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February 15, 2011 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Scientists confirm what many New Yorkers already know. Sidewalk rage is real.
posted by Ad hominem (309 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
WHY THE FUCK ARE ALL OF YOU TAKING SO LONG TO COMMENT ON THIS GODDAMNIT
posted by Shepherd at 10:30 AM on February 15, 2011 [31 favorites]


We were giving you the right of way Sheperd.
posted by ian1977 at 10:32 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


+h
posted by ian1977 at 10:33 AM on February 15, 2011


We think we've got it rough with the slow walkers....try walking in a city like Delhi where the simple act of attempting to make your way down a street could get you killed or injured at any moment by a non-stop chaos of motorcycles, water buffalo, goats, bicycles, scooters, etc. Sidewalk rage is for the over-privileged (and I freely admit to suffering from it every damn day).
posted by Go Banana at 10:33 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been on both sides of this. Behind a slow walker--infuriating. Reading a book while I'm walking and having other walkers zoom huffily around me (or worse, tailgate)--infuriating. This is why I try to take uncommon paths from A to B that are less populated while only marginally longer.
posted by DU at 10:35 AM on February 15, 2011


On Facebook, there's a group called "I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head" that boasts nearly 15,000 members.

If we're using this as a metric, baby punching disorder is on the rise.
posted by Taft at 10:35 AM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's absurd to try and suggest we NYers have unreasonable anger issues. Imagine if on your commute, the cars ahead of you simply stopped in place for no reason other than to take a picture or look at a map! We're commuting too, but on foot. Step aside and do what you have to do, out of traffic!!
posted by thinkpiece at 10:35 AM on February 15, 2011 [39 favorites]


Keep to the right. If you're moving slow for whatever reason or need to stop, move even further to the right. If you're walking in a group, don't spread out over the whole sidewalk, and for sweet baby Jesus's sake NEVER link arms. WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THAT.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:36 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


This article isn't about sidewalk rage, it's about the Internet, reddit/4chan specifically:

"Ragers' thoughts tend to be overly negative, over-generalized and blown out of proportion, leaving them fuming about how they can't stand the situation"
posted by ChrisHartley at 10:37 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


^seriously.

Plenty of people do things that get in the way of other people, and in very busy areas, it's juts intolerable.

Slow walking? I can deal with that.

Stopping and blocking the passage of lots of people? Unacceptable.

Escalator? Stand right, walk left.

This isn't 'Nam. There are RULES.
posted by entropone at 10:37 AM on February 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


"A lot of us have 'shoulds' in our head," says Dr. Deffenbacher.

AND MINE ARE THE ONLY CORRECT ONES GRARRR
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:38 AM on February 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Please do not stare at your phone or a book while you are walking. Goddamn that is just annoying.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:38 AM on February 15, 2011


I constantly fantasize about slapping people's blackberries and cell phones out of their hands where it makes an amazingly beautiful arc into the street.
posted by spec80 at 10:38 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


> I constantly fantasize about slapping people's blackberries and cell phones out of their hands where it makes an amazingly beautiful arc into the street.

I wish there were roving ninjas that would suddenly come out and kick their phones and then disappear just as quick.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:40 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


An ex of mine used to walk through crowded sidewalks saying "MOOOOOOO" as if everyone else were cattle. It kind of made me want to punch him in the back of the head. Where's the facebook group for that?
posted by phunniemee at 10:40 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale" is victim blaming.

Let me know when *Science* comes with an "I Have No Clue Where I Am, What's Going On Around Me, And How My Inattention Is Affecting Other People Scale."
posted by peeedro at 10:40 AM on February 15, 2011 [32 favorites]


Please do not stare at your phone or a book while you are walking.

Yeah, make sure you stop in your tracks with no warning before doing anything wild like reading on the sidewalk.
posted by carsonb at 10:40 AM on February 15, 2011


i scored a perfect 15 on this scale.

i also don't consider myself friendly with anybody in NYC that doesn't at least score a 10 or so...
posted by wackoacko at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2011


Ironically, I got bashed from behind yesterday as I walked (pretty fast, too) on an otherwise deserted sidewalk toward the spot where my husband picks me up. The woman who hit me just shoved me from the right rear. She was abashed after she did it, muttering something about heading for the train. Very odd considering there was lots of room on the sidewalk on either side of us and I couldn't have been visible in front of her for more than a minute or two.

This reminds me of an incident a few years back when I was driving our car with my husband as passenger and I signaled a lane change to my right. A guy a fair ways back in the lane to our right sped up when he saw my signal, and actually clipped our back bumper as our car completed the lane change. We all pulled over. My husband was so angry I had to make him go stand off by himself while I talked to the other driver. I asked him if he saw my signal. he said yes. I asked him if he understood I had the right of way? He said yes. I asked him what happened. He looked abashed and surprised at himself, and said he didn't know, he just got mad for some reason. He apologized and that was the end of it. (We didn't have any damage, the whole thing was pretty low speed.)

