Town Square

Post a New Topic

Silly little incident downtown tonight

Original post made by Anon., Crescent Park, on Oct 28, 2011

My girlfriend and I were walking home tonight from the Guild theater along Emerson passing the intersection of Hamilton and Emerson when a car moving on Emerson away from University stopped a bit into the crosswalk, not really blocking it, and not moving when anyone was actually in the intersection. A mistake I think every one of us makes several times in our lives and must happen a million times a day every day somewhere.

A young man walking with his friend crossing on Hamilton away from University on the Palo Alto Creamery side of the street was slightly put out in having to walk around the front of the car that was slightly in the crosswalk.

Out of the blue the pedestrian slapped the palm of his hand down on the hood of the car and everyone in range looked over as I suppose he thought he was punishing the driver of the car who had come to a stop in the crosswalk.

The driver of the car, also a young man, jumped out of the car and the two began yelling at each other. To me, the driver had a point that you do not slap and perhaps damage someone's car in that way - for many reasons - and even if he had been wrong or fully blocking the crosswalk. But how useful is it to make a point to probably drunk rebellious kid out on Friday night? Thankfully no blows were landed as the two faced each other down disturbing the peace of everyone enjoying a Friday night in Palo Alto by yelling at each other and telling each other off and then continued on their ways.

As my girlfriend and I continued walking down Emerson we noticed the car-slapper and his buddy were behind us and the car-slapper was going on like he was a lawyer about how it was illegal that the car had invaded his space and he felt he was assaulted and had a right to react, blathering the whole way down to the small next corner past Beppos where he had parked his car. We walked on enjoying the rest of the now quiet peaceful night shaking our heads. Kids these days.

It was so pointless and stupid and in these kinds of stupid incidents sometimes there is a escalation that leads to someone getting hurt or even killed. It's stupid and I and most likely everyone else in the area that witnessed that don't want to see it. I know it is fashionable for psychiatrists to tell us that young people's brains are not fully formed and they have underdeveloped super-egos and so have problems with impulse control - but can people just calm down and mellow out a little and not sweat the small stuff, because almost all of it is really small stuff?

Comments (30)

Like this comment
Posted by Violence
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2011 at 1:00 am

To be precise, the tendency to escalate conflict is not by "people" but by men.
Turning a perceived insult into a fight is a man's way of dealing with verbal unpleasantness. Don't include women in this stupidity.

Like this comment
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 29, 2011 at 6:09 am

OMG Violence, I guess the woman who got out of her car and tired to slap me on University last year was a man in Drag!!! I guess I pushed her too far when I briefly flashed my horn as she sat texting at a red light. She erupted and charged me. I got my window up as she was reaching in trying to slap at me, all the while spouting sailor-esque cursing. The most violent encounter on the road I've ever experienced...and it was a woman, so lets not put men in black and women in demure pink on this issue. Ratial stereotypes are rasist as are those who make them. Gender stereotypes are sexist as are those who who make them. Is there any issue out there that doeesn't pit 1/2 of the population against the other??? I vote for friendly society without pointing a finger of blame at an entire gender. YAH Rational thinking!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2011 at 6:47 am

I think people should stop taking their cars so seriously. Gee whiz, did the guy think his car was some kind of sacred object? As far as I know, "touching a car" is not a crime yet -- at least I hope so. Who cares? Unless it was something cool, like a Tesla ;-)

Like this comment
Posted by Location! Location!!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

This guy should slap a car like he did - in East Palo Alto.

He can then prove himself to be a lawyer.

Like this comment
Posted by well
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2011 at 8:37 am

well she was texting while driving, illegal.

you honked your horn to move traffic, illegal.

seems like everyone responding in a tit for tat way.

Palo Alto is a lot about, people actng like they are more important than the other. She was just coming to your car to inform you that her time more important than yours.

Like this comment
Posted by well
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

here, "Wrong"

Web Link

I found the vehicle code section that applies for you. Just in case.
I bet she was just going to inform you that what you did was illegal, you just misinterpreted her intent. So dont break the law next time. ;-)

btw, I think you missed the message of the original post as well by citing your example. Sounds like a second example of the same thing. One could even argue that my response to you is a 3rd example.

Like this comment
Posted by Perspective
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 29, 2011 at 10:13 am

Well, well:

That vehicle code section is interesting; didn't know that. I'm sure you're right about the texting woman--she knew her vehicle code and was just going to point out the error of his ways to Wrong. If he just hadn't provoked her by rolling up the window...

But to put it in perspective, what she did was attempted assault and battery. Not quite the same level as suggesting with a horn beep that some somnolent driver pay attention to the green light. I suppose you'd say that Wrong caused the further delay at the light, as well as the jump in violence?

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

The best part of this whole thing is that is the car slapper was drunk, as OP suspects, that he got into his car as OP suggests & drove that way.

