This is a Miss America post. These posts occur weekly, monthly, bimonthly or perhaps never again–depending on my ability to adjust to life away from the star spangled banner.
Jaywalking is a broad term. Although I genuinely don’t care about the legality of jaywalking, I usually use the term to describe crossing the street when there is no crosswalk or crossing the street when the pedestrian light is red.
The whole idea of jaywalking is quite new to me. In North Carolina, I live in the country. If there were no tractors or trucks coming in either direction, I could walk or skip across the road as I pleased. In fact, I probably could have drawn hopscotch on the road and had a grand time. After about 18 years of this lifestyle, I transitioned to the college town of Chapel Hill—otherwise known as the southern part of heaven. In heaven, there were certainly a lot more cars and hopscotch was no longer an option, however, crossing the road hardly required the go-ahead from a light. Even if there was a pedestrian light, the color of said light was irrelevant. Just look left, right, left, then go on your merry way.
But, in Japan, it seems that jaywalking is neither common nor acceptable. Whether in Tokyo (where doing so would probably be the last thing you ever did do) or in the lonely streets of the “inaka,” Japanese for country (where you could lie in the middle of the road à la “The Notebook”), people always wait for the pedestrian light to turn green. Even on the loneliest lane and the most deserted drive, people still wait. And, wait and wait.
For my first few months in Japan, I would bolt across the road shamelessly without even realizing my faux pas. Most likely, I was running to catch a train, or had some other seemingly legitimate excuse. But, one day, I realized that there is no excuse. While walking to school, a typically kind old man yelled, “あか!” Although his tone of complete and utter annoyance would have been enough, I also miraculously understood that “aka” means “red” in English, and thus, I had better wait.
On occasion, when I literally can’t stand waiting for all the imaginary cars to pass, I cross the intersection and leave my Japanese comrades in the dust. However, the resulting feeling of guilt overwhelms my moral compass and leaves me regretting my decision. I know patience is a virtue, but I do miss walking across a good ol’ American road on my own accord.