Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 10/09/2023

We have this instruction manual of a post explaining to us lowly rubes how to cross a road. 

Tl;dr : go with the flow of traffic. 

This raises a few questions for me: when you’re crossing the street, do you make eye contact with the driver to make sure they’ve seen you, or do you avoid contact? 

If you make eye contact, does that mean you’re being safe, or asserting your dominance as the haver-of-the-right-of-way? 

If you avoid eye contact, is it because you expect the driver to see you and stop, and you feel so powerful that you can ignore them? Or do you feel somehow ashamed that you’re slowing them down, so you avoid any communication with them, lest they bore holes through your eyes with their seething rage? 

Why is crossing the road such an emotional ordeal? Is it because people prioritize the flow of car-traffic above all else, including the flow of foot-traffic and the lives of pedestrians? We hash these feelings out in the comments. 

Here are some of the points people make:

  1. Pedestrians have the right of way and drivers should always stop for them. 

As one person so eloquently puts it:  “👏DRIVING 👏IS 👏A👏PRIVILEGE👏 I’m sitting in a well cushioned air conditioned structure designed for my comfort. I can hit 100mph in less than 20 seconds just by moving my foot. Don’t worry about slowing me nor my fellow motorists down. You are the true royalty of the road, you are a pedestrian. I am YOUR guest. If I am agitated by traffic it’s 100% by choice.”

Exactly. There’s this weird cultural phenomenon where people will run across the street at a crosswalk after a car has stopped for them. Like, take your time. Cars can wait. 

  1. We should get rid of the bank road crosswalks altogether and people can cross at the library or the movie theater. I guess this means  if you want to get from the bookstore to the library, you’ll have to walk to Island Lumber, cross into the Thriftway parking lot, walk through the bank drive-through, then get onto the sidewalk that leads to The Rock. That will certainly help the flow of traffic and not have any unintended consequences. 
  1. This is how they were taught to cross the road as children, so anyone who crosses the road in a different fashion either has no class and poor breeding, or is bringing shame unto their ancestors. 

Okay, absolute real talk here: That intersection needs a stop light and a pedestrian crosswalk light. I know I will be removed from town kicking and screaming for saying this and be forced to live in the shadows of society or, god forbid, Port Orchard. 

Also, someone recommended we look up jaywalking on wikipedia, so I fell down an internet rabbit hole and learned about the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which sought, in a globalizing world, to create consistent international rules for traffic. The US is not even a signatory, which means we can wreak chaos on the road wherever we go. 

And speaking of road dangers, we have this post, with 109 comments, 

I’ll spare you the accompanying picture. 

My first thought is, this person was squatting in the middle of the road at four in the morning? Isn’t that dangerous? I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who thought that. Someone said, 

“Thanks for caring, but please don’t stand in the middle of the road in the dark!”

Other people have different gut reactions to the situation. One person says, “Speeding 😐” I don’t know. If the deer had been speeding, they would’ve made it across the road before the car hit them.

We quickly get into heartbreak territory where people who live in the area recognize the deer and mourn her in the comments. Here’s a picture of her nursing with her mom. 

Some say the poster might be interpreting the situation wrong. Two people have been hit on the side of the car by deer, and had to assess that they, and the children with them, were okay. Also, very few of us knew you were supposed to call 911 in this sort of situation.

We ask what to do when/ if we hit a deer. We get this somewhat disturbing answer: 

“Dial 911, say it is not an emergency, but you hit, or saw a deer hit, & it is still alive, needing to be put out of its misery. After the deer is dispatched, harvest the animal yourself, call a friend who will, or post the location on the FB group ‘Vashon Deer Salvage’. Then, at least the meat will not be wasted.Note, after harvesting a road kill deer, one must register the harvest within 24 hours online.”

Okay, back-up. There’s a Facebook group where you go and collect dead deer? Do they do that thing where you wait 12 hours then pick a name out of a hat like people do when they’re giving away an old appliance? Or is it first-come-first-served? Also, does this imply that when King County comes to kill the deer, they just leave the dead deer there for people to scavenge? 

