It is widely known that crossing a road on a red light in Germany leaves you snorted at and again, met with those sparkly blue daggers. Ok not every German has blue eyes and I’m unsure why I began this metaphor of promise shining behind the eyes of the germans. Anyway, the lesser known bringer of awkwardness is the button you press when you want to walk across at the lights. Which in fact, is not a button.
When approaching the lights from the path, you notice the plastic yellow box curved in a crescent shape attached to a metal pole. In the middle is an outlined circle, with three darkly filled out circles inside. Now, this looks as much a pointless bit of decorative engraving as it does a sensor to wave one’s hand across in order to trigger the light to cross the road. Most times I’ve come to the lights, there have been others waiting and it hasn’t been long at all before it’s gone green to cross, so the responsibility has not yet been my own to wonder whether this light “button” needs triggering or if the lights are just naturally alternating to let people walk at intervals.
The time had come to make my own decision, as it was the first moment I would be alone with the yellow box. I self consciously glance around and make eye contact with some stationary cars either side of me. Rookie mistake. I’ve built an audience anticipating my decision as to whether I foolishly press my hand against these circles, or I wait. I place my hands in the pockets of my red blazer and begin a seemingly unsuspicious swivel left and right. Discovering a solution, I swing my elbow in the direction of the button so as to accidentally trigger it… if I’m triggering anything at all. I look up and there are suddenly people the other side who I cannot guarantee will have pressed it themselves. As a result, I’m still unsure whether my slight touch of the box actually then caused the lights to change or not.
Update: I still don’t know.