Like this comment
Posted by Ainsley Mitchell
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

As a visitor to your town in September I witnessed a similar incident, fortunately no blows other than verbal ones were exchanged. But as your correspondent has said the teenagers of today think they know it all. Something that we suffer from as well,here in Scotland.
Incidently you have a beautiful town which left a positive want to return to Palo Alto.

All the very best to all of your readers.

Ainsley Mitchell. Aberdeen. Scotland.

Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

Use of horn:
When I am in a left turn lane, and the arrow turns green, and the person in front of me makes no attempt to move for 15 seconds or so, they are going to get a small "Wake up sleepy" toot from my horn. (I am always gratified by the head jerking up, the shoulder working as the arm puts the car in gear, and the prompt chagrined scooting, though it ticks me off that they usually make it through the light while I get stuck behind it for another turn.)

Incident last night:
Your are right about cars stopping in the crosswalk, happens all the time, everyone seems to do it at one time or another, and I try not to but sometimes fail. I consider it a small infraction that I forgive in others because I am also guilty.

Bigger rule: Don't touch other people or people's property. Unless you know and are on friendly terms, keep your hands, feet, baseball bats, and other things away from other people's things. I imagine the penalty for violating this is a bit bigger than for partially blocking a crosswalk.

Another bigger rule I like to follow: Don't escallate a situation if you don't need to. The slapper had already demonstrated a certain disconnect, I would not have wanted to test his disconnect by confronting him, it can get dangerous.

Another rule I follow: I try not to quickly assume that I have all the rights in the world and that someone else deserves my wrath for a small infraction. I figure that if I am forgiving of others it will be easier for them to be forgiving of me, and for ME to be forgiving of me.

The blocking of the crosswalk should have been a non-issue. The guy slapping the car was wrong, regardless of his loud excuses and self-rightous attitude. Getting out of the car to confront him was dangerous and un-necessary. Overall, lack of rational behavior by both is a specacle. I have learnd that oyu never look intelligent when you argue with an idiot.

Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Driving around here is pretty stressful lately - don't know why, there seems to be more rudeness, more rushing, more "incidents" like the one OP described. Personally, I dislike drivers texting while they drive/swerve OR ignore traffic signals.
fyi, a trouble spot:
be really careful when entering PA on University (from Stanford side) on the underpass, which tends to be filled with cars...I have learned some drivers decide they don't like their lane and very abruptly change without warning/signalling ...this resulted in my almost hitting someone who suddenly veered in front of me and caused my car to stall as I slammed on the was breathtaking, completely unexpected move by this dude...just realize that people don't turn their heads to LOOK out for other cars, even if they are merging, changing lanes, etc. so be cautious. I always thought I was pretty cautious; now I am MORE cautious.

Like this comment
Posted by EyeRoll
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm

It's interesting how these stories about driving always generate a large debate with strong opinions. I think it stems from the car culture in this state. So many Californians really identify with their cars. They certainly buy nice ones and then adorn them with little decals that reflect their personality (where do they get those stick figure families and sea turtle decals?). In New York, this kind of encounter is par for the course in crosswalks. One bams the hood, yells "I'm walking here!" and moves on.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Just like the classic Midnight Cowboy scene: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Well
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2011 at 11:51 pm


just as long as you know you are risking a ticket. ;-)

Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 30, 2011 at 12:29 am

Hahaha, well, to ne honest, I didn't realize I was risking a ticket, but I don't really care. My toot is not "laying on the horn", but rather about as fast and short a toot as I can give, just a tap.

I will honk longer and louder for a "honk if" sign with a cause I support (not often). My loudest and longest horn use is reserved for the suicidal idiots that apparently try to get me to ram them with an extreemly ill-timed no-warning lane change on the freeway. Sounds like some of those guys migrate to the University underpass. It is scarier at freeway speeds though.

Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 30, 2011 at 6:10 am

One of the most amazing things about cars in Palo Alto is that about 75 percent of them were built without turn signal capability.

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 30, 2011 at 6:24 am

re: Uni underpass. The last minute lane changes are typically due to people who don't pay attention to the road signs and then suddenly find that they are in the right hand turn only lane (onto High). Happens all the time.

Like this comment
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 30, 2011 at 6:59 am

I like how "well" completely ignored the main part about the WOMAN escalating a minor situation into a violent attack, and tried to shift the blame on someone who flashed their horn at an inattentive driver...Classic. As long as we all understand that the original stament that road rage was a man's issue, was sexist drivel, its all goood. Drive safe and remember, the other guy is always at fault...right?

Like this comment
Posted by well
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

I did not ignore it. Just pointing out that your escalation led to her escalation. Neither of you behaved well that day just like the original post. I really did not expect you to see the similarity or the humor in it. ;-) Just know that the horn is not a legal "excuse me" button and as you have discovered you can annoy people when use it that way.

oh if if it make you feel any better, I agree she was more wrong the you were, wrong and yes you did provide a fine example of a female hot head, so you made your point.

