I’ve found that approaching a crosswalk in Ottawa at the same time a car arrives usually leads to a collision of awkwardness.
“No, please you first”, I start off, waving my hand at the driver as if brushing crumbs from a table.
“No, no. You go ahead. Really. It would make me feel a lot better,”, the car driver replies, which is conveyed with a wave of their hand, and maybe a smile.
“Here we go,” – I say to myself, wishing I could roll my eyes, but then that would be impolite.
Instead I shake my head at them with the sternness of a pitcher waving off an inside fastball his catcher has just asked him to throw to a hitter who had previously cranked two identical pitches foul.
This I combine with a sharp wave of my hand. Two quick gestures this time, as if I’m a cat really interested in a jingly piece of plastic my owner has given me.
But I keep going.
I want to make it clear to this driver that I want them to get everything they want in life, starting with this crosswalk.
So, I throw out an open hand gesture. Wide open.
“The road is yours, your majesty.” I try to convey outwardly.
Internally, I’m losing my grasp: “Please for fuckssake go.”
But this is not enough. In most cases, the driver cannot abide that their piece of metal move ahead of flesh and blood.
They come back at me resigned, both hands off the wheel, smiling knowingly:
“Look. I could kill you with this thing. Please recognize that I’m holding back it’s potential to take your life as a gesture that I would very much like you to go ahead of me. Now. GO”.
I give up.
I hurry between the two white lines at the crosswalk, raising my hand a final time to acknowledge my surrender to the driver.
On the other side of the street now, I regather my pace and head toward the next crosswalk, the next driver, and the next standstill.