Dark

Each weekday morning, when I drive my son to school at the ungodly hour of just-the-other-side-of-dawn, we see people engaged in their early morning activity. Early in the school year, there was the woman who walked her dog not far from our house. She wore clothes the color of dusk as she walked her dusky shadow of a dog along the line on the road that separates the travel lane from the shoulder. One day, as she and her dog were crossing the street, their shapes emerged from the darkness just in time for me to swerve to avoid them.

Farther along on our trip, there was the man who walked to work in the early morning murkiness. His walk was brisk, and he bent slightly under the weight of a small backpack. As the temperature dropped, his pace began to quicken, and he always walked with his back to the traffic, unaware of the dangers. When it was raining or snowing or foggy in the pre-dawn, I would notice his form just beyond the edge of my car as I drove by.

More recently, perhaps because we have changed our departure time by a few minutes, we have seen one of my son’s friends standing outside his house waiting for his bus. We always look for him as we approach, but some mornings, we cannot tell if he is standing by the side of the road until the very last minute. Occasionally, it is only after we pass him that we notice his form lurking by the mailbox.

We started to think of ways to make this young man more visible in the dark. My son and I thought of light up clothing, but finally decided on a flashing Christmas necklace that looks like a string of lights. What does the friend think of this idea? He went along with it. He even discovered that the necklace had three different light settings. The one morning that my son didn’t go to school early, he wore it, and we didn’t get to see if it would work as we hoped.

Now (a day later), I hear the necklace broke. Its quality $3.54 construction couldn’t hold up to the morning routine of a 16 year old. We are looking to replace it before the holiday season is over and these necklaces are long gone. I definitely think we’ll be able to see him much better with the necklace.

While the necklace is a fun way to deal with this issue, our morning entertainment began as a simple lesson in visibility. For drivers young and old, the pale dark on the ends of the day is a tough time. And it is tough for pedestrians, as well. My son, a new driver, has had a great lesson in how challenging the dark hours can be. Being mindful of one’s clothing, and wearing bright colors (reflective or lighted!) can make a huge difference—for all parties involved.

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