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A Little Cross

So they put in this new Walk sign on our crosswalk.  To explain, our company lunchroom, which many refer to as Panera Bread, is across Montauk Highway from us and we must, perforce, cross this major road for food at regular intervals.  We have had the standard Walk/Don’t Walk sign with the usual idiot button for years.  Now the powers that be have replaced it.

The first thing that happens is that, when you tap the flat arrow button, a disembodied voice shouts at you to “Wait!”

No, really.  It shouts.

Then, as you wait for the light to change, it keeps shouting – ordering – “Wait!” at about ten-second intervals.  This is a “slow” light, so this shouting can go on for some time.

Finally, when the light changes and the sign turns to “Walk” (or is it an icon – can’t remember), the voice says something about crossing Montauk Highway, by name, but exactly what it says is difficult to know because you are already halfway across by the time it finishes it’s sentence.  Meanwhile, a steady beeping is coming from the opposite side of the road – to keep you focused, I suppose.  There may be a countdown timer running too, but the road is really too busy for me to watch anything but traffic; just because the thing *says* it is safe to cross does not mean that it is.

Okay, I suppose the device was put in for the multitudes of blind people known to inhabit Hampton Bays and needing access to Panera Bread, but whatever highway department is responsible must think these blind people are all deaf as well.  It is loud and distracting, which is the very last thing you should want in a culture that sees traffic lights and lane markings as challenges.

I, for one, resolve never to use this loud, electronic pip-squeak again.  It will be safer for me to cross the street if I can focus on whatever it is my fellow citizens are actually doing, versus what they should be doing.  There is probably some traffic engineer, somewhere, who thinks he is saving lives with this thing.  Like most engineers, he is really just pissing people off.


Categories: Pet Peeves, Technology
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