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Entries in Kristen Matteson (2)

Tuesday
Aug282007

English Lesson #10: Nothing To See Here Folks

$8 ice cream, princeless palaces, festival shootings—by Monday there was only one last thing to do in London: we needed to recreate a photo. We checked out of the Thistle, gave our bags to the concierge, got our Starbucks, and hopped aboard the Tube. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the original photo, and what the it doesn’t show is the fact that it was taken at a busy stretch of roadway. Busy or not, standing in the middle of the street is always dangerous. Further complicating things, although we were off the beaten tourist path, we were not the only ones trying recreate this picture. What the girls didn’t understand is that life doesn’t stop just because crazy ham shanks want a photo.

I tried to explain something about English crosswalks to the girls. When there are crosswalks with flashing yellow globe lights on poles on either side of the street and pedestrians are present, motorists are obligated to yield to the pedestrians. I don’t think anyone was listening because suddenly everything got chaotic. Before I could finish my explanation, the girls had stopped some passing tourists and given them about fifty cameras to take our picture with before jetting across the street to the other side. Once on the other side, I remember a lot of clucking and a lot of confusion as we all stood at the edge of the curb. Per the vehicle code, the passing traffic stopped to let us cross. Not wanting anything else in the photo, the girls motioned for the cars to continue. Already we were gaining popularity with passing motorists because, as a motorist myself, I know how much I love stopping for no good reason. Why would these crazy motorists think we wanted to cross the street anyway?

Once the coast was clear, we began crossing. When I say it was clear, I mean there was no traffic for at least 100 feet in either direction, but there was more traffic coming. So now we’re in the middle of the street with cars approaching the crosswalk on a fairly busy street and the girls shout “STOP”.

WHAT!? You can’t stop! This is a crosswalk not a movie set!

Meanwhile, another tourist began crossing. “Nooo! You’re ruining our picture!” one of my posse shouted. I’ll admit now that she was with my party, but at the time I think I just kept walking and pretended not to know her. When we got to the other side (the chicken had it way easier) I got yelled at. Not by the motorists and not by other tourists, but by my party. When I refused to stop in the middle of the street, I broke formation and crossed the street too quickly, effectively ruining the picture. How silly of me. Variations of this went on for the next half hour. When all was said and done, one of the girls commented, “the Beatles must have had someone stop traffic for them”.

I’d say that’s a definite possibility.