Monday, April 16, 2012

Don’t Keep Pushing The Button

Ask people if they believe in fairies and they just laugh.

Ask them if they believe in Father Christmas and they show you their credit card bills with a sour look on their faces.

And yet worldwide belief in various urban myths still persists.

I have seen it with my own eyes this very afternoon.

I think you all know the one I’m referring to. The one that says repeatedly pushing the button on a Pelican Crossing will make the green man appear quicker because some kind of magic device exists inside it that counts how many times the button is pressed and then exponentially curtails the time the traffic has to enjoy its right of way on the road.

I saw a girl giving the pelican crossing the ol’ frenzied single-finger-jab when I nipped home at lunchtime today. Not once. Not twice. But for literally 40+ times this paragon of patience pressed the button. Click-click-click-click-click. Like a nervous tick. Like a machine gun firing on empty. Like Alan Cummings pressing that bloody biro on and off at the end of that crappy James Bond film with Pierced Bozo in it. Goldmember. Japeye. Golden Dawn. Or whatever it was called.

Normally I keep myself to myself. Normally I don’t get involved. But today I had to curtail an overwhelming urge to point out to her that pressing the button with such repeated ferocity would have no positive effect whatsoever.

It’s like pressing CTRL-ALT-Delete on a computer. You can press it as many times as you like but the CPU logs one request only and then eventually acts on it.

Actually, I don’t know if that’s true or not but it sounds good.

You press the button and the automated traffic control thingie then factors in a single pedestrian crossing instance in that particular traffic cycle. The traffic cycle remains as long as it usually is. It won’t be hurried. It won’t be harassed. It won’t be bullied. It can’t be persuaded to stop all traffic instantly and allow you to strut across the road like the king of the walk. Neither can it be pressured into extending the length of the pedestrian crossing instance. You gets your go and that’s it.

The priority at the end of the day is to keep the traffic flowing.

Pedestrians are second-class citizens. The green man is not in love with you. He works for the car people and the car people alone.

Or am I wrong? Am I being far too pragmatic about this? Have I missed a trick in my Green Cross Code atheism?

Is there indeed a little leprechaun inside the pelican crossing who’ll stop the traffic for you if he likes the look of your face / arse / Uggs? Is that why I’m always left waiting for ages for the green man to appear?

If that’s the case I may have to write to the Easter Bunny to complain...



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24 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Technology is a bugger, isn't it? What pedestrians really need is lolly-pop ladies and lolly-pop men. I'm sure you'd be a particularly effective one, luring frustrated motorists away from the innocent so they can mow down the bearded pillock.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: isn't roadrage another way of saying that someone has "gone ape"?

John Gray said...

PRESSING BUTTONS ( like mad) IS JUST THAT psychological need to fill time.....and space!
you should have slapped her!!!!!!!!(that would have filled YOUR psychological need!)

Steve said...

John: you are, of course, right but, unlike pressing buttons like mad, slapping someone in the street will get you arrested (no matter how enjoyable it is).

Kelloggsville said...

how many times can I press the button to the point just before you want to slap me? because I plan to do that number everytime from now on.

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: 37. Though if you say "beep" in a high pitched voice each time you do it that number drops to 23.

Being Me said...

And how are you with people holding a finger right up to the side of your face and saying "But I'm not touching you... but I'm not touching you" in answer to every request from you to stop? Cuz I'm super-good at that one. Just ask my little brother.

Hannah Denski said...

Oh, I've pressed some buttons in my time... I seem particularly good at pressing ' wrong' ones... All I can say is 'sorry'... Truly unintentional! : )

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

I'm the modern equivalent of a lollypop lady - every Monday morning - I've got traffic cones (without flowers) and some blinky ligts further down the road. People slow down and stop when I don't want them to! I can only cross the children when the coast is clear, so everyone who slows down makes the process longer and when they stop with a trail of logging trucks and too-late-for work commuters behind them I have to resist shouting something rude.

Katriina said...

When I worked in high-rise buildings in Tokyo, the frenzied lift-button-jabbing would drive me crazy. It was great when our company moved to a brand-spanking-new building, equipped with the smartest lifts I've ever come across. One press of the right button got you to your floor. A second press "unclicked" and cancelled your floor request. Serial jabbers, BWAHAHAHA!

TimeWarden said...

Perhaps if the girl in question had flashed her "Uggs" at the little fella, he might've turned green with envy more quickly!

Steve said...

Being Me: aaaargh! I can feel my blood boiling already! ;-)

Hannah: I have to say, pressing the wrong buttons is sometimes the most fun a person can have for free these days.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: you are plainly a secret superheroine - Lollipop Lady. The woman who can stop traffic.

Katriina: the revenge of the button! That is very funny. I like the idea of someone frenziedly jabbing the button and finding the lift not moving a single inch.

TimeWarden: she did, I have to say, have a fine pair of Uggs. My finger would have much preferred to press them rather than the pelican crossing button...!

Suburbia said...

Does this mean I just press once from now on then?
;)

Steve said...

Suburbia: yes. This is a lesson that will stand you well in all circumstances of life: just press once.

Nota Bene said...

Now hear this. When The Boy was younger (half my height as opposed to 1.2 x my height) he pointed out that under some Pelican Crossing controls is a little knob which turns and turns and that if you turned it faster with your fingers, the wait would be shorter. So forget finding the button, twiddle the knob it will make the whole experience that much quicker.

Go on...I know you are now going to check on every crossing you come to....

Steve said...

Nota Bene: such a dilemma. Push the button or twiddle the nob? A conundrum that has bedazzled man since the dawn of homo sapiens...

Anonymous said...

hi please pm me, i lost your details
bearty

Marginalia said...

Good on you. These people need to be taught a lesson! Excess button pushing has been shown to be bad for ones health. In tests people who push buttons, especially pelican buttons, get run over 5% more than people in wheel cahirs and on stilts. Facts that speak for themselves.

I've formed an ALT/CONT/DEL Group in the neighbourhood. You're just the sort of person we need.

Power to all our friends!

Steve said...

Bearty? Is that you, Wooster?

Marginalia: now you're pushing all the right buttons.

Owen said...

The streets are full of lunatics ! That's why I work in the straightjacket business, excellent job security ! :-)

the fly in the web said...

We don't have Pelican Crossings...except on the coast where the pelicans cross where they want.
And no, I am not jabbing my finger into a pelican...not with those beaks...

Steve said...

Owen: the offices aren't much better either!

The fly in the web: regarding the comment from Nota Bene... do they have nobs that can be twiddled?

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I am so a button pusher, pedestrian crossings, lifts, keyboards - you name. Pure impatience is to blame.

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: there is, my dear, nothing pure about impatience...! ;-)