Thursday, September 9, 2010

a city full of killers

Perhaps it's my small town, Minnesotan upbringing, but there are certain things I learned growing up that it seems most people on the East Coast (and specifically here in DC) did not. Mainly, I learned not to murder people. And sure, I mean that in the sense that I won't come at you with a weapon (unless, of course, you try to steal my lutefisk), but I also mean that in the more passive sense. That is, if I'm riding a bike/driving/walking about and I hear a siren and/or see an ambulance/fire truck/police car, I automatically get the hell out of the way. To me, letting that wailing ambulance through the intersection so it can save a life is more important than my getting to Whole Foods to purchase ingredients to make my goddamn dinner of hot dish and jello salad.

However, to what seems like the majority of people in DC, they say, "F*ck your life. Nobody comes between me and my Calvins sorely outdated references groceries."

I'm telling you, I see this all the time, mostly with drivers who seem to think it's OK to chill in the intersection whilst they watch their green light turn yellow then red. Not only does this kind of action just tie up traffic for others and make it much more annoying and dangerous to be a cyclist or pedestrian, but I contend this behavior actually kills people.

Take for instance a situation I peeped last week in the late afternoon. I was biking east on P Street approaching the 16th Street intersection when I heard increasingly loud sirens. I pulled to the curb and looked behind me to see an ECNALUBMA approaching. Now, despite my lack of rear-view mirror, I figured out quite easily that it was an ambulance and, most likely, either it had someone who needed medical attention already in it or it was going to give medical attention to someone who really needed it. Thus, I ceased cycling further and waited for it to safely pass. For 10 minutes. That's right, it took 10 minutes for an emergency response vehicle to pass through an intersection due to the two assholes who were blocking it because they just had to make that light.

Really, it's a ridiculous practice in the first place to pull into an intersection under any circumstances when you think the light's about to change, but when you do so fully knowing an ambulance is approaching, you're not just stupid now, you're a murderer. Seriously, as far as I know those two dicks sitting in the intersection at 16th and P the other day killed someone. When people call 9-1-1 for an ambulance, it usually means they need help immediately. While it may be annoying for you to extend your commute a few minutes in your air-conditioned SUV, to the person losing consciousness down the block, it may be a matter of life and death.

And to prove this wasn't just an isolated event, I saw a similar thing happen on Monday afternoon at the corner of 7th and E. There I was, enjoying a refreshing bowl of ajo blanco soup at Jaleo (sidenote: YUM), when some dick had to ruin it for me by reminding me what city I was in. Instead of an ambulance, however, this time it was a firetruck whose path was interrupted. As it was entering the intersection going east on E, some retard in his GTO or whatever decided to zoom through going north on 7th. The firetruck (and this was one of the full-sized ones with a freaking ladder on the top) had to literally slam on its brakes to avoid a 90˚-angle collision, which probably would've put the driver of the GTO in such critical condition that an ambulance would've needed to arrive to the scene within minutes to save him. And while the irony of that scenario seems almost too good to pass up (inevitably the ambulance would've gotten held up by some other asshole in a narcissistic rush), since I'm not a Tea Partier murderer, I would never wish death -- let alone harm -- on anyone, no matter how stupid.

But trust me, there are easier ways to learn lessons than the hardest way possible. People just need to think. Everyone's actions affect other people. Whether it's someone's gum-smacking on the Metro that's causing people to be mildly annoyed or another's complete lack of road etiquette that's causing people to literally die, all these problems can be solved if people just thought before they acted. Really, adults of DC (and those who commute in and out for work), stop it. Just stop it. And eat more lefse. It makes people friendlier.


Anonymous said...

...I've driven in DC and their commuters are the most low down, self centered sad arses outside of mogidishu.

...oh wait - nevermind the mogidishu reference.

Patty Duke said...

Where are these yahoos going in rush hour traffic, except to another traffic light?

Anonymous said...

To be totally honest the majority of people that drive in DC do not live in DC. You could brandish such a statement approx.four years ago and you might be right but now 75% per of the people that are on the road are from VA, MD, WV...etc... So the "F your life", reference is inaccurate check the License plates of the drivers causing all the problems next time before you make such a blanket statement...People try to speak bad about the District but as a transplant myself I have to say enough!!!

Anonymous said...

Just so you are aware 95% of these so called emergencies aren't really emergencies at all and in DC the ambulances and fire trucks run lights and sirens to everything... in other parts of the country they go with a silent responses to the drunk passed out at the corner of North Capitol and New York Ave. NW or the homeless person sleeping on the bench at Florida Ave and North Capitol St. Only for the ambulance to get there and wake them up only to get cussed out by the homeless cronies... Needless to say you should remember this... Every 9 out of 10 times that you see an ambulance in this great city they are just responding up 7th st to another homeless man down with a life status of questionable and the drunk who drank to many 40z or the woman who stubbed her toe and so desperately needs to go to the ER and waste more of YOUR TAX DOLLARS!!!!!!

Victor9000 said...

Wow. I can't believe anonymous [6:23 edition] is defending cutting off ambulances because there may be a homeless person inside. The logic is impeccable.
It's the same reason I don't slow down for people with walkers, because they might be faking it.

Debbi said...

Thank you for this awesome post. My retired DC firefighter husband will love it.

Marissa said...

anonymous 5:45--

Of course VA and MD drivers are to blame, as well, which is why I think I said drivers IN the city rather than FROM the city. I probably didn't make that as clear as it could've been, which is my fault. Hope this clears things up.

anonymous 6:23--

Uh, yeah. So I agree with Victor9000. While maybe not every siren is a life or death emergency, at least a few probably are. Please, just think about that. Five minutes of your time isn't really as important as someone else's whole life, right?

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