If I could avoid Waterman Street—potentially the most difficult thing to cross since the Red Sea—I would. But alas, it is smack dab in the center of campus. So, I, like most Brown students, encounter it every day.
What makes crossing Waterman so unpleasant is not the fact that it is a main artery (or at least as main as any street in Providence can be). I have eyes and ears. I can cross the street.
There are two main reasons why the Waterman crossing experience sucks. Firstly, at the corner of Waterman and Thayer, the Walk/Don’t Walk sign never ever displays the “walk” signal. When I say “never ever,” I’m not using it idiomatically. I have actually never seen that beautiful fluorescent man purposefully walking to his destination. Instead, I am greeted every time by that obnoxious red hand.
Once I realized this sign was stupid, I began to ignore the walk/don’t walk sign and instead look at the traffic lights to decide when to walk. This tactic was met with assorted cautionary exclamations from friends: “Don’t walk, it says not to walk!”; “Are you trying to die?”; “You’re gonna get hit by a car!”; “Can you pay attention to the sign?”; “You’re such a New Yorker.” I was even once pulled back onto the sidewalk by a total stranger while attempting to cross the street even though oncoming traffic had a red light. Chill out, folks.
But probably the least chill people on Waterman Street are the traffic guards in front of J. Walter Wilson on Fridays. It feels like they aren’t there any other day of the week (even though they are), probably because a part of me thinks that they are intentionally attempting to ruin my walk to the best event of the week–Chicken Finger Friday.
Let’s take a step back: I wake up on Friday, excited for the weekend to start, but even more excited for that breaded poultry goodness. I walk from my dorm, through the Main Green, pondering whether I want eight or ten chicken fingers on this lovely autumn day. Then I reach Waterman, where I am greeted by a traffic guard belligerently shouting, “DON’T WALK” at a group of students obviously also on their way to the holy ground that is the V-Dub.
While I admire the intensity these traffic guards approach this task with, the sheer intensity with which we are told not to walk is a bit alarming. Personally, I’m not sure why these traffic guards are necessary, considering the six other days of the week, no one gets hit by cars crossing Waterman. This seems particularly foolish when you realize that, while Waterman is in fact a major College Hill street, there are still only approximately six cars driving down Waterman per hour. Plus, Rhodies have grown accustomed to Brown students never looking for cars and just crossing, so they stop more frequently than they drive. Come to think of it, that might be the reason there are traffic guards…
P.S. I really think someone should create a word for the walk/don’t walk sign.
P.P.S. The traffic guards are actually really friendly and of course are just doing their jobs.