New Yorkers Keep Pushing Useless Traffic Light Buttons
from the even-dogs-learn... dept
Growing up in NY, I remember someone telling me very early on that the buttons on street corners to change lights didn't work. We used to call them "idiot buttons", because only idiots would bother to push them (and, indeed, we used to laugh at those who bothered). I was told (and believed) that they were only there to make people feel as if they had some control over the situation. Watching people press the buttons and seeing nothing happen supported this belief. However, since moving out of New York, I eventually learned that street crossing buttons elsewhere (such as here in California) do seem to work just fine. At this point, I'm so used to using them again that I'd pretty much forgotten the rumor that the ones in NY didn't work - and assumed that I'd been tricked as a kid. However, it turns out whoever told me that was completely right. The vast majority of street corner buttons don't work in New York. They're relics of a different age when they were more necessary. Most have been disconnected, but left in place because it would be too expensive to either connect them or remove them. And, still, the people push. Some are surprised that the buttons don't work, but many keep pushing, just out of habit. Of course, some of the buttons do work - so you get a casino-effect, where people will probably keep pushing on the off-chance that this time the button will work.