Whenever my husband and I walk around the city, we bear witness to any number of “close calls” – cars almost hitting other cars or pedestrians, pedestrians balancing so close to the edge of the sidewalk they almost get hit by passing buses, motorcycles risking dangerous maneuvers, etc.. It seems that even if a pedestrian has the right of way here, all bets are off, especially when it comes to taxis. Cross the street at your own peril – and many pedestrians often do. It is the only way to get anywhere in the city. Walking in the city wasn’t totally virgin territory to me, I did go to high school in the middle of downtown
So even though I was used to walking in city traffic, I was definitely not prepared for walking in Greek cities. At first I was a timid mouse, never wanting to cross the street unless I was absolutely sure nothing would hit me. But as I’ve gotten used to our
Pedestrians here seem to be unusually skilled in walking while talking on cellphones. I can’t walk and talk at the same time. Well, that makes me sound like an idiot. I can walk and talk, but I can’t walk and make nice on a cellphone. Something about talking on a phone requires my complete attention, and since I never mastered the whole patting my head while rubbing my tummy thing (hey, at least I can tell time!), walking and using a cellphone is downright impossible. But most people in
Yet, others don’t quite seem to have the hang of walking and iPodestriating. While my husband and I were out the other night, we watched a young woman, totally absorbed in her iPod, step right out into the road in front of a vehicle. Luckily this particular vehicle wasn’t moving as quickly as vehicles usually do, and it waited while Miss iPod stood in the middle of the street, apparently distracted by the voices in her head, and decided, at the last minute, to turn back around and disappear back into the portal she stepped out of. She did finally notice the car as she turned around, but she was saved by the red light. Still, she remained completely unfazed, as if her alien commanders had forgotten to explain to her about cars and their function in this brave new world.
This young woman illustrated one of the reasons I hate distracting devices such as iPods. You just don’t pay attention well enough when you have shit in your ears. I have to have total awareness of my environment to feel comfortable – I don’t even like wearing headphones at home. But I am sure, after some time, Greeks will adapt themselves well to commuting with an iPod. Survival demands it.