Monday, January 21, 2019

Walk sign robots

My wife and I have spent much of our long weekend walking around the city, so we are particularly well acquainted with the walk sign guy. I don't know if you have him where you live. He says "Wait" when one presses the street crossing button, sometimes obsessively ("Wait wait wait w-w-way-w-wait. Wait."), depending on how many dozens of times I depress the street crossing button.

Street crossing buttons kind of get me worked up.

The walk sign guy also comments on when it's okay to walk. For the first two years this sounded to me like he was saying "Alzeimaslana sauce, Spaglin abnu!" But one day my wife cracked the code and told me he was saying "Walk sign is on to cross, (Franklin) Avenue."

So I'm not saying this robot guy was particularly good at his job, but at least he was fairly neutral about it.

Yesterday we came to an intersection and it had a new walk sign button. It also had a different guy! He said all the same things, but he was an asshole.

"Wait!" He ordered like a fascist cop.

"Walk sign is on to cross." He threatened with a kind of angry contempt.

This is a bad robot.

I am a fan of robots. I think robots tend more towards the good than bad. And though I don't yet know what is up with this horrible new walk sign guy, I will warn you with this:

Whenever you see a bad robot, someone is making money.


  1. There are walk sign guys on Como in the St. Anthony Park area; they were new last summer. In addition to the messages you describe, this guy makes an ak-ak-ak sound when the walk sign goes on. I guess it's for those with low vision. A while back I was crossing at the same time as a man a bit younger than I am, and he was very angry about the sound. Said that every time he crossed, it reminded him of (unspecified) military experiences.

    1. I know those crosswalks, and I think there might be a blind school in the area. It doesn't have the mean crosswalk guy there, but that is apparently no comfort to someone with ptsd.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.