Imagine the situation: You, a mild-mannered pedestrian in an urban environment, arrives at a busy intersection. A savvy civilian, you cross this street often and know that if the “cross” button is not pressed, you will have to wait for another long cycle. Late for class, this might make the difference between that awesome seat and the one next to that one person who asks way too many questions.
This particular day you arrive at said crosswalk, and there’s someone already by the button. They were there before you could see it, and you aren’t sure if they pressed it. They’re close enough to perhaps claim ownership and say “hey world, not only am I aware of this button, I depressed it” but far enough away to also possibly say “I have no idea this button exists and I’m too stupid to look for one in case it exists on this particular sidewalk.”
What do you do?
The average Seattleite, fully realizing that he or she lives in the passive-aggressive capital of the world, is stumped. Should they go ahead and press the button again, even though the possible-button-depressor is most likely watching and would think the following: “gee, I’m personally insulted that this fellow Seattleite thinks I am too stupid to know that I need to press this button. I hope they are beaten up by the SPD.”
This is clearly not an optimal solution, and we will not press the button because of this judgment. We would rather be shot in the jaw by random street punks than press that button. And don’t even think “you know, I could just ask them.” I suspect if a conversation actually starts because of this situation, a pack of ravenous dragons will rip my head off.
Instead of risking judgement from total strangers, we will stand there and hope light turns to “walk.” We will ditfully watch to see what happens, and only, ONLY, if the light does not change to walk when we know it should, will we possibly consider pressing the button and perhaps recieve unspoken attacks from that stranger.
But I’d probably just cross the street and press the button there.