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This Jaybird You Can’t Change

legsMichelle RickFree as a bird (not the article’s author).

I am an educated person who can read and write. I can also see perfectly well. I should know, therefore, that when there is a giant red hand flashing at me from across the street, I should probably stay on the curb instead of walking out into the oncoming traffic. But I don’t remember learning as a child that crossing the street only when the white symbol for walking-human was illuminated was essential to societal orderliness. I was always just told to hold hands.

Lacking this educational background, I convinced myself that if a car was to hit me, the driver would have to pay me several thousand dollars in some sort of law suit and I could go back to my life of walking into oncoming traffic again, except I’d be richer. I’m in no position to turn down free money. “Bring it on cars!” I would say as they honked their useless horns and I tiptoed across the asphalt. “Try and hit me, I’ll see you in court!” They would slow down, like cowards, or slam on their breaks, also like cowards. They would climb out their windows and tell me I’m crazy and that I must have a death wish. No, I just knew that the alternative to getting to the other side of the street when I wanted meant either free money or death. And if I died, then I wouldn’t really know the difference would I?

This attitude allowed me to get a lot done while crossing intersections. I could time myself on a mile walk, uninterrupted. I could eat the falafel I just bought. I could make calls to my grandmother. I saw the stretch of open asphalt as a vast field of opportunity. What could I get done from point A to point B? Could I finish this container of pasta salad? Could I paint my nails this shade of electric blue? Could I keep knitting this scarf? Of course I could. Read more…