Today, as I approached the traffic lights near the train station I saw that they had just changed, that the little green man had disappeared and the little red flashing man, (who was taunts and teases “come on! You’ve almost made it!”) had just turned into a still and stubborn red man, whose blank inanimate face spells defeat.
I stood and watched as the last of the pedestrians who were just slightly quicker than me finished crossing the road, if only I had been a few seconds faster, I would have been one of them, secure in the herd, I thought to myself. These lights were particularly long, and I could see the train station across the road, so close and yet so far, the lights were still red, but a mad dash across the road now would get me securely onto my train and off to work on time, if only I had the guts to do it. I battled with the decision, this was split second thinking, I had only the most limited time if I was going to make the attempt at crossing the road. No, I wouldn’t, I would wait. I was not going to risk my life, or more importantly possible social embarrassment by breaking the pedestrian code.
I was content in my decision, until… Who was that? That girl, walking with such confidence one might expect her to be the star of some kind of female empowering medical drama. She walked right by me, paused, for only a second before striding out into the road, crossing the street without any problems, just making it to the other side as the traffic started to move forward.
I was shamed, left standing there like a fool. Because of my own fear, because of my insistence on adhering to societies rules, I was left waiting for the lights to complete their cycle once more. That girl who crossed, she was a maverick, she did things her way, screw traffic convention, screw pedestrian protocol. I was envious of that girl, I wanted to be that girl, and today I have decided, I will be that girl. Today, I become a maverick.
When I eventually boarded the train, I saw everything with new eyes. There was only one seat left, a small gap between two people in the middle of a three person seater. The old me would never have disturbed these two people by attempting to squeeze in between them. It would have been rude and embarrassing, indeed there were already two or three people standing, glancing wistfully at the seat, nobody game enough to do anything about it. Normally I would have been one of those people, but not today. Today I focused on that seat, I strode purposefully towards it and as I locked into eye contact with the man on the edge of the seat I said in a loud clear voice “Excuse me” I squeezed past him and slid victoriously into the seat (which if I’m honest, was not quite big enough for me to sit in comfortably.) As I glanced around the carriage I saw the looks in people’s eyes, I could tell they were thinking, “Who is this girl? Where did she come from? ” I turned and looked at one woman who was staring at me, I shot her what I considered to be a wry smile, she turned away awkwardly. In hindsight, it may have come across more creepy than wry.
From then on I was unstoppable, when I ordered my lunch, the woman mistakenly put butter onto my sandwich despite me having asked her not to do so. I spoke up, I informed her that I did not want butter, and I felt only the mildest hint of guilt as she was forced to begin my sandwich again.
I spoke up, I didn’t play by anybody’s rules, pedestrian protocol was a thing of the past. If you answer your phone on the train in front of me, get ready for a stern throat clearing. I was drunk on my new freedom, I was out of control, in many ways, I was unrecognizable, even to myself.
It was as I reprimanded someone for cutting in line and was given a steady stream of abuse in reply, that I realised I had gone too far, I couldn’t live this way. Being this kind of radical maverick was too tiring. I had to stop.
Although It was a difficult change, I gave up my new-found maverick status, I retired my out there attitude, and I transformed back into the mild-mannered girl I always was, although my mark on the world was a small one, at least I tried, at least I can hold my head up high, knowing that I gave it my all, and as I wait for the traffic light this afternoon, my disappointment may be dulled by the next maverick that steps out into traffic getting run down by a car.