Standing at the busy intersection a young woman in her mid-twenties watched the light turn red out of the corner of her eye. When the cars started into the intersection, she did a quick survey to make sure there were no cars in the right-hand-turn lane. Although the light facing her direction was still red and the pixellated amber hand beckoned her to hold her place, she started out into the intersection, knowing the way was clear.
A little man watched from the corner as she strode confidently into the street with head held high and sucked in his breath. When the walking man appeared on the traffic signal he dashed across the street to catch up with her.
"Excuse me! Excuse me miss!" She kept walking, either ignoring him or not realizing she was the miss he was addressing. Meeting her stride, he tried to get her attention again. This time she turned.
"Why did you do that?"
"I'm sorry?" she asked, puzzled at this odd little man who was attempting to keep up and doing a not-so-good job at it.
"The light. It hadn't changed. But you went anyway. Why? Are you in a hurry?"
She stopped in her tracks. This was a bizarre line of questioning indeed. Shrugging, she replied "Well, the way was clear. So I decided to go."
The little man furrowed his brow and shook his head. "No, no," he said, clearly troubled. "The light had not changed. You can't go if the light hasn't changed. That's the rules."
She looked at him for a long moment before she replied. "That light is there for the our protection. But as people, we are able to make decisions, to gauge risk and to decide, ultimately whether we walk, or we don't walk. Sometimes it's necessary to break rules, even small ones, to remind us even for a split second of our free will. Of our agency over our own bodies and minds."
He looked around as he pondered her words, but when he turned again, she was already down the street.