Anyone who has spent any amount of time walking about our city, has realized that being a pedestrian in Montréal is an artform. Our drivers are known to be a little distracted while trying to avoid blowing a tire on potholes, frantically trying to make the orange light to avoid the rage-inducing fact that they can’t turn right on red, and at times even a bit aggressive after hours of nonsensical traffic, one-way streets and trying to find parking. Mixing these elements with the standard Montréal personalities behind the wheel, and you've got a show!
To handle the craziness, it’s essential that our pedestrians have a thick skin and keep their heads up (partially to stay aware - but mainly to enjoy the calamity) -- and with summer soon upon us, we decided to create a list of the 10 Drivers That Pedestrians Will Encounter In Montreal.
How many have you already seen this year?
1. The Chronic Honker
We can easily start here. Chronic Honkers can be found ruining pedestrian's commutes all over the city (because there are very few sounds that suck more than listening to a car wail while you’re standing right next to it). We can never be sure exactly what they’re honking about, or what their interpretation of the *honk* even means; but it is most commonly seen in situations where honking changes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Like very predictable and uncontrollable traffic during rush hour, for example. However, this fact won’t stop them from laying on it and playing the song of their people for us on the reg. Maybe one day they will hear our plea to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP, but until then; may you should just wear headphones?
2. The Person Who Keeps Inching Towards You, Thinking It Will Somehow Speed You Up
We all know this a$$hole. You arrive at a crosswalk at the same time as the vehicle. They now must wait for you to cross. You’re aware they’re waiting and you do your best (before actually running) to get where you need to go. For many, this is all they would ask from you; but for this jerk, your best just isn’t good enough. They start inching towards you, hoping to trigger some form of instinctual stress response to get your pace going to save those critical 3 seconds of their life. Now, you feel obligated to break into a light jog; but don’t. Next time, just smile and wave and test that theory that they’re also probably a Chronic Honker.
3. The Person Who Stops On Crosswalks At Red Lights
Sometimes when this happens, I actually feel bad for the driver. They are clearly not from Montreal. They tried to pass and got caught in a red light. Their skin is crawling because they know they look like an idiot. That’s fine, because they get it. However, more times than not, you will find people just hanging out there like life has never been better. As if the glares of pure judgement passing are just the bright and shining faces of Les Montréalais. “Throw it in park chérie, this is where we should wait!”. WHY? JUST, WHY? No words.
4. The Car Full Of Cat Callers
We’ve all been there. Walking home as the sun is setting, then you see the Cat Callers coming your way. They most often come in the form of a 2003 Blue Honda Civic full of bros, or a limousine hauling a bachelorette party (protip). They haven’t even seen you yet, and you know it’s coming. You immediately become hyper-aware of what you’re wearing and pretend you’re absolutely fascinated with the sidewalk while wondering what the hell you should do with your hands. When the inevitable whistles and ‘hé bébé’s hit, just know you’re awesome own that shit (even though you will pretend you somehow heard none of it). Also, immediately call your friend. That always helps.
5. The Person Who Insists On Holding Up Traffic And Letting You Pass, Even When You’re Perfectly Fine Waiting
This driver is the equivalent of the person who holds the door for you when you’re clearly more than 10 seconds away. You try to wave them off, letting them know you’re a-okay without their help; but the kind-hearted Canadian in them won’t take 'no' for an answer. After you’ve completed your awkward hokey-pokey of uncertainty while being honked at for holding up traffic on Ste. Catherine and Guy simultaneously, you just break into a jog to make it all stop. Followed by the next 5 minutes of your commute spent wondering to yourself how stupid you just looked. Answer: you looked pretty stupid, but it wasn’t your fault.
6. The One Who Puts The Pedal To The Metal Because They See You Jaywalking In The Abyss And They Want Justice
This gem is a classic, and is something that I have never seen off the island of Montréal. Doesn’t matter how far you are from them, if they can see you; they will threaten your life for this heinous crime you’ve just committed. I have always wondered what would happen if they actually caught up with me. Schrödinger would probably argue that they’re simultaneously vicious murderers and harmless whistleblowers of minor traffic delinquencies until I risk my life to find out. What's your theory?
7. The One Who Can’t Put Their Phone Down
Keep your head up to forever avoid these winners. If you wondering why someone is looking down at their lap, it’s probably not because there’s a new-age device that allows them to be extra aware of their surroundings down there. It’s because they’re texting, searching for 'new poutine restaurants' near them, checking Habs stats, etc. with no consideration of how insanely dangerous and reckless they’re being. They will likely be caught eventually, but until then -- look out!
Photo cred - Heather
8. The One Who Tries To Confront You Via Miming Gestures
You were pondering the meaning of life, and you accidently starting crossing when you had a red light. You fvcked up, but you learned your lesson and you’re paying attention now. However, now you’ve pissed someone off, and a simple hand up and “Sorry” isn’t going to cut it. Now they need to take time out of everyone's day to personally tell you how much you suck. However, they’re not going to roll down the window and talk to you like an adult. No, no, no... Instead, they’re going to flip out (in both official languages) and throw angry gestures your way while being contained in the comfort and safety of their car so they can simultaniously listen to the game, hold up traffic and explain why you're a d*ck. What’s fun about this is? The translation is up to you! “What was that? You think I’m awesome and look like Scarlett Johansson? Why, thank you generous stranger!”.
9. The Tourist Asking For Directions
You saw this person driving up to the group ahead of you, and you noticed the [insert one of the 48 states within continental U.S.] plate. You pray the person ahead of you A). speaks English and B). can offer the help needed. You had somewhere to be 10 minutes ago, and have literally no time for this. However, The Tourist can sense when you’re late, and they will ask you for detailed instructions on how to get to the Old Port and a list of restaurant recommendations. If you’re feeling generous, do your best to explain. If not, have your most convincing “Desolée, je ne parle pas anglais” ready and pray they don’t speak French while you look down and haul ass.
10. The Biker Who Thinks They're A Car
Many Montréal pedestrians feel a sense of likeness with their socially responsible commuter counterparts, the bikers. However, this can be very much a false sense of security, because oftentimes, the biker believes they’re actually a car and will not hesitate to give you a reality check. They will take on traits 1-9, while also expecting the same benefits of being a pedestrian. Roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, ...pretty much all of de Maisonneuve; it’s their turf, and don't you forget it! Our recommendation: step aside and let ‘em through (and if they're riding a Bixi, get as far away as possible), because getting in a confrontation with a Montréaler bike commuter is much scarier than a driver (translations are less subjective, in our experience).
What other drivers have you seen around Montreal?