But there you are, people get into this private state of rage and they forget the other people on the road and sidewalk are people too, rather than obstacles to be bashed and defeated.
posted by bearwife at 10:42 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also this thread is making my heart rate rise.
posted by entropone at 10:42 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


You have not experienced sidewalk rage until you've tried to walk down 6th Ave during the Halloween parade.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:43 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please do not stare at your phone or a book while you are walking. Goddamn that is just annoying.

yeah goddam longhairs with all their fancy books and crap are RUINING AMERICA i gotta git 'er done at work
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


My mom's nose was broken when someone stopped short in front of her for no reason. She bashed right into the back of their head. She was 12, and this was in King City, Missouri, so basically this is not a new problem or one unique to New York City.

The most frustrating place I have ever been a pedestrian is Tunis. Just huge masses of people, milling about on the sidewalk for no reason, then darting suddenly into traffic. They weren't even tourists.
posted by something something at 10:44 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> yeah goddam longhairs with all their fancy books and crap are RUINING AMERICA i gotta git 'er done at work

That's typically inane. I read daily, but not while walking where there are other people that are trying to walk. You must not live in a big city.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:45 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


This thread makes me glad to live in a friendly slow-walking rust-belt city.
posted by octothorpe at 10:45 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always had this theory...

* We are aware of the personal space concept.

* Personal space varies by culture and age. The personal space zone of an American differs from a Japanese person, for example. The personal space of a 16-year-old American differs from a 60-year-old American.

* Personal space moves with you. You walk inside a "bubble" of personal space that surrounds you.

* Personal space changes shape as you move. That bubble morphs / grows / shrinks. You may not care who or what is behind you, for example, or how close they are, or even be aware of their existence.

* When sitting in a vehicle under your control, your personal space grows in relation to the size of the vehicle, and changes according to the correlation of the changes to your space when it moves. For example, if a person has an 18-inch personal space, when they get into a car that's twice their size, the imaginary bubble grows to 36 inches. If they start to move, the bubble moves with them and changes shape as if they were walking.

* This is the starting point of the "Asians can't drive" or "women can't drive" stereotypes. They drive just fine. They just don't drive the way a white man expects them to. "Why are you going so slow? Why are you stopping here? GRAR!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:46 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I have walked down Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras and the Mall of America on Black Friday.

I assure you, your idea of a crowded walkway is limited.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's unclear exactly why some people harbor such beliefs, Dr. Deffenbacher says.

What the hell is unclear about slow people getting their slow butts to the right?
posted by fusinski at 10:47 AM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you just drive into an intersection blindly? No? When why in gods name would you just walk out of a shop or restaurant without looking both ways, first?

And this: Feeling competitive with other pedestrians

Wait, so this is wrong?? But I won 4 times today already!
other people race other people people to the end of the block, right? i mean why else would you try and pass me but to issue a silent challenge? and i will accept that challenge every time. every. time.
posted by raztaj at 10:48 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why are people walking and reading a book at the same time? I just do not understand that at all.
posted by muddgirl at 10:48 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


> I have walked down Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras and the Mall of America on Black Friday. I assure you, your idea of a crowded walkway is limited.

I've been in the most crowded pedestrian passage in world history. It's more about context, though. If it's a special occasion of some sort then expectations are totally different than just mid-morning during the work week or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:50 AM on February 15, 2011


What about that subset of pedestrians--often tourists--that clog up escalators?

Me: "Excuse me."
Dumbass: *blank stare*
Me: *clears throat* "Excuse me."
Dumbass: "HERP?"
Me: "Behind you!"
Dumbass: "DERP?"
Me: RAGE FACE

I mean, c'mon. Unless you have spent literally your whole life in a rural community, there is zero excuse for you not to know escalator etiquette by now.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:50 AM on February 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


Why are people walking and reading a book at the same time? I just do not understand that at all.

Last weekend I saw a kid of about 13 reading a book as he walked along on a nature trail with his mom and little brothers. I thought that was sort of hilarious. Like, "FINE, I'll go, but I'm not looking at the scenery."
posted by something something at 10:50 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I read daily, but not while walking where there are other people that are trying to walk. You must not live in a big city.

No, I don't and "huge crowds of people all going somewhere at the same time" is a big part of the reason why. You must have plenty of free reading time. My 5-10 minutes of walking is almost the only physical book reading time I get.
posted by DU at 10:50 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


A couple of years ago, I was living in Manhattan and my long-distance Austin-residing boyfriend came to visit. I knew in the back of my head that this meant he was going to want to go to Times Square and be a tourist and I was dreading it and hoping he'd forget about it.

Of course, we ended up going. I remember exiting the subway station and seeing these masses of slow-moving people, knowing that I was going to have to navigate them. At the beginning of the block, I visualized my path and I walked very quickly, making narrow escapes but made it to the end of the block fairly unscathed.

Then I realized boyfriend was still at the back of the pack, lollygagging and taking pictures of stuff. I couldn't exactly drag him through at my pace, so I had to stand with him in the crowd, moving at the pace of molasses.

It was exruciating. I should devise a test for potential partners' walking speed when confronted with a crowded city block...
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:51 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure, some people get lost. You can tell who they are because their body language is pretty good at communicating "Uh, where am I?" And I have no problem with people who read or fiddle with their cell phones while walking. However, if they do not possess enough attention to spread between walking and their Distracting Hand Item, then choose the latter as a priority, we have a problem.