Like this comment
Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Oct 30, 2011 at 9:01 am

Well, you are still ignoring the first comment in the thread. That is why Wrong posted in the first place. I've seen women react with road rage too. It is not just men.

Like this comment
Posted by well
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

oh I know why he posted, but in posting he provided another example of a "silly incident" and that was my point which you are ignoring. ;-)

Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

insightful observation. i think there's a club of them that meets daily at Terman Middle School. the crossing guards should be more aware of this so the poor people coming out of the neighborhood who want to turn left onto arastradero don't have to wait unnecessarily through light after light while the people with the cars built without turn signals make their lefts onto Arastradero.

i finally just assumed no one every went straight at that intersection and almost got beaned by the one person I have ever seen not turn there. which is one more person than has ever had a turn signal coming out of the school. (gotta be a club of some sort)

Like this comment
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I <3 that crossing guard at Terman...he is ON his job, he continually is waving his arms and shouting to the kids ~who ~for some reason~ forget to WALK their bikes across Arastradero or just plain ignores the traffic and decides to walk when he/she is completely consumed in thoughts or texting..... The kids perk up and pay attention to this man, he does more than just walk with them with his STOP sign when driving a point home........Hopefully the Terman kids will know the rules of the road a lot faster as they get their daily reminders on traffic patrol behavior!!!

Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 31, 2011 at 12:23 am

On behalf of the kids, I appreciate the crossing guards, that's for sure!

I don't think the kids will learn the rules of the road, as I have never seen a high school bicyclist stop for a stop sign yet, even when there are cars and pedestrians around. So, I'm glad for the crossing guards, even if the kids don't understand how important they are.

Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2011 at 10:45 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Ah, the ENTITLEMENT GENERATION is showing their behavior these days.

Look at the big picture. You will find that many of today's youth are recreating the 60s and 70s.....BUT AT A PERSONAL LEVEL and without the mellowing effect of MJ and other illegal substances.

Liquor and cigs are the only leagal drug these days. Thanks for the WOD ( heavy sarcasm ).

When booze and attitude combine, you get instances like this...

In earlier times, people just unlatch the hood and raised it when a driver doesn't stop properly at a crosswalk.

Like this comment
Posted by Share the road politely and safely
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2011 at 11:15 am

Road users...Let's share the road politely and safely. It makes a nicer community for all of us.

Thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

>> Posted by Violence, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
>> To be precise, the tendency to escalate conflict is not by "people" but by men.

I think you have a good point, despite the exception to the rule posted in the comment immediately after your comment. Men that that Y chromosome, and that testosterone chemistry that seems to make the reptile brain a bit more close at hand than women.

Most of the crime and war and conflict, but not all by a long shot is caused by men, and human beings are the only species to create major weapons that kill many.

But not all men engage in this kind of violence, and not all women do not, so what do you propose?

For example, say it is happened where the pedestrian lightly tapped on the car and wagged his finger at the driver ... could the driver get mad enough to jump out and protest? Or if he had shot the driver a "look".

For example this kind of thing has happened to me. Like the intersection at University and 101 where people regularly get caught in the intersection past the light turning red ... that is, ending up in some place you do not want to be in traffic. There is not much to do about it, even if you do not want to be there, so coming down like a ton of bricks on someone who is not really guilty per se is pointless. Doing so only shows that the person who complains too loudly is looking to assert themselves for some reason. Could it be ... testosterone? ;-)

Like this comment
Posted by well
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm


"There is not much to do about it"

You realize that being caught in an intersection is also a ticketing offense, so other drivers will be annoyed at you for entering an intersection you could not clear when the light turns red.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Well, "well, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood" ...
yes, I actually do understand that one is not supposed to stop in an
intersection or crosswalk in this case. If we wanted to give tickets
to thousands of people in a day then we only have to go to the
University & 101 intersection and surrounds to see people
running yellow lights, red lights, stopping in the crosswalk and
in the intersection.

I very rarely do this because I pay particular attention to this
situation. I hate it when I am not paying enough attention to
realize that I am not going to make it our of an intersection
or stopped too far forward when I drive ... but people do it,
and they do not always get ticketed for it, so most people
apparently do not avoid it like I know you and I must.

I submit that the answer is not to slap the hoods of their
car when someone ends up stopping in the crosswalk, they
probably did not mean to and no harm has really been done.

To slap the car is akin to treating the human driver like a dog,
and no one likes to be insulted or treated that way and with
certain people escalation is going to happen and the whole
thing is pointless anyway.

Was that your point?

Like this comment
Posted by Welll
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm

It wasn't. My point was some folks don't know that the law is you have to clear the intersection. So it was meant to be informational. Now appears you knew and apparently figure you should get a pass, so there was no value to be gotten from my post.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 4,177 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 954 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 397 views

This time we're not lying. HONEST! No, really!
By Douglas Moran | 4 comments | 396 views

One-on-one time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 378 views