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.


Exclusive: Reporter’s transcript from Toronto’s “storm of the year”

Frank (reporter on the street)  –

John, it’s serious. There’s five centimetres on the ground here. Let me put that in plain terms. 

That’s five centimetres of frozen water plummeting from the sky and colliding with our streets, homes and way of life. I couldn’t have envisioned the horror myself– but, here I am – staring right into this cold, monochromatic canvas of white fury. 

John (studio anchor) –

My god Frank. You said five centimetres? Are you at least safe from where you’re reporting? 

Frank –

I’ve dug out a foxhole for myself here, John, by kicking the snow away from me to create a protective area. 

Like brushing dandruff off one’s shoulder, I’ve secured a clean area on the sidewalk free of any contamination from white flakes.

 John –

That’s good to hear Frank. We want to make sure you get back to us safe. 

Frank –

I’m okay for now. But there’s no telling how long I can keep it at bay.

 John –

Well Frank – while we’ve got you safe – how are people dealing with what surely sounds like the “storm of the year”? 

Frank –

I’ve got Mary with me here, John, who bravely faced this white squall to make sure her family had enough food to survive the storm’s wrath.  

 Mary (pedestrian)–

 That’s very kind, but only a coincidence, Frank. Tuesday’s when I normally go to the grocery store. It’s just a coincidence this weather came up.  

 Frank –

Brave words, Joan. Your courage is inspiring. Now tell me: how are you managing on this darkest of days? 

Joan –

 Great! It’s nice to have some snow coming down – and the kids get a real kick out of it, sledding down the hills.

 Frank –

You’re being incredibly strong, Joan. Is your family safe?

 Joan –

Why, what’s happened?

 Frank (looking directly into camera) –

I think our viewers would like to know that your family is as brave as you – and are safe, waiting for your return during Nature’s onslaught.

 Joan –

Oh no. The girls are out and about, having a snowball fight. I heard one got a bloody nose again from a direct hit in the face. And Gary, my son, was caught sliding behind cars again. So, in his case, I’m gonna make sure he doesn’t feel at all safe.  


Joan, I won’t keep you from your mission any longer. Get home quickly and deliver your groceries to a hungry, and no doubt frightened family, in the clutches of this  ferocious winter monster.

 Joan (looking directly into camera)-

You better be scared, Gary. I’m coming home with consequences!

 Frank –

As you can see John, people are panicked, and worry runs the streets. We can only hope our worry doesn’t consume us like the five centimetre blanket, which we’re all struggling to get out from under.

 John –

 Eloquently put, Frank. Now get out of that terror zone and get back to us safe and sound.

 Frank –

This is Frank Middling reporting for the Weather Network at ground zero of the storm ….nay… cataclysm of the century.