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Walking on the wild (Wadena) side

Please don't kill me.

The little walking man is lit up and beckoning me to step through the crosswalk. I just want to get from the Boondocks corner to Larry's Family Pizza.

This plea for help may be a little on the dramatic side, but there are times when being a pedestrian in downtown Wadena, or any downtown for that matter, means walking on the wild side.

Just last summer and fall I had a couple close calls when a truck and a minivan almost ran me over because they did not look for pedestrians in the crosswalk before making a left turn. Other times it almost feels like the vehicles are going to run across my heels because they're in such a hurry to turn before I can step onto the safety of the sidewalk.

I work downtown and I like to walk to lunch, to the school to take photos or anywhere that's in walking distance for an assignment. I enjoy checking out the movie posters at the Cozy and the new portraits on display at Rex McDonald. The scent wafting out of the bakery smells heavenly as I pass by.

While it should be obvious that a pedestrian has the right-of-way when the signal indicates so on a traffic light, stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks that don't have lighted guidance is a little trickier.

Sometimes it's difficult to tell what pedestrians are going to do once they reach a corner. Do they want to cross First Street Southeast or Colfax Avenue? Are they reaching down to tie their shoes? A big SUV can even hide them from a driver's sight. Pedestrians have a responsibility to be careful, too, of course. But when someone is clearly waiting drivers need to stop, not slam on their brakes and stop, but slow down and stop.

It can be a long, cold trip to social services for a board meeting in the winter when you have to wait for car after to car to speed through a crosswalk you're supposed to be walking through.

My irritation is tempered, though, by knowing I fail to stop like I'm supposed to at times, as well. We've all made mistakes while driving. I know I have. I'm not only a pedestrian. I get behind the wheel, too.

We can all use a reminder to be careful now that warm weather has eased the pain of traveling without a heated vehicle and people are out on foot. We also need to be on the look-out for less-protected vehicles. Kids are done with school soon and the bikes that strike terror into the heart of every driver will be pedaling across town.

We live in a town with two major highways blazing through it. This fact necessitates some extra caution on everyone's part.

What is our hurry anyway? I'm pretty sure our bosses won't notice if we get back to work 30 seconds later than we would have otherwise. The eggs on sale at Mason Brothers will still be there if we have to wait a minute for an elderly man from the Commercial Apartments to make his way to buy some shoes from Lyle's. It's senior citizen's days and he wants his discount. We should let him get it.

Our lives aren't quite as important as we think they are when we're riding high in four-wheel drive trucks. We can wait.

I'm sure our downtown businesses appreciate drivers watching out for their customers. We've got a cute downtown to enjoy, so let's look out for each other as we maneuver Jefferson Street and the avenues that cross through it.

I ordered a chicken salad at Larry's and I can't wait to dunk my crispy breadstick into the Caesar dressing. I'm not ready to check out just yet.