I am not going to dart aside while you stagger like a zombie through the crowd, not looking where you are going. It is not incumbent on me to pay extra attention so you do not have to pay any. Oh, and if you and your pals are going to do the flying wing formation coming down the sidewalk, edging into the traffic on the other side, I guarantee you that I will cut through you like butter.

Rude people always want you to hush up and feel guilty for being annoyed at their rude behavior. That's what this article is about. I'm sure there are real rage-walkers (that sounds like a some kind of crossover Chuck Norris flick) out there, but this article is just chock full of "well you just can't tell so you'd better suck it up and not say or do anything."
posted by adipocere at 10:52 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I stopped reading at "Facebook."
Is there a word for those of us that feel uncontrollable rage when writers cite Facebook? Do we have a group?

Anyway yeah, everyone else in North America needs to chill out. ;) Not me though! My anger is always justified and righteous.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:52 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ragers tend to think people should do things their way, and get angry because the slow walkers are breaking the rules of civility. It's unclear exactly why some people harbor such beliefs, Dr. Deffenbacher says. Such ways of thinking are generally learned from family, friends or the media, he adds.

This reads like rules of civility are strange ideas that only occur in some people. We all have different rules of civility, but some places have common mores. In New York, it is very crowded lots of people are in a hurry so common courtesies are typically things that move the system along. Know what you want to order before you get to front of the line, let people off the subway before you get on, and move to the right if you want to stand on the escalator or walk slowly. Other actions are rude in New York. I'm not a hurried person, so I don't live in New York anymore, but it's clearly the system that works best there.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:54 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This: it's juts intolerable

Keep those elbows in!
posted by chavenet at 10:54 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I personally would like to fund research into why people stand right on top of me while waiting on line at Duane Reade. Jesus Christ people just take 1 fucking step back that's all I ask, I don't need you shouting in my ear while you yap on your cell phone.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:55 AM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Out here in NorCal where everyone drives and even in pedestrian centers you'd be hard-pressed to encounter much foot traffic except in stadium-emptying events, what drives me crazy are the goddamn adult sidewalk bicyclists. Its a fucking sidewalk. Its doubly maddening here in my hometown where pretty well every street has a generous bicycle lane or enough space to make it reasonable to ride on the streets as God and the laws of public safety intended. Though folks wrong-waying it down the bike lane give me equal grar...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:55 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


How about groups of people who congregate and chit chat right in the front of the subway entrance/exit?
posted by nathancaswell at 10:56 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


6. Men: 4.42 feet per second;
7. Women: 4.10 feet per second;
8. People with bags: 4.27 feet per second;


Yeah, don't even get me started on those genderless bag-carriers clogging up Times Square. All laden with satchels, crotches as smooth as the back of a spoon.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:56 AM on February 15, 2011 [26 favorites]


I walk slow, I have heart failure, deal with it, or don't. I could really care less. The sidewalk is an unregulated public space, you can share it with everyone and all their ridiculous and thoughtless behaviors or go fuck off.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


Out here in NorCal where everyone drives and even in pedestrian centers you'd be hard-pressed to encounter much foot traffic except in stadium-emptying events, what drives me crazy are the goddamn adult sidewalk bicyclists. Its a fucking sidewalk.

I was riding my bike to the bus station once in New Hampshire and a pickup truck blew past me, slammed over to the shoulder and a fucking irate off duty cop came ripping out like he was going to beat my face in and proceeded to scream at me for a solid 15 minutes about how dangerous it was for me to be riding on the road and that I should get my ass on the sidewalk. Just FYI.

I ride in the street on fucking Park Ave or Canal St in New York City, but out in the country apparently who fucking knows what the proper thing to do, laws be damned.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about groups of people who congregate and chit chat right in the front of the subway entrance/exit?

During rush hour? They "accidentally" get toes stepped on or the occasional bag in the midsection or back. Same goes for the "I'm too important to let you off the train so I'm going to rush in before anyone can get out" crowd. Otherwise, I let it go.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I was going to vent a little bit about sidewalk-zombies... when I remembered that I'm married to one. He is just completely unaware of his surroundings - he is the guy that backs right into you at the supermarket, or who walks out of a store and then stops right at the entrance (usually because I'm a bit behind him).

I've tried, I really have, but I think he's a hopeless case. I apologize in advance if we're ever in the same crowded area.
posted by muddgirl at 11:01 AM on February 15, 2011


Jet packs. Just sayin'
posted by Sailormom at 11:02 AM on February 15, 2011


OK, and one other thing, that just happened. It was on the 1 train at like 8 a.m., and these people got on and (just as an aside, I'm noticing an inordinate number of ZZtop-type bearded-men tourists lately, but anyway,) so this ZZtop-looking guy gets on with his ZZtop-style wife, and it's the morning commute and we are all buried in our reading matter or music, and the guy is talking in like an artificially loud voice about all the zombies on the train, "How come no one's talking? This is just weird, everyone seems so pissed off, don't New Yorkers talk to each other? WTF is wrong with NYers? Buncha zombies" I am serious! I just turned up my volume, but can you believe that? We're commuting, sir, we do this EVERY DAY, what is your expectation of us?? Sorry, I've derailed but it was yesterday morning and it's still sticking in my craw!
posted by thinkpiece at 11:03 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> who walks out of a store and then stops right at the entrance

