Crossing the road in any country plunges you right into the national psyche. As you take your life in your hands – and it flashes before your eyes – you wonder, is today a good day to die.
It’s bloomin terrifying.
- Brain engage.
- Look left, or is that right?
- A tentative step forward. Your foot hasn’t hit the ground yet and you realise that pedestrian crossings are also known as ‘completely meaningless’
- You jump back scared, only to bump into the person behind you, who looks at you as though you’re an idiot and walks calmly across the road avoiding the motorbikes, cars, buses and trucks that shave past.
- I’ve just shat myself. I’m still on the curb.
Such was day one in India, 1990
….and day 2
…and day 3.
You do get used to it though. Your flight or fight response takes a Valium and you eventually cross the road with ease….until the next country.
Testing the Theory
When I decided to settle in the UK, I had to take the ‘Life in Britain Test’.
As my wife jokes, “how many people in Wales put a red sock on their left foot on Wednesdays?”
Well, not quite, but we’d all benefit from some different questions.
Learn about the Royal family? Or… learn how not to die whilst crossing the road?
Tough choice every time.
I’m inclined to go with the Royals. Prince Harry is a red-head after all. We have a bond, you know? It goes deep. And he’s now also an expat, so….
But, needs must.
I pick ‘not dying whilst crossing the road’.
Based on my completion of the highly accredited course – ‘You’ve Shat Yourself to Suave Moves Across the Road in 30 Days’, I’m generously offering you some free top-tips, based on highly spurious generalisations and gross simplications.
Cath’s Cleverly-Cunning TOP 5 TIPS
(also known as Cath’s stupidity)*
Wear a brightly coloured shirt so that drivers can aim for you at speed before diverting at the last minute. This works particularly well in France. You’ll stand out better at a distance. It’s great too for testing your flight or fight response.
Wear shoes that are slightly too big for you, so that you trip on a pothole and stagger inelegantly across the road, half-bent half-upright, hoping that half-upright wins the day. And then it doesn’t. This technique is particularly useful when you want to blend in and share a joke with the locals. Carrying luggage can make it even more effective.
A gormless look on your face is a superb way to slow the traffic before you even step out onto the road. If you’re lucky you’ll find 3-4 taxis stopping to see if you want a ride. It’s at this moment that you’ve got the best chance of getting across the road.
This isn’t failsafe though because your inept tourist-level language skills mean that you’ve accidentally said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ to the drivers. However, it’s also one of the best options because you’ll have an amazing chat to the driver when he reveals that he speaks your language perfectly – and you realise that you have much more personal growth ahead of you than you realised.
This is an oldie, but a goodie and works every time. Just as you get near the other side of the road, step in an old pool of water whilst wearing sandles. Like really step in it deep and proper. That way, your parent will have to scoop you up quick as a flash and run you across the remaining distance to clean your feet thoroughly. You don’t want to risk catching bilharzia from contaminated water.
Slightly different to #TOP-TIP 3, but equally useful – my best tip for crossing the road is to not cross one at all.
Stand by the side of the road and get into a stranger’s car when they slow down. You’ll discover it’s not an UBER after about 4 mins. You’ll freak out discreetly, but the real benefit comes when the driver starts talking and acting strangely. It’s still good though because you learn how to remain calm and after all, you’ll avoid having to walk to the airport and all the roads you’d have been forced to cross. Genius!
And you thought crossing the road was easy.
I’m fast going off the Prince Harry option and will start advocating for ‘not dying whilst crossing the road’ to be included in every country’s entrance test.
You with me?
*My disclaimer – Please do not try any of these tips! This is a satirical piece for the purposes of prooving I’ve survived my stupid actions 🙂