December 19, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 51

Dr. Wes

It’s the season of giving, so I’m giving some serious thoughts to gifts our city should give

By Dr. Wes Browning

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I’m thinking what I want to do this week is write an exhortation. I hardly ever write exhortations, but it feels like something I ought to try to do.

I know the very thought of me exhorting strikes fear in the thoughts of many people. My co-workers here at Real Change would likely run away if they knew I was about to exhort them. Or they would use up one of their free “Shut up, Wes” tickets.

The fear is understandable. There’s no telling which direction the crazy ball will bounce, so to speak. People who don’t run will brace themselves. They will prepare to say, “No, we will not pull your finger.”

I’m not in that kind of mood. I’m actually feeling mildly happy for a change and want to share my rare good mood. While asking that you all help me feel happier. I want to exhort you all to make me, © Dr. Wes Browning, happier yet.

I’m mainly happy because the city is getting a new broadband network, which is starting out in a few selected neighborhoods next year. I don’t really know what that means, and I don’t live in one of the selected neighborhoods, but I think it means the air up the hill from me will be filled with magical fairy dust by this time next year, and it will put a lilt in my steps. I need a lilt in my steps.

What could possibly make me happier than miles and miles of fiber optics and a decent Wi-Fi network in this city? Well, one thing that would lift my spirits and get me moving out the door would be to feel like I can safely walk six blocks in this city without being run over by a car.

I get around almost entirely on foot, and just in the past two months I’ve experienced at least four brushes with death as cars narrowly missed me. The cars were driven by ninnies who weren’t looking in the direction they were driving. In one case the driver was looking directly ahead at me, but the cell phone to her ear, must have shut down her optic nerves considerably, as she only stopped short of hitting me by a foot.

Back in my day, when I was young, when lettuce was crisp and a tomato tasted like a tomato, cars were not supposed to hit people. In fact it was often said in the 1950s that in Seattle it was always the driver’s fault if a pedestrian was hit, and that was the Law.

Now, I know for a fact that it was not really true that every time a car hit a pedestrian the driver was charged. For example my Aunt Gidzilla (not her real name) struck and killed a pedestrian while driving herself and some neighbors home from church once. She did not get charged for vehicular homicide, even though the death was a direct result of the fact that she was too busy blathering to know which way the Pontiac was pointed.

The fact was, she was ashamed of herself. And the judge accepted that, because that was the way things were. The real Law of Seattle was if you ran over a pedestrian you knew it was your fault, because you were the one operating the two tons of lurching metal.

Please, Seattle, make me happy by returning to that sense of moral responsibility. I’m not really even asking that you don’t run me over. Just hate yourselves when you do.

Pedestrians include children, the blind and the disabled. Drivers don’t have the right to assume that everyone on the street has 20/20 vision or is able to jump out of the way if they aim badly.

I would specifically ask that the Seattle Times not make any more issue of pedestrians not paying sufficient attention to cars. Here is my special exhortation about that just for the Seattle Times: Shut up.

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