The worst form of solipsism there is! With respect to husbands.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:05 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those who try to get on the subway before current riders step off should be thrown onto the third rail.
posted by Babblesort at 11:05 AM on February 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


We have several multi-use trails around here that I use to commute to work when I ride my bicycle, and there are always the same groups of people that don't piss me off so much as endanger my life. There are:

-The phalanx of mothers pushing strollers, occupying the entire width and both lines of the path.
-The dog walkers who are actually walking at the far right of the path, but the dog is rustling in the bushes on the far left with a long tripwire of a leash between them.
-Parents with young children on bicycles that dart all over the path at random intervals.
-Joggers and other cyclists wearing headphones and weaving all over the path.

Then there are the people that hate you for no other reason than you're on a bike. If I ring my bell while passing someone, I get yelled at. "On your left!" - "You didn't say please, asshole!" (this happened.) Passing with a wide berth and not saying anything? Also an egregious offense.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:06 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is some interesting work by Bettencourt and West that shows that people walk quicker in bigger cities; one possible explanation being that they view their time as more valuable.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:08 AM on February 15, 2011


6. Men: 4.42 feet per second;
7. Women: 4.10 feet per second;
8. People with bags: 4.27 feet per second;

Yeah, don't even get me started on those genderless bag-carriers clogging up Times Square


On a Venn diagram, while 8 intersects with 7, it is a strict superset of 6.
posted by CaseyB at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2011


The people I hate the most are the ones commuting with rolling luggage. How fucking long are you going to be at the office. Also those grocery baskets you drag behind you, hey! columbia lacrosse player! you are in the prime of your life, carry your fucking grocery basket!
don't block the entire fucking aisle with your basket of gatorade bottles.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:10 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


- Groups of people who walk abreast rather than single file or staggered through confined spaces
- People who talk on their cellphones in the self-scan checkout lines (not Bluetooth headset schizos, one hand on the phone and the other slooooowly scanning and bagging their items while a long line waits in silent frustration
posted by Burhanistan at 11:10 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is no crowd when I get out of my F350 and walk inside the Circle-K. What are you all going on about?
posted by benzenedream at 11:10 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was really pleased with myself when I thought up the term 'meanderthals' for slow-walkers.

Turns out I wasn't the first, but hey, the smug satisfaction kept me from kicking some dude in the back of the knee as he dawdled his way to me almost missing my train.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


My fast-walking ass is the reason your slow-walking ass can have such a high standard of living.

Also, what about the mind-reading slow walkers? You know the ones that wait until you're two steps from passing them and then suddenly swerve right in front of you. So you back off instead of fucking shoving them into Madison Avenue. But then, right before you're ready to make your move again, they fucking dart right fucking back in front of you.
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


If this is where we can engage in all-purpose sidewalk-travel gripery: the thing I hate the most is when I'm standing at the corner of an intersection, on the curb, waiting for the light to change, and someone walks around me, to stand in front of me, off the curb.

Every time it happens, I want to gently place my hand on the blocker's shoulder and say, "You know, I don't mean to overexaggerate my own nimble-footedness, but I feel certain I will walk faster than you, once the light changes. Would you mind if I stand in front of you, so as to facilitate that?" But such an exchange would be uncomfortable for both of us. So instead I just ball up my fists and shiver violently and emit a high-pitched whining like an injured bloodhound, which I've heard is a very "Brooklyn" thing to do.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:12 AM on February 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Reminds me of Will Eisner's four-page story "Internal Time". Page 1, 2, 3, 4.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:13 AM on February 15, 2011


Over this past summer, some clods had a stop 'n' chat at the bottom of a down escalator and I had the joy of taking part in what must have been the world's longest walking-backward chain as a whole stack of people tried not to collapse.

I am really loving this thread because I can identify with basically all of you. We're a community of rage.
posted by troika at 11:13 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


You have not experienced sidewalk rage until you've tried to walk down 6th Ave during the Halloween parade.

With a baby in a stroller and NO there was no other way to get to the place we were going. Argh.
posted by gaspode at 11:14 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, according to the article there's a psychiatric term for an explosive personality disorder that abbreviates as "I.E.D." That's pretty cool.
posted by circular at 11:15 AM on February 15, 2011


emit a high-pitched whining like an injured bloodhound, which I've heard is a very "Brooklyn" thing to do.

Like when the Donald Sutherland pod sees a human?
posted by benzenedream at 11:15 AM on February 15, 2011


1. Tourists walk 3.79 feet per second; 2. Smokers: 4.17 feet per second; 3. Cellphone users: 4.20 feet per second; 4. Headphone listeners: 4.64 feet per second; 5. Large pedestrians: 3.74 feet per second; 6. Men: 4.42 feet per second; 7. Women: 4.10 feet per second; 8. People with bags: 4.27 feet per second;

The trouble with this listing is there is a lot of overlap. For example, "large pedestrians with bags" advance at more or less the speed of continental drift and always feel compelled to walk in the exact geometric centre of a sidewalk, so as to cause the most incovenience for all.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:16 AM on February 15, 2011


Like when the Donald Sutherland pod sees a human?

