This one’s dedicated to Alexandra, who reminded me how much I hate this.
So, I’m walking in Berkeley, trying to get to class with some semblance of punctuality, when I get stuck behind that impenetrable wall of pure pedestrian evil–that group that walks side by side.
Five people. Next to each other. On the narrow sidewalk. Just chattin’.
I hate them consistently–no matter where they are, where they’re going, or what they’re doing (unless they’re elderly. I’m not a monster.). I hate them because if I’m walking behind them, I get stuck going whatever inevitably slow-ass pace they can handle that afternoon and I can’t go around because they take up ALL THE SPACE.
But I hate them even more when they’re walking towards me.
Here’s the thing: I think there’s an unspoken agreement most pedestrians seem to understand. Two people walking side-by-side on the average American sidewalk is fine (I can’t speak for Europe. It’s a no-man’s-land where anything goes). Anything more than two means one of them is walking into oncoming (pedestrian) traffic.
So, when I’m out and see these imbeciles on the end of the row barrelling down the sidewalk like a fucking snow plow, making oncoming pedestrians have to shrink to the side to make way for them like they’re the fucking royal entourage, I do the one thing I do best–brace my shoulder and shove. Continue reading →
I walk like I drive. Before veering off my path, I take a quick glance to make sure I’m not cutting anyone off. I try to keep up with the flow of traffic, though sometimes (just like when I drive), I have to pass people whose pace is so leisurely I can’t tell if they’re moving slowly or just standing still and letting the Earth revolve under their feet (or as Jayne would exclaim, “Sure, by all means, move at a glacial pace!” She gets me). But most of all, when I need to stop, I slow down and pull to the side–that is, find a place out of the way where I can stop and tie my shoes, or check out my phone, or adjust the strap on my propeller hat.
So my biggest pedestrian pet peeve is when people on a busy thoroughfare just stop abruptly. If a car were to do that on a freeway or even on a busy street, there’d be a massive pile-up or a collision. The same rule applies to foot traffic.
Here’s a story to explain this particular rage. A couple of years ago, I was at Disneyland (I’d never gone as a kid, was skeptical as a teenager, and was finally convinced to go. And yes, it is the most magical place on Earth). We were coming out of some show (sorry, I don’t know all the proper nomenclature yet. Give it a few more visits) and we were just one huge crowd of people filing through a narrow corridor to get out. In typical crowd behavior, we were all pretty close to one another. Suddenly, the high school-age girl with massively preppy pigtails in front of me just stops dead in her tracks and decides to take a sip from her water bottle. Fortunately, I was paying attention to where I was going, so I narrowly managed to avoid her (without bumping into her and causing all that water to splash in her face). But her stupidity, stopping suddenly and blocking the exit in a giant crowd, made me exclaim, “Yes, that is an excellent place to stop!”