The steady stream of downtown traffic trickling north on 10th Avenue stopped at the red light on Columbia. Across the intersection from the pickup and van stopped first in the line of traffic, a slight man and his quad walking cane stepped off the curb into the crosswalk like a slow-moving drain.
Though his right foot skimmed the asphalt in tempo with other pedestrians, his left foot resisted a lift from the pavement, defied resting a step ahead and required re-booting several times before it would allow the weight required to take the next step. The man was a third of the way across the street when the light turned green, signaling the van and pickup to proceed. Neither vehicle moved. The drivers made no eye contact to confirm some sort of covenant; they just sat behind the white line waiting for the man to cross the street.
The man, head down, worked hard to move his unmanageable left foot, which grew more unruly with each step. By midway into the crosswalk, it appeared as though the foot had given up any forward movement and the man shifted his strategy to one of moving his body around the foot planted in short bursts, in order to gain some distance. The light turned red again and the man continued to coax his foot to behave and move forward. A driver a few cars behind the lead vehicles honked once. The lead drivers ignored the blast.
The light turned green and the two vehicles remained still; step, attempted step, re-boot, re-boot, re-boot, traverse, move a few inches forward. The small man grew smaller with each effort ahead as the light turned red. Four long steps from the curb he denied an offer of help from a young woman walking his direction. Two long steps to the curb, the man arrived safely in the parking zone as the light turned green. The van and the pickup led the waiting traffic slowly through the intersection continuing north on 10th Avenue past the man stepping slowly onto the curb.