Pelican Crossing Phenomena

Pelican crossings – just another form of traffic control here in the UK, especially when helping pedestrians cross the road. So there can’t surely be any amusement in those, right? Wrong. :)

If it weren’t for my dear dear friend Philip, I might never have given this a second thought, but the more I am aware of it, the more amusing it is to me when I am at a pelican crossing. What started as something observational has now been turned into a game.

Pelican Push Button

Have you ever been walking through town and come to a pelican crossing which is deserted? I have, and I know Philip has too. Well, what’s the first thing you do? You push the button on the pelican crossing, right? Well, I hope so – I know that’s what I do, especially if it’s busy. But what happens when there’s people waiting there already, what do you do then?

Well, logically, you’d assume (yes, brave word to use there) that the button had been pushed already, right? Certainly not an unreasonable assumption to make – except it all falls apart when you’ve been waiting there for what seems like an eternity whilst you look on in horror at the traffic still streaming past. That’s likely because the other three or so people there: just never pushed the damn button to begin with.

It’s a common occurrence, friends. So common in fact that I have on too many separate occasions approached a pelican crossing with people waiting at the roadside, only to then have to press the button! I mean, what on Earth are these people doing, I wonder? Let’s consider the possibilities:

Or, they know something we don’t. I mean, what if the button doesn’t do anything? Or what if it’s one large mutex where the game is everyone else is waiting for someone to press the button? One thing I do know what it isn’t, is it’s not thinking time for the pedestrian — to qualify as thinking time you need to be a bus driver, but that’s a separate topic for another day.

So what’s the game? Well, the game is this: to just completely ignore the button, thus decreasing your wait time at the pelican crossing. Clearly, it’s not needed, most other people never seem the need to push it.

Of course you then get the spoilers – those impatient ones who’ve not cottoned on to the whole game yet – usually the homeless drunks, or bag-ladies who, having pressed the damn button (and thus spoiling my game entirely. Bastards) wait a few seconds and then proceed to completely hammer the button to death, no doubt causing PPF, that nasty condition known as Pelican Pushing Fever. This can’t happen, it can’t be allowed to happen, it ruins my day, and does nothing for the sufferer of PPF.

So if you’re now no loger a pelican virgin and are now playing the game, let me know. I’ll add your testimony to this page for posterity.