Picture more scrunched up eyes, tears slowly sliding down my cheeks, veins popping out on my neck, a kaleidoscope of colors emanating from the crown of my head
posted by Greg Nog at 11:18 AM on February 15, 2011


My favorite are the ones who stand at the top of the subway entrance stairs blocking movement while they finish their phone conversations.
posted by yeti at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


...or their cigarettes.
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:20 AM on February 15, 2011


And the people who get to the end of the escalator and then stop to have a long slow think about where they want to go next. There is a mechanical people-conveyance device that you just stepped off of, which is continuing to mechanically convey people into the spot on which you are standing! Perhaps it would behoove you to step aside in order to ponder the deeper mysteries of the universe?
posted by Karmakaze at 11:22 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


The problem, as Brookhouse said is that there *are* unwritten rules, and while you're not expected to know them as a tourist, you should at least make an accommodation. Add to that that outside NY maybe SF, Chicago and a few other cities, nobody in the US walks anymore - most Maircans have forgotten the unwritten rules.

I also think the general level of selfishness has risen in the US such that a lot of people just don't care. I too have noticed *much more than in my youth* the phenomenon of people standing on the top of (very) narrow subway entrances to continue conversations, not taking their backpacks off in crowded subway trains (Jeez, I learned to put it between my legs when I was ten because my mom and dad told me, "Son take your backpack off so it doesn't bash into another commuter." - M mean, come on!) and walking slowly six abreast. The culture of narcissism is such that it literally doesn't occur to these offenders that these other people are actual people, rather than scenery.


""How come no one's talking? This is just weird, everyone seems so pissed off, don't New Yorkers talk to each other? WTF is wrong with NYers? Buncha zombies""

Thinkpiece, my hypothesis is that for whatever reason, perhaps because of the perceived rudeness of New Yorkers, people often love to tell New Yorkers exactly what is wrong with them in ways they'd never have the nerve - or would be too polite to do - to people from other places. A friend relates to how she and her husband were on a bike tour to the four corners region and some guy from Arizona said, when she told him she was from New York, "New York, what a dump, so dirty!" and then had a very self-satisfied grin. Whether or not that criticism is true, you can bet he probably wouldn't say to someone from Somalia, "Somalia, what a fucked up shithole your country is."
posted by xetere at 11:23 AM on February 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh my lord the failure to understand escalators. Usually I just take the stairs because it's not worth the blood pressure spike.

Actually I just want to say that on September 11, 2006, I was taking a downtown E train to work and a couple from Texas got on with a red wagon full of t-shirt-clad chihuahuas whose names (posted on the sides of the wagon, naturally) all began with "T." They were all going to the World Trade Center site. They did not actually inconvenience me terribly with their tourist-ness apart from putting me in a mindblown trance of disbelief such that I almost missed my stop.
posted by little cow make small moo at 11:25 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Over this past summer, some clods had a stop 'n' chat at the bottom of a down escalator and I had the joy of taking part in what must have been the world's longest walking-backward chain as a whole stack of people tried not to collapse.

I am really loving this thread because I can identify with basically all of you. We're a community of rage.


Me too.

At Union Station in Toronto, the trains arrive at ground level and exiting passengers descend escalators one floor down to the arrivals level. VIA Rail, bless their forethinking hearts, has employees stationed to greet arriving trains and to hustle away locals who want to hug Aunt Bertha and catch up with her eighteen inches from the bottom of the fucking escalator. I have a hard time comprehending the lack of situational awareness that leads people to do this. I thought these genes got weeded out back on the savannah when they greeted Aunt Thog eighteen inches away from the sabre-toothed tiger reposing in the long grass.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:25 AM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


xetere, yes, and Yes about the backpack.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:26 AM on February 15, 2011


I was taking a downtown E train to work and a couple from Texas got on with a red wagon full of t-shirt-clad chihuahuas whose names (posted on the sides of the wagon, naturally) all began with "T." They were all going to the World Trade Center site.

I just can't hate on this. Sorry.

(and I'm full of hate)
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2011


I also think the general level of selfishness has risen in the US such that a lot of people just don't care. I too have noticed *much more than in my youth* the phenomenon of people standing on the top of (very) narrow subway entrances to continue conversations, not taking their backpacks off in crowded subway trains (Jeez, I learned to put it between my legs when I was ten because my mom and dad told me, "Son take your backpack off so it doesn't bash into another commuter." - M mean, come on!) and walking slowly six abreast. The culture of narcissism is such that it literally doesn't occur to these offenders that these other people are actual people, rather than scenery.

This is exactly my problem -- the people who do things like stand in a big cluster right in the middle of the damn sidewalk or push their way onto a train before people have a chance to get off are effectively saying, "lo, mine own comfort and ease deserves satisfaction before anyone else's. For I exist!"