Someone says they wish more people would learn how to put down a suffering deer. The comment below it starts, “it is illegal for you to do it.That being said, …” And I’ll spare you the details of what comes next, but it was both instructive and visceral. 

Then people ask, if it’s illegal and we do it anyways, what’s the punishment?

Someone has this idea: “maybe it’s time to lobby to change the law. Allow some responsible volunteers to be deputized for the sole purpose of dispatching these animals. Reduce demand on law enforcement, faster response time, and I suspect most who would volunteer for such a position would also be compassionate enough to ensure the meat is salvaged and not left to rot on the roadside.”

Then we wouldn’t need police, which is probably for the best, considering that another post implies we might not have cops much longer. 

Caption: I didn’t know we had a Dunkin Donuts on island. 

Wait, who will dispatch deer at 4 am if there are no cops? Also, what is a cop shop? 

When we ask if the cops are moving off island, someone responds, “they are going to be working from home.” I still don’t know if this is all a joke or if a building that houses the sherifs is up for sale. I refuse to investigate, and I hope I can just infer the answer by reading the comments. 

One person says, “Turn the place into a sandwich board factory.” Another says, “Will it become a weed store?” Okay, so it probably is a real building. 

One commenter, who is presumably a realtor for Sotheby’s, says, “Comes with justice room and weightlifting center.”

We all agree that a justice room sounds kinky. 

Someone posts this image of the Justice Room

So very kinky, indeed. 

Okay, so I’m thinking this is probably a picture from an online gallery where the property is being sold. So maybe it’s real? 

Another says, “I want the old jail to serve artisanal tea and crumpets.”  Wait, there’s an old jail on Vashon?! How come I haven’t heard people saying that if your family hasn’t lived on Vashon long enough for one of your ancestors to have been locked in the Vashon jail, then you’re not a true islander? Also, I bet the place has the best graffiti. 

One person adds of the old jail, “For a small extra fee, the customers could be put in irons and handcuffed to the table to enjoy their afternoon tea!”

Fun fact, when I was growing up in Connecticut, there were no cool museums, so every year we had a field trip to Old Newgate Prison (I know, the name is an oxymoron) which was a failed copper mine that got turned into a colonial prison. We’d go and watch volunteers do historical reenactments of people getting thrown in jail.

In case you want to revisit my childhood or have nightmares

Finally, we have this post: 

Someone asks, “Well, we’re an island that focuses on its art, and isn’t art a form of graffiti?”

Someone responds, “nope. Visual is done privately unless you are commissioned or awarded a public space.. “

Okay, that made me laugh. The idea that it’s only art if you keep it private or someone pays you for it.  As someone points out, “um…no, that’s not how it works. There is brilliant street art all over the world that is not commissioned.” 

Another person mentions that a lot of our graffiti is just someone writing the word “benzo” on things. 

Another astute and handsome islander who shares a last name with me says, “No clue. I wish we had some large and colorful pieces instead of cryptic sharpie art.

I agree. Some islanders have been complaining recently about how they find town ugly. What if we had some colorful murals? More than just the one on the bank that has cows and boats and an anachronistic ATM machine? 

One islander  takes direct  action against graffiti. They say, “I carry silver spray paint in my car so I can cover tags when I see them!” 

I love that someone goes around censoring graffiti. It makes the town look like a declassified document full of redactions. 

One person has an edifying solution to the problem of crappy graffiti: “ Whoever this sociopathic indigo child that’s painting his wack shit all over the island needs to put his nose in a sketchbook and also learn how to use a spray can.”

They also say, “I was gobsmacked when I saw the tag on the old barge under Judd Creek Bridge. It was crap, but wow…someone took their life into their hands climbing out on that rotten thing to put their shit up. A few months later, the barge had finally given up and broke in half and now there’s not much left”

The barge is a reminder that life is fleeting, and, as much as we strive to leave our mark, everything we know will one day crumble and be replaced. We are but the graffiti on the wall of a sinking barge. The best we can do with life is, as my favorite Facebooker said, put our noses in metaphorical sketchbooks and learn to at least be good graffiti. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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