the car and stop, the car sees me and stops. Both I and the car are still. We are both mo­tion­less. We wait for each other to move.

Well if the car is not go­ing to go then I will. I start to cross the road. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously the car de­cides it’s time to drive for­ward. We both move towards each other. And then we si­mul­ta­ne­ously stop again. We are mir­ror­ing each other. I now look at the driver. Try­ing to de­cide what is the next step in our dance. The next step is to share a laugh.

I con­tinue my walk along­side a ma­jor ar­te­rial road. Cease­less streams of cars. An end­less noise con­stantly chang­ing. Trucks pro­vide a throb­bing, deep, bass sound. Mo­tor­bikes pro­vide a shriller, sharper sound.

The never-end­ing steam of cars per­se­veres. It keeps on ap­pear­ing from nowhere and giv­ing me views of the very for­tu­nate driv­ers. The driv­ers are all fit and healthy. They can all con­trol the car by mov­ing their bod­ies. They can all see the road and the other cars and hope­fully me.

Some­body has gone to the trou­ble of teach­ing them how to drive. Some­body has be­come frus­trated sit­ting next to them point­ing out the ob­vi­ous.

The driv­ers are all driv­ing in a car which cost money. Most of them have jobs and have saved up to buy the best car. Which is nor­mally a dif­fer­ent car from the next driver.

The driv­ers are all watch­ing the other cars and obey­ing all the rules. They are all driv­ing on safe roads main­tained by the flu­o­res­cent brigade lean­ing on their shov­els.

And I see one guy driv­ing and sit­ting next to a furry com­pan­ion. The cu­ri­ous dog sits un­der a seat­belt and peers around. That guy looks very happy.

I squint for a closer look at the next car as it flashes by. Dan­gling, swing­ing ob­jects hang from the mir­ror. The car is a blank can­vas which has been dec­o­rated. And the fi­nal work of art is dis­played for ev­ery­body to en­joy.

And next car is a pol­ished, gleam­ing car show­ing pride. With mag wheels and very thick tyres. This gleam­ing, shiny car is not stained with stick­ers.

Un­like this car. A doll on the dashboard, flags from the ae­rial and bumper stick­ers. Telling ev­ery­body what footy team is the best.

And now a car with cush­ions. Soft in­dul­gent cush­ions ly­ing un­used in front of the back win­dow. They are very use­ful for mak­ing the driver happy.

I then hear mu­sic pump­ing, thump­ing and caus­ing a car to rock and roll. The driver and pas­sen­ger both sing along.

And I see a lucky guy who owns more than a car. He owns a mo­bile phone and he sits in his bal­loon of si­lence and talks to peo­ple he’s do­ing busi­ness with. He doesn’t have to search for a pub­lic phone. He doesn’t have to hunt for petty cash. He can set­tle and solve the is­sue now. He can save him­self time. To­day he can be more pro­duc­tive. He is mak­ing the econ­omy and us all richer.

Time for me to re-cross the road. All the cars obey the traf­fic lights and stop when told.

All of the driv­ers are very for­tu­nate. They live in a pros­per­ous coun­try. They live at a time when they can af­ford to buy a car. They can paint it their favourite colour. They can dec­o­rate the car. They can fill it with cush­ions. They all drive care­fully and con­sider the driv­ers next to them. And next to them is an­other driver obey­ing all the road rules. They are driv­ing on a road de­void of pot­holes. They can con­duct busi­ness at the same time.

The driv­ers are all wait­ing for me to cross the road. They are all very for­tu­nate and very lucky. Ex­cept for one thing. They have to sit and fid­dle with their steer­ing wheel and watch me dance across the road.

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