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...