After hiding behind a dumpster, escaping down a sidestreet and getting to the main drag into the Vatican, I found myself safe and back with my friends. One of them got a water bottle hurled in her direction and then the idiot driver started to hold up traffic in the Vatican while staring me down. I would later get chewed out by Kip, our trip’s assistant lead, probably with good reason.
Why would I even do this, you’re asking? Maybe you’re not asking. Maybe you know me and you don’t need to ask, or have come to expect stuff like that. But most- make that some of the things I do have an explanation. During one of the first years up at Many Point Scout Camp, one of the older scouts made up this game called Car Touch. The main idea was to touch passing cars. Since these were all dirt roads and there were usually a lot of people walking along them, this wasn’t such a bad idea. But the idea was still to be discrete about it. You still didn’t want people to know you were touching their car. I held on to this ritual throughout most of the rest of my growing up, and I still do it on occasion. Sometimes I give myself arbitrary points based on the quality of the touch. But I don’t really care if anyone else is playing with me. I imagine some people somewhere are, and that’s enough.
The incident I just described probably should have quelled my desire to play this game, though, right? Well, it didn’t. Playing the game now reminds me of that story, and about that whole month overseas, which was one of the most fun times of my life and I think even a turning point, or a coming-of-age period for me. And I think there’s even more to it than that.
I’ve realized this game helps me to understand that cars themselves don’t hurt people, it’s the people carelessly driving and the people carelessly walking that endanger us all. We are all just people, moving from one point to another, and we all have to watch out for each other. While some are taking a different form of transportation, it doesn’t mean that at a later point the pedestrian and the driver won’t be in the opposite situations. Was it dumb to assume that people in a foreign country would take kindly to my harmless game? Probably. But at least in America, I know that I can walk close enough to the car, even when it’s moving, to touch it, so it must not be inherently dangerous. It thereby helps me to understand what a safe distance from the car is, which is good for both when I’m walking and when I’m driving- in the latter case, knowing what a safe distance from the pedestrians is. I never want to touch cars that are going too fast, just like I never want to assume that pedestrians are going to see me driving and/or try to avoid me.