Helplessness at a busy crosswalk
November 13, 2012 2:31 PM Subscribe
Can you help me identify a 25+ year-old short story that describes someone unable to cross a city street?
posted by argonauta to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This has been haunting me for years. I have no idea how central it was to the plot, but in the scene I recall, the narrator describes someone with a developmental disability standing at a busy street corner, wanting desperately to cross, but unable to because he/she can't understand how the WALK/DON'T WALK signal works. I believe the story described how the people and traffic all kept ebbing and flowing around the character while he/she was frozen on the spot, possibly crying. I don't think there was any kind of resolution.
If I had to guess, I would say the character was a woman in her late teens or early 20s with an old-fashioned (possibly hand-me-down?) pocketbook and wearing or carrying a hat, and I think it was set in a women-typically-wearing-hats era, probably the 1950s.
I read this in a public U.S. middle school/junior high in 1985, and I believe it was just a passing scene in an anthology of some kind, possibly a "language arts" textbook... or maybe just something I found at the library that was not actually age-appropriate.
Does that ring any bells, even faint ones? I can't tell you how much it would mean to me to track this down after all these years.