OPINION: Applying the ‘crosswalk rule’ in every day life

I saw something interesting -- and a little concerning -- one morning driving the school bus a while back. Near the northwest corner of the Siloam Springs Middle School campus, a student approached a crosswalk, pushed the button to activate the crosswalk warning signal and then stepped out onto the street...directly in front of an oncoming car going 35 miles an hour.

The car locked up the brakes and came to a stop about 3 feet from the student, who seemed surprised that the driver ignored the crosswalk signal. He jumped back another three feet, then shook his head and continued across the street to the campus. The car continued up the street, a whole lot slower than it had been going before.

And Siloam Springs came within three feet of being in the news, and definitely not in a good way.

As I drove away from the crosswalk up Holly Street, the teacher in me wanted to spend some time with the young man and explain a few of the more painful facts of life, in hopes that he would live longer and maybe avoid additional difficulties on down the road, so to speak.

First, I would tell him that sometimes people fail to stop at crosswalks or stop signs or red lights. Those people may be distracted or talking on cell phones or daydreaming. Or, and this is a troubling thought, it might be that they just don't care. Whatever the reason, it happens every day. And the results are often tragic.

Second, I would tell him that when you step in front of a moving vehicle without making eye contact with the driver, you are literally putting your life in the hands of another person. A person who may be distracted or talking on a cell phone or daydreaming. Or -- again a troubling thought -- a person who just doesn't care.

Finally, I would tell him that he should apply the "crosswalk rule" to every other aspect of his life. That occasionally he is going to interact with people who are distracted or talking on a cell phone or daydreaming. Or, heaven forbid, who just don't care. And when that happens, he's going to have to make eye contact with them and determine if continuing to interact with them presents a danger to himself, either emotionally, psychologically or physically.

I know that seems overly dramatic, but let me offer an example. My wife loves crime docudramas. So, naturally, I get to see a lot of crime docudramas. Very often one of these shows features a young man or woman who gets into a relationship with another person who has enough "red flags" to supply an entire May Day parade in Moscow. And, invariably it seems, the young man or woman who gets involved in a "red flag" relationship ends up regretting it, very often tragically so. And it's generally because someone ignored the "crosswalk rule."

It's a shame. And it happens every day.

"When a wise person sees danger ahead, he avoids it. But a foolish person keeps going and gets into trouble." – Proverbs 27:12 (ICB)

Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and is currently a large-vehicle transportation specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (Okay, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenance technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are those of the author.