By Cathy Luchetti
The light was red. Then it turned green. All seemed normal at the corner of College and Claremont in North Oakland until the traffic light suddenly blared, “Walk Like a Dog!” So loud and so specific it startled me.
Most pedestrians seemed oblivious, but several seemed as amused as I was at what seemed like a joke. I waited to hear someone mock-bark, but no one did.
Since I live in the Rockridge area, this light is now on my daily route. I hear it every time I go to Cole Coffee, or Safeway, or any of my usual walking destinations, and the utter absurdity of the command always makes me laugh. Obviously, if this traffic light is like all other lights, it is trying to say “walk light is on,” but misspeaks, due to ridiculously garbled wiring.
But sometimes in God’s world “ridiculous” can take on another meaning. It can mean opportunity, or slow down, or take another look, or better, just ponder on me for a while, which is what I discovered when I crossed one day and stopped at the Bank of America. The bank has a guard who patrols slowly back and forth in front of the building. He is about 10-feet away from this crazed stoplight, and must hear “walk like a dog” at least a thousand times a day. So I asked him, if for no other reason than to make sure it’s not my imagination. Did he hear what I did?
“It is making me crazy,” he admitted, then began to laugh. We both laughed. We stood there, rocking with giggles until he finally had to sober up and look official. Then we talked. And from then on, every day, I stop and we chat. I found out about his life, his family, and a bit about his dreams and hopes. He was someone I would never have gotten to know otherwise, but there we were sharing a secret laugh together as the Rockridge population, mostly oblivious, continued to cross the street.
I wish I could say—in that perfect way that some stories end—that I delved into his beliefs and ministered to him and he accepted Christ on that corner to the accompanying sound of the traffic light that would then cry out, “Walk With God!” That, so far, is not the case. But what has happened is a perfectly good relationship with a stranger who is turning into a friend that, over time, may or may not blossom into the sharing of faith, but which feels in some way holy to me. ©