I've actually started becoming the kind of scold who glares at people and loudly says, "let us off the subway before you get on, thank you!" It's not what they do that sets me off -- I saw a woman the other day standing in front of the staircase I needed to get to, but my bad mood went away when I saw she just looked completely confused as to where she was -- it's their arrogance, that sense that their own reality is more important than everyone else's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


not taking their backpacks off in crowded subway trains (Jeez, I learned to put it between my legs when I was ten because my mom and dad told me, "Son take your backpack off so it doesn't bash into another commuter."

Nobody takes off their backpacks on the train anymore, ever. Aside from getting bashed with giant messenger bags it makes me very sad. For me its like old folks lamenting how kids today don't address people as sir or ma'am.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:29 AM on February 15, 2011


There's two types who drive me insane with their roaming tactics, and at both ends of the spectrum: children and the elderly (especially working at a restaurant). Kids are like unwieldy missiles fired by North Korea, and old people hobnob around like a meandering Bocce balls. Insanity.

I was once involved in a scavenger hunt, and one of my team's challenges was to take a photo of us reading porn in the kids section at Border's. So we grabbed a couple nude mags and made our way over. I'm a fairly tall guy (6'2") and used to wear really baggy jeans, and as I made my way around the bookshelves, this kid comes zooming around the corner. I instinctively raised a leg to let him under the draw bridge, but I wasn't quick enough, and he was clotheslined by the crotch of my pants. He went sprawling to the ground, and from my vantage point, I felt like I had just shit a giant, toddler-shaped turd. I turned around to make sure he was ok, and just like I would have done at his age, he shyly got up and raced off without a word.

I wouldn't have so much issue with the elderly and being trapped behind their pace if they didn't reek of old, cheap Macy's catalogues. If I wanted to suffer pestilence at a slow burn, nothing is worse than sharing a long traffic jam with my lactose-intolerant friends after pints at Cold Stone.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2011


Eponysterical ^
posted by Burhanistan at 11:31 AM on February 15, 2011


I take mine off, or if the train is not completely packed, I take it off one arm and keep it to the side rather than on my back. And taking it off is usually an inconvenience for me, because I'm usually also hauling around another bag full of my workout gear.

That said, my biggest annoyance is people blocking the entrances, on their phones, when I can hear MY GODDAM TRAIN COMING IN.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:32 AM on February 15, 2011


This is why I stay in my tiny little room, far, far away from all you scary people.
posted by briank at 11:32 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I live in rural Nowheresville, and all these issues are just as annoying to me. People stand around conversing obliviously in the middle of our local bike trail with their bikes. Space cadets at the grocery store, yakking on cell phones or just unaware of others around them, pull a grocery cart out of the rack and then just freeze, blocking everyone behind them, as they gather their thoughts.

At every small and large airport I've ever been in, morons from far and wide violate the large posted signs telling them where to stand/walk on escalators and moving walkways. Crossing campus, I have to dodge clusters of meanderthals the whole way.

Meanwhile, NYC residents are almost always polite, helpful, and not inclined to act as if the entire solar system orbits their special snowflaky selves.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:32 AM on February 15, 2011


Fellini, that's because they know that it orbits their city.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:34 AM on February 15, 2011


On sidewalks, I've started to adopt the tactic of dropping a shoulder and leading with it. This is great for those tourist groups who are coming towards you walking four abreast and oblivious. It gives them a great NYC story to tell folks when they get home.

(As my jiu jitsu improves I think I'll start doing double leg takedowns instead)
posted by bashos_frog at 11:35 AM on February 15, 2011


I think I'm just going to attach a cow catcher to the front of a shopping cart and push that in front of me all day.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:38 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


what drives me crazy are the goddamn adult sidewalk bicyclists

I'm with you. Also, why do some pedestrians walk in the street instead of use the sidewalk (in residential neighborhoods)? I have only seen it in the US and never in Europe.

Maybe they do it to get away from the sidewalk bicyclists?
posted by Triplanetary at 11:38 AM on February 15, 2011


And it's so much worse when it rains - Why do people feel that the steps leading out of the subway are the best place to fully open their umbrellas? I can understand wanting to stay dry, but you can do that with a partial-open that doesn't clog traffic or POKE MY EYE OUT
posted by Mchelly at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2011


> I'm with you. Also, why do some pedestrians walk in the street instead of use the sidewalk (in residential neighborhoods)?

Holy crap they do this in 'burbs of my city. I think it's more a dominance thing. This is "my" street.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2011


I was sad because I had no shoes until I met a man who had to walk behind someone slow.
posted by rocket88 at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2011


I've learned to be ok with slow walkers and moms with strollers etc....during off-peak hours. After all, they don't take transit everyday or leave their car everyday and you know it's an adventure! Woo!

But. BUT! Rush hour is for commuters. COMMUTERS. Not for tourists, not for moms going to hit up whatever new shop is for moms with hip little babies. During rush hour you get to where you're going, you pay attention and you don't look shocked or surprised if you get taken out by someone who doesn't appreciate your little group standing on the left of the escalator.

Rush hour is for the pros alone.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


what drives me crazy are the goddamn adult sidewalk bicyclists

That's where you and I differ. Streets are for cars. Human-powered devices should be on the sidewalk where the humans belong.

