The only thing is this. The intersection these lights guard—well, it no longer exists. This portion of
street grid fell victim long ago to the weapons of choice of urban planners. Park benches, pavers, trash cans and a myriad
other pedestrian plaza features that occupy the spaces were cars used to
go. As a result, the streets are little
more than driveways and imagination and memory.
Whatever remained of the urban flow was removed in the name of security.
$200,000 guard shacks, concrete barriers and some fencing help secure the scene
from evil delivery trucks, wayward students attending the nearby schools and
Chinese food delivery drivers on scooters that are more duct tape than anything
else. All manners of evil are halted
from progressing onto our “campus”—never mind the busy streets on the other
side of the building or the fact that our public safety communications facility
is downwind by less than a mile from one of the nation’s most likely terror
targets. The gates and the dozing blue
uniformed sentries will ensure our safety.
You have to wonder, as the light goes through its cycle—red to green and back again. How many other things here do the same? Onward without learning? Performing a function admirably that no longer needs to be performed. It is as though an elevator operator pressed the button for you, even though you could do it yourself—or, worse, even though you were in a one story building.
So much of this city seems to be this way. Inertia is a powerful, powerful force. It can drive organizations, people, places—stoplights and walk signs—well on past the moment they were useful or even necessary. I think about this as I ponder my own future—where my own needs will take me and as I try to find inside—in the places that cannot be guided by an illuminated white or red hand—the map that will say where to go.
My only certainty is that it is a different place. Away from the humans that so brazenly walk amongst the rats and the people and things that so blindly continue on—never realizing how much has changed around them. And likely without the comforting light of a street light that has long ago lost its street.