Crosswalk Rules

Today I ran for the crosswalk, which is not an overly extraordinary occurrence- but after taking a few steps at a jogging pace, I quickly realized today was not a day for running.

I never would have run for a green crosswalk sign when I lived in America.  Or white?  Little crosswalk men are white, aren’t they?  Regardless of white and orange or green and red, I wouldn’t be caught dead running.  I want to appear laid back and easy going.  I don’t want onlookers to think I’m in a hurry.  I don’t want anyone to see me running without my athletic wear and headphones.

However, I wouldn’t really want to stand on the corner and wait for the green light either.  I would continue walking around the corner, keeping an eye out until traffic let up enough to make it across the street, jaywalking without a second thought.  Disclaimer: In Montana, there’s hardly a street you can’t cross mid-traffic if you continue walking half a block.

In Seoul, waiting on the corner for the crosswalk sign to light up is part of every trip out of the house, or you’ll never get across the street!  I remember fidgeting at first, but I quickly got used to it.  I remember looking both ways at first, but now I continue reading my text messages while I cross.  I remember getting out of the way for oncoming foot traffic.  Now, I slap my RBF on and stride confidently and directly toward the opposing traffic while carefully avoiding eye contact. I remember telling other newcomers: “Never be the first one or the last one in the intersection.”  At least that’s still a good rule.

And I’ve gotten used to looking ahead and deciding wether or not I could make it across the street if I run, factoring in my laziness or considering if I’m wearing the wrong shoes.

This morning I was looking ahead and realized I’d have awkward timing.  If I continued walking at my present speed, I would arrive at the curb while the crosswalk was still hot, BUT I wouldn’t have enough time to make it across.  The worst situation is waiting at the side while people fresh from crossing arrive on your side of the sidewalk.  Then, you have to wait for a full cycle of the stoplight- which could actually take 5 minutes, no thank you.

I started running.  Which to be honest was not really a run in my dress and flimsy flats but damned if I bow to misogyny and say a girl can’t run in a dress and flimsy flats.  I only had to run about 1/3 of the way across- I made it safely (not the last one) just as the crosswalk man disappeared.  But that’s not really why I stopped running.

You see, this morning, my stomach was just upset enough that I had to use the bathroom 3 times. So naturally, I put on some old underwear because just in case.  Also it’s comfy- there’s almost no elasticity left.

As soon as I started out, my underwear gave a sigh and slipped a bit.  Before I could comprehend that as a problem, my shoulder bag rubbing against my dress caught my underwear just right and caused more slippage.  By that time I had left the curb, and was thinking “Oh god, it’s too late.  I’m in the street now and I can’t turn back!”. I discreetly (I hope) adjusted my bag by pulling it up, trying to bring my underwear with it.  That’s when I started walking.

There is a time and place for running across streets in the middle of the block.  There is a time and a place for running in crosswalks, but there is no time or place for losing your clothing in one.


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