Yes, I know I'm in the minority. Yes, I know you think I'm wrong and have the citations to prove me wrong. Picture me sitting here with my fingers in my ears going, "La la la la, can't hear you..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2011


The Worst Place In The Universe is the Market Basket in Danvers, MA.

Nobody there knows what the hell they are doing. The aisle are full of shambling hordes randomly bumping into soup displays, forming their carts into barricades so they can converse with their fellow mutants, or just plain stopping as if their batteries had wound down in front of high demand items. They all get numbers for the deli so they can score a free sample of Land O'Lakes American Cheese, which they gnaw on, bobbing their heads at each other in mute approval. The grocery store is near an old folks home and its residents having nothing but time on their hands.

The store staff, by contrast, are a hive of army ants, constantly working to bring some sort of order to the meandering hordes. They have people policing the lines - if you do not pull up fast enough, they'll move someone ahead of you. This does not encourage people to be aware, nay nay, it just encourages them to stand around until someone in a white shirt tells them to move. Then they can waddle up to the check out and stare blankly at the conveyor belt. How will our purchases get on that belt, Myrtle? HOW HOW WE WILL NEVER KNOW LETS JUST SAND HERE AND EAT MORE CHEESE
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:44 AM on February 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


Radiolab had an episode about walking speed back in October. As always with Radiolab, they made it an excellent show by starting small (research into walking speeds in cities) and then widening it into a bigger question (what makes cities different from each other). You can listed to it here: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/oct/08/
posted by Triplanetary at 11:46 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm getting pissed just reading this thread. I'm a really calm, even-tempered fellow but absolutely nothing gets me more than sidewalk-blockers. Unfortunately, I live in a big city, full of them, though the worst offenders I've ever encountered had to be when I used to live in Philadelphia. There were two main types there - tourists and gaggles of office co-workers on lunch.

My solution is to just slam into anyone blocking my way & let god sort 'em out.
posted by item at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a New Yorker, I don't have the time to form expectations for other people, they just are, and my job is to navigate the world as it is. I usually just step into traffic. The trick is to read the traffic without looking at it. If you see a car and then walk into its path, they feel they have the right, or possibly the duty, to run you down. If they think you don't see them, then they stop. Of course, you need to determine if they actually see you or not. Haven't been hit yet, unless you count the one time a car ran over my foot. Actually, they stopped on my foot. "Are you OK?" "Yeah, I'll be OK once you get your car off my foot!" No damage from that one anyway.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


My Vancouver brand of sidewalk rage is reserved for those who walk with open umbrellas under the awnings.
posted by mannequito at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I work in downtown Asheville (tourist town) so I have to deal with this same stuff every day. I only get 30 minutes for lunch, c'mon!

I'm pushing to institute a "tasing zone" within the downtown area for many of these offenses. Think of how great the warning signs would be: four stick figures with cameras walking side by side, but one of them is getting hit with the warning bolt while his knees buckle.
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some days I wish I had a meat suit and a pocket air horn.
posted by cazoo at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


In DC, I'm constantly infuriated by the slow pace people take when walking throughout the Subway Metro (and standing on the escalators). Is it that unreasonable to expect people to hustle a little bit when you can see and hear the train coming? It's not like they come every minute!!!

That said, I've gotten a murderous glint in my eyes on numerous occasions in NYC, whenever a tall person on a crowded sidewalk ashes his cigarette on my shoulder. The stench of cigar smokers is bad enough, but anybody who deliberately deposits burning tobacco on another human deserves a knee to the crotch. NYC is definitely a pressure cooker.
posted by schmod at 11:49 AM on February 15, 2011


Dublin is hell for this kind of thing. Teenagers will link arms and walk three abreast, completely taking up the entire sidewalk. It's like a game of chicken. For a while I'd try to go around them, but often the only place to go is out into the street. When you've been pushed out into O'Connell Street traffic enough times, you learn to fight back. Stare them down, and barge through.

No-one should have to be put in danger just to walk on the sidewalk.
posted by LN at 11:50 AM on February 15, 2011


- people in Costco who block the aisle entrance with their cart to graze on free food samples
posted by Burhanistan at 11:51 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


For instance, instead of thinking about how much of an idiot the pedestrian is and how he shouldn't be allowed on the sidewalk, imagine the person is lost or confused, or simply doesn't see you, says Eric Dahlen, a psychology professor at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg who researches anger, aggression and traffic psychology.

Easy to say, hard to do.

When people are walking two or three abreast toward you from the opposite direction and they don't make room to pass and aggressively bump you when you try to pass them, it is not because they are lost or confused, it's because they're being assholes. Simple as that.

The sidewalk behavior where I am now is somewhat slightly less obnoxious than it was in San Francisco. The only places there where you could really feel a little de-escalation in your blood pressure were on Market Street, where the sidewalks are so wide that you can mostly escape walls of people if you're clever about it by strategically darting in and out of holes in the walls, or on side streets, where all you have to worry about is being hit by cars, or way up in the wilds of Corona Heights, where you can look down on it all and laugh at mortality from a safe distance.
posted by blucevalo at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2011


most Maircans have forgotten the unwritten rules

But the rules for walking arent that different than, say, the rules for driving... and people who've been driving for years and years can't manage to follow the actual, written rules of the road...
posted by muddgirl at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2011


I get a minor laugh* out of people who stop right at the bottom of escalators in tube stations.

