Tuesday, January 18, 2011

straight and narrow

Today I was thinking back about how my mom used to walk me to and from school, but then came a time when she weaned me off of that to go on my own (no, this wasn't high school..).

Our house was separated from my elementary school by one major street, Western Avenue. There was no signal on 36th Street; the nearest one was a block down on 36th Place and she told me to make sure and cross at the signal.

When I got out of school, she was waiting at the southeast corner of Western and 36th when I arrived at the southwest corner. She would then walk down to 36th Place on one side of the street and I'd walk on the other side, then cross at the signal and we'd walk back to the house together.

After doing this several times, she left me on my own to walk home from school - but, she said, make sure to cross at the signal.

It was tempting just to cross at 36th Street instead of walking a whole long block down to 36th Place, then crossing the street and walking another whole long block up to 36th Street, especially when there were no cars around but I did what she said.

For a while.

Finally, the character on my other shoulder that kept saying it made no sense to walk all that extra amount when the street was clear prevailed, and I took a short cut and crossed at 36th Street. My rationale: I'll make an exception this time since the nearest car was too far away to make any difference. Tomorrow I'll do it the right way.

You can probably guess what happened after that. Pretty soon I stopped walking that extra distance altogether and just did the expedient thing.

I realize this was a relatively minor thing, although it wouldn't have been had I gotten run over - "no really, I was crossing at the signal and the car hit me and knocked me a whole block up the street!" The thing is, life is full of temptations to take short cuts and pretty soon if you aren't careful, that's all you wind up doing.

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