Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don't Walk in Canada

One night in Edmonton, we felt the need to escape the seedy motel because there was nothing on tv. The Olympics we had been dying to see all week, but didn't have access to any tv, now was playing on 3 channels: one in French, one showing baseball and one a recap of the gymnastics we had seen the night before. So really, nothing on tv.

For two weeks every time we passed through a city or town we noticed the proliferation of A&W restaurants. The way we have Starbucks, they have A&W. Coffee vs. rootbeer. I had been waiting for an opportunity to venture out for a root beer float and now, our motel's strip mall had an A&W right next door. The three of us, 2 old (but very good looking) parents and their 14 year old son on a Canadian adventure for fast food ice cream.

However, at 9:15pm on a Friday night everything in nowheresville Edmonton is closed. Instead of heading back to the motel to eat leftover marshmallows, we ventured further, into the strip mall across the street, which was dominated by a Superstore (that is the actual name of the store). The Superstore was open but didn't seem as romantic as a root beer float. So on we went through this vast parking lot that contained a gas station, a car wash and a Tony Roma's. We could see, on the other side of the parking lot, and about a block away was an Arby's, the archrival to A&W. Their big glowing sign advertised "Jamocha Shakes," which is ALMOST a root beer float.

This part may be hard to describe, but it is an integral part of the story so pay attention. The street we were about to cross was 2 way, with a median in the middle. This street had no way to go but straight through the cross section, or make a right onto the one way street. The first part of our journey across was to pass through the right turn lane, which had no cars. Then we had to cross past the single car that was stopped for a red light. Technically we did not have the lit up man walk signal in our favor because the other side of the street had some turning going on, but it was far from where we were, and had nothing to do with our quarter of the road. So we crossed in front of the one stopped car and stood on to the median divider. Then, when the little man turned green, we finished crossing the second half of the street.

My eyes were then blinded by a flashing light and blaring siren. Over a loudspeaker was a cop telling us to wait by the road and they were waving their hands at us from inside their cop car. We were "pulled over." Two cops got out of the car and glared at us as though we had just insulted their mother and crapped on the lawn.

It was hard to concentrate on what the one cop was saying because he was 7 feet tall. I craned my neck up at him and told him so. He stepped off the curb so he stood in the street instead, and even with those extra 5 or 7 inches was still a full head taller than my 6'1" husband. At first we tried to protest that we crossed the street safely, and that there weren't any cars there to hit us, but he really didn't want to hear from us. So after an initial yelp, we shut up and pretended to listen to him lecture us.

This is what we heard:
- You set a bad example for your son
- The fine could be $250 per person, or $750
- If a car hit you it would be your fault because in Alberta, pedestrians who jaywalk aren't protected by blah blah blobbety blah
- It's a Friday night and we've already pulled over 4 drunk drivers
- Cars can come out of nowhere and kill you
- How irresponsible you are to cross the street against the light
- What kind of idiots walk in a town full of strip malls

So they didn't give us the tickets and we were saved from skipping town without paying them, which is absolutely what we would have done.And finally, this gem posted at the Chinese food restaurant near the airport:

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