The Flashing Red Light

You got on Facebook, read your uncle’s weird anti-whatever post, got mad, went to the website, started signing petitions with reckless abandon and now you’re looking at this traffic light. You’re vulnerable. You’re hurting. You’re looking for something to turn to.

But trust me, this flashing redlight is not it.

This traffic light is broken. You cannot fix it, no matter how hard you try. When your girls (people you got together with to sign petitions) tell you to steer clear because something is not right with that big hunk of machinery, you need to listen. For a fleeting second this traffic light is bright. Beautiful. In the boxed picture on your screen, you can see a future within its big red pulsing orb (the future being you would stop for 30 seconds so you can text before the light turns green again). Be wary, because as quickly as this traffic light made you feel safe enough to pull out into the intersection, you know it’ll flash off, allowing you to be hit by a Ford Ram.

What I’m trying to say is, this traffic light will cheat on you.

The One Attached to a Wire, Flying Over the Intersection

She’s young. She’s beautiful. She’s suspended in mid-air without a care in the world. She’s your manic pixie dream light. And she’s the only one differentiating you from the thousands of tiny evil robots vying for a chance to get their grubby robot fingers on a petition to bring water to rural Africa. Her bulbs are brighter, her hair is dyed (someone spray-painted FTP on her) and, though she is a picture, you can tell she never waits longer than a second after the walking man turns to a red “stop” hand to swap her bulb from red to green. She’s wild.

Her only role here is to make you, the clicker and protagonist, a better person. She’s actually extremely effective at this, too. Once you identify her as a traffic light, you can fully move on with your life. And there she’ll wait…. suspended in the air. Waiting for the next petitioner to look her way.

The Old Time-y One

Unfortunately, if you are under 5’4”, hot, and happen to come across this traffic light and you click on it in order to prove that you are not a robot, it will have access to your DMs and will NOT be afraid to slide into them. This traffic light will offer all sorts of things: to pay off your student loans (by falling on you so you can win a lawsuit against the city), give you an allowance (let you run four red lights per month), or gift you an expensive pair of shoes (not so much “expensive” as they are “wrapped around hanging wire because some kid threw them up there,” but still—they’re yours nonetheless).

The caveat to this, of course, is that you must travel to the city in which your hot, older traffic light dwells. Worth it only if you’re in a bind or want to have sex with something rusty.

The Light Grounded on the Side of the Road

Picture this: you come across this intersection on your laptop screen. It’s going to be a routine stop. Click a few traffic lights, put your name down to fight some racial injustices, bing bang boom—you’re in you're out. But when you get to this intersection page, there’s this stoplight…. Not everyone notices it because it’s off to the side, not hanging over the intersection like the flashing red light or anything.

But you see it—oh you see it. It’s petting a dog (a dog is peeing at its base). You get nervous. Should I approach it? Would I bother it with a click from my cursor? It looks so peaceful there. But you’re brave, so you do. The surrounding box lights up. You’ve hit it off.

You spend the rest of your time on the “Are You a Robot” page laughing (alone in your room), and wondering what it would be like if you two could just… get away from it all. It all, of course, being the hellscape of this year for you and for the traffic light, it’s the tiny computer screen in which it’s trapped.

You never see the traffic light again, because it’s actually in Minnesota and you’d never go there. But you think about it all the time and hope that one day it will come across your screen while you’re signing another petition to make your congressperson feel bad.