Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Осторожно! : Be Careful!

  My theory is that even in the 60s, when almost the entire population of Berkeley and San Francisco had delusions of grandeur and dreams about joining their fellow comrades in Mother Russia against the evils of Capitalism, the people of SF and Berkeley were notorious Jaywalkers.  Therefore the activists who direly longed to fight for the international struggle were actually saved by their in ability to leave the country due to their commitment to domestic social causes, music and a mild amount of drugs.  The Americans who supported my good friend Mels (Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin) probably fantasized about bringing international attention to their cause by becoming a martyr after a demonstration gone awry involving tear gas, police dogs, or even starvation after a hunger march.  Death via motor vehicle accident?  Probably not the glorious finish to a life of fighting for change.  Especially today, it seems that everyone from the homeless San Francisco crack-head to the iPod-consumed Berkeley student completely lacks the fear of death as he or she meanders into oncoming traffic. I don't get it some times, have these people no idea that in the battle between steel car and fleshy body, the car will always win? Unfortunately, the people of Russia have had to learn this lesson the hard way... again...and again.

Russia leads the world in number of motor vehicle accidents, only after Ukraine(!) and Egypt. It is frightening to think that in Russia "это нормально" or not out of the ordinary to casually see the body of a victim just hit by a car.  However, I am happy to report that Russia is finally taking some initiative in reducing the number of deaths that occur due to motor vehicle accidents!  I recently read an interesting Russian article that discusses how the Duma voted in favor of a complete ban on drinking and driving.  In the United States, I can go to a bar, have a couple drinks, sober up and play hero as DD while I cart around my drunken friends after a long night of hitting the town.  In Russia, however, President Medvedev has issued a statement to the effect of this: "Unlike Europeans, once a Russian starts drinking, there is no stopping."  We appreciate Medvedev's bluntness and honesty.
  This Russian movie that I recently watched also comments on the grisly reality of motor vehicle accidents in Moscow.  Blissfully running through the streets of Moscow might produce beautiful cinematography, as well as, a great excuse to wear your tennis shoes, but it doesn't make for a happy movie ending.  Again, why tennis shoes should be reserved for gym use only!  

Alhough I was once a stubborn UC Berkeley student who's favorite line as I darted into a busy crosswalk along Bancroft Way was, "Pedestrians have the right of way, suckers!", I realize now that my common infraction which could cost me $108 from an anal retentive cop in California, might actually be a death sentence in Russia and Ukraine. 

  Friends, when traveling abroad, please do not talk on the phone and listen to your iPod when crossing the street.  Never forget to always look both ways.  You never know when you might have a close encounter with someone who took this beer advertisement seriously...

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