This morning was unexpectedly expensive. At 7:15, I was walking to a downtown restaurant for a breakfast meeting, as I do every Thursday, and I came to the intersection of Seneca Street and 3rd Avenue. The light was against us, and so I waited with half a dozen other pedestrians for it to change. I was watching the traffic light for Seneca Street, which was devoid of cars. The light changed from green to yellow, and I put my right foot on the crosswalk. One second later, four things happened:
- the traffic light change to red,
- the pedestrian signal changed to “WALK”,
- I pushed off from the kerb with my left foot, and
- I heard the sound of a Harley Davidson revving; this was closely followed by a police siren.
I had been nicked for jaywalking.
I was quiet and scrupulously polite, remembering the case of Professor Fernandez-Armesto in Atlanta. I showed my ID, answered the officer’s questions, and received a citation ((Confusingly for non-Americans, “citation” has several contradictory meanings. It can, inter alia, mean “a mention of a praiseworthy act or achievement” or “a legal summons”. It ranks with one of my other favourite auto-antonyms, the verb “to table”.)) for $56. I have no idea how he arrived at that fine ((Merry thinks that the cop simply used my age.)) – the Seattle City code simply states that the fine shall be “not more than $250” (whew!). I also think that it’s odd that the fine should be nearly twice that for parking in a handicapped-only space, but then I come from a country, England, in which there is no such thing as jaywalking, and from a city (Boston) where the jaywalking laws have apparently not been enforced since 1976.
I guess I’m a real Seattlite now.