“Urban cattle”. the phrase I coined, was accepted by the Urban Dictionary (urbandictionary.com). I submitted it because it amused a friend from back in the day, now safely living in California, but never been to Latvia, nor even Latvian. Is the dictionary listing the reason they seem to be propagating, increasing in numbers here in Riga?
They were out in force on the weekend, along a major thoroughfare, Brīvības, which is a very wide boulevard for most of its length. Probably, therefore, a great place for urban cattle to wander out, stand on the white center line, oblivious to traffic or to meander across perhaps 50 meters from a legitimate pedestrian crossing.
At real pedestrian crossings, such as the one by the Riga Central Station, said to be the busiest in the Baltic area, the urban cattle mingle with the ordinary pedestrians, who watch and wait for a countdown indicator. For this subspecies of nimble urban cattle, any number below minus 10 is a signal to jump the curb. With red-light running a very commonplace event, never mind racing on yellow, it is a wonder that I haven’t seen any urban cattle taken out.
The nimble ones, I have noticed, are young and usually look spaced on some cocktail of addictive substances. With a loping gait and eyes watching some chemical cartoon version of the reality around them, they set off, oblivious to blaring horns as cars swerve around them. I mean, Lonja the urla or his Latvian counterpart (can’t tell cause the cattle don’t speak very much) are on the move, the deck is rolling and it is another day of solvent sniffarama or whatever they are into.
Then there is old Zonko the geezer, who crosses and wades into a line of cars, so that he is hidden from the next lane, where folks aiming to do a right turn only can’t see him. Surprise!
Further out of town, we see Dancin’ Dan, who is traipsing, fucked up on rotgut, along the center line, waving at some cars, shit eating grin on his face. I still wait for the return of Meatface the mobile phone man, but maybe he has been taken out, though hitting him with a vehicle would do as much damage as whacking a real, and not so small cow. Not recommended.
Somewhere closer to the Alfa shopping mall, the airhead teeny boppers start appearing, also traipsing or teetering on the white center line, but unlike Dan, sober and stupid as a fencepost as Latvians would say. Favorite meandering area for these urban cattle is also within sight of an elevated walkway where you can cross the street any time you want.
Then there are the tourist cattle, more often than not Swedish, lumbering along the sidewalk or crossing the street with technical correctness, but unaware that this is not fucking Stockholm, folks. They don’t stop -- the cars. Maybe they swerve, they may honk and if old sheep-brained Sven and his wife notice, they will live another day with no casts, no crutches.
Back on the sidewalk, the bikes are out in numbers, to them, pedestrians are just slalom poles to be weaved around at high speed. To the bikies, we are all urban cattle.