Annoyances in Motion

There are instances in Las Vegas which might fit in Jacques Tati films. He was a French filmmaker whose movies immersed themselves in our human drolleries. Admittedly for Americans his productions could be acquired tastes.

After all, they were rendered in French.

Certain traffic situations in the Mojave summon Tati. Okay. A malevolent Tati. Pedestrians crossing streets and drivers navigating roads are two of them.

Whether they know it or not, all involved in the above-named instances must love creating havoc and hazards, consciously or otherwise.

In New York, these sequences might prompt the least amount of thought before simply being executed one way or another. Here in Nevada, though, what occurs – or doesn’t occur – could become profound.

After consideration, perhaps the pop culture reference I should’ve used was The Twilight Zone. Tati fits better but, hey, isn’t Rod Serling more relatable?

Away from the Strip, Downtown, sometime deep into the night when the attractions and amusements are still full, active, and loud, lone pedestrians stumble on the sidewalks. They seemingly trod pavement just waiting to hinder drivers wishing to turn corners or traverse intersections.

These people, well, warm-blooded wraiths, really, appear only to inconvenience drivers. Little else.

Trust me when I attest that in vast parts of nighttime Las Vegas, neighborhoods where those who would be considered “decent people” slumber, there will be along blocks of otherwise empty sidewalk someone, usually an itinerant, who’s apparently timed his or her footfall onto the asphalt itself just as a vehicle approaches. It’s fucking uncanny.

During the day does the same occur? There’s more activity under the sun. More pedestrians are out and about everywhere then. A solitary figure would need to be quite disruptive to be noticed, wouldn’t he or she?

That’d mean being in the thrall of whatever screaming woman standing topless on a major street’s median. Or that of a homeless man seeking disgust – and maybe outrage – by letting his trousers and drawers bunch around his ankles as he ambles between cars stopped at a traffic signal. Surprisingly police respond to the first much faster than the second.

Attention is less taxed at night. Then, there should be fewer obstructions and distractions. Because of emptiness, the limits lowered. Or even exceeded.

Until some grimy, gibbering human excrescence becomes a sine or cosine insofar as automobiles.

In Las Vegas there is a campaign that pleads with drivers to be alert to pedestrians. Generally traffic is so slow and mindful in the Big Mayberry the appeal is unnecessary to this former New Yorker. How slow? How mindful? Most of the time a chauffeur wouldn’t hear a peep from Miss Daisy.

To bowl over anyone venturing across an open street, the ambulatory target must be entirely focused on his or her handheld device in a crosswalk or jaywalking, while the driver ignores what passes before his or her hood as he or she texts. Since most Nevadans have zero aptitude for multitasking, cars turning pedestrians into statistics mostly occur at night.

Unless it’s some hopped-up tourist who reaches warp speed achieved through sixth gear and inattention transforms his or her exotic rental car into daytime death device. In that case it really couldn’t be helped, could it?

Nevertheless, those evening hours before dawn breaks provide the easiest susceptibility for pedestrian fatalities, potentially huge auto insurance premium hikes, and damned-near extortion level costs for car repairs. If the driver a party person, the first is a crap shoot. The second depends on victim, injuries sustained. The third unavoidable.

Unless the victim some sack of chronic homeless.

Hit and runs occur with high frequency in Las Vegas. High, not alarming as would be considered elsewhere. One might blame lawlessness and indifference. But a more apt reason is the city’s transient nature.

There’s scant community and even lighter attachment in Las Vegas than in other American cities. A good portion of Las Vegas residents are akin to long-term visitors than people seeking to establish some kind of permanence. They’re just cycling through the Big Mayberry. Looking to exploit what they can or themselves being exploited.

The above is seen in their attitudes, reflected through their interactions.

Colliding with an apparent upstanding citizen could be enough to trigger a proper response from whoever behind the steering wheel. Or maybe not if the driver already burdened with unpaid tickets, a suspended license, warrants, and an expired registration. That last means no insurance. So, any kind of accident requiring police response would exponentially raise the perils previously accrued. Since there’s no shortage of nominally employed Las Vegas residents barely sustaining themselves on either side of the margin, hightailing from an accident scene in hopes of eluding surely worse looks like a panicky though good choice.

The same collision with a vagrant, though, could shake equations which expect accountable results.

As extensive as homelessness has become in our United States, just casual observation here in Las Vegas could liken the dilemma to Third World misery. Visitors confining themselves to the city’s tourist corridors are spared the worst sights. Glimpses? Despite the authorities’ best efforts of “sanitizing,” occasionally. The full-blown human wretchedness we residents can’t avoid? Nope.

Mental disconnects exacerbated by drugs and now torrid heat further tilt the imbalances of those afflicted. Seeing many of them can make one wonder if they were ever in any stable orbit before utterly detaching themselves from reality.

Admittedly the tormented need help. But this is Nevada. So shitbags get scorn. Or reap indifference. Heaps of both because they’ve completely given up on at least the pretense of living within any bounds of a civil society. They’re not outliers, but grimy skylarks who often flit their ways into calamity.

And these two-legged shitbirds don’t adhere to sidewalks or marked crossings. They also disregard the impact of 3000 speeding pounds of metal against a human body.

Sometimes when I spy police investigating an occurrence that’s reduced Las Vegas’ most marginal population by at least one, I wonder how much of the official show is simply exercise. And it is an exercise because the death vehicle has long flown while whatever witnesses can only attest to after the fact.

Measurements and calculations are always meticulous, as each should be. (Or in a contrarian view, lengthy and therefore needlessly inconveniencing.) Practice more or less for inevitable incidents involving victims who had contributed or were contributing or could’ve contributed.

Additions, not those who became annoyances.