I've had to shout at someone standing at the bottom of an escalator in a tube station.

For some reason, she thought that directly in front of the bottom of the escalator was a totally cool place to stop to check her map.

Pro tip: I can't stop. I'm on a conveyor belt and am about to hit you.

* and by laugh, I mean weep.

I never understand how people are so unaware of their environment. It's the same with people who stand on the left of a crowded escalator. Literally everyone else is standing right and walking left. Even if you can't read the signs every 2 feet that say "Stand Right" - basic observation should be a clue to the rules.

This thread is actually raising my blood pressure.
posted by generichuman at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


On sidewalks, I've started to adopt the tactic of dropping a shoulder and leading with it. This is great for those tourist groups who are coming towards you walking four abreast and oblivious. It gives them a great NYC story to tell folks when they get home.

That's the tactic my grandfather taught me forty-five years ago. This isn't a new problem, no matter how much of a special snowflake environment we think we live in. It worked then, and it works now, and no, I don't give a shit that you dropped your purse or I hurt your feelings or you were just trying to button your coat (real life responses there, folks). Do. It. Over. There. On. The. Right.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 11:53 AM on February 15, 2011


"Groups of people who walk abreast rather than single file or staggered through confined spaces"
Those are the people that really bother me here in the skyways of Minneapolis. There are tourists who don't know any better but they learn quickly if everyone stays on the right, everyone gets through the little hallway. The guys in suits that are walking four abreast from their meetings to their lunches know better but do it anyway. If one side of the skyway is busy, they can have the "middle lane", but don't try to push me into the sushi sign because you won't walk behind your fratpack.
posted by soelo at 11:54 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also think this is the root of the perception that big city people are more rude than small town folk.

It's just that big cities have their own etiquettes, social fictions, and and social norms thanks to the fact that we live completely cheek-by-jowl. When people Flout those rules, we react angrily.

We're not rude, we just work to a slightly different set of norms.
posted by generichuman at 11:55 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


When confronted by idiots standing in walkways or trying to get on a subway/elevator before people get off, I bark. WOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOF right in their stupid faces until they back the hell off. It always works. It's kinda fun, too.
posted by Etrigan at 11:57 AM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dublin is hell for this kind of thing. Teenagers will link arms and walk three abreast, completely taking up the entire sidewalk. It's like a game of chicken. For a while I'd try to go around them, but often the only place to go is out into the street. When you've been pushed out into O'Connell Street traffic enough times, you learn to fight back. Stare them down, and barge through.

I have encountered that in many cities. Walking home after work one day in Toronto in a foul mood (because of the aforementioned work, I noticed just ahead a cluster of eight or nine teenagers advancing southwards down Yonge Street in a cluster. Pedestrians heading north were stepping into the street or flattening themselves against storefronts. I, having not seen the petite side of six feet or two hundred pounds since age 14, continued straight.

It was like ninepins: I know about four of them pointedly collided with me and yet my pace and course was unchanged while they went this way and that.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:58 AM on February 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I live in Wisconsin, a land made up of many large people who walk slow, so I've developed a tolerance for it and have become pretty proficient at getting through large crowds by virtue of being long legged and having a good eye for where gaps are going to appear.

But I just can't stand stoppers. If you are walking, walk. If you need to stop because the fucking conversation you are having on your phone is so mind blowing that you literally can't continue moving forward please, please, please, move over.

It's not that I mind having to slow down, or walk around you, it's that you are so disconnected from reality that you aren't even aware of how rude you just did was. That is what drives me into a calling-in-an-airstrike-on-my-own-position kind of fury.
posted by quin at 11:59 AM on February 15, 2011


Pedestrian prescriptivists are the new grammar nazis?
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:00 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"they went this way and that."
posted by ricochet biscuit

Epnoysterical
posted by soelo at 12:02 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My DC walker's rage is tempered by my visits to NYC where I'm suddenly the slow one. (I try to stay out of the way though, I swear!)

But seriously, there is no excuse for standing at the bottom of the escalator. I don't care where you're from, you have seen an escalator before and you realize that the stairs continue to descend with other people on them after you get off.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:03 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're not rude, we just work to a slightly different set of norms.

Rudeness is relative. Personally, I'd much rather receive a sincere "fuck you" than some passive aggressive "well, bless yer heart!" That shit is fucking rude.
posted by raztaj at 12:05 PM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Very, very few people can walk and text message simultaneously without losing almost all awareness of their immediate surroundings. While most critics focus on the walking-texters endangering themselves (texting while crossing a busy intersection) the ones who randomly slow, stop or kilter off-course on the sidewalks are the ones who make my blood boil on a daily basis.
Since I did not want to walk around in a giant roil of hate every day at lunchtime, I made up a song called 'Walking While Texting' whose lyrics consist entirely of the following phrase repeated over and over again: "I'm walking, I'm texting, I'm walking and I'm texting!" I sing it aloud.
Sometimes it helps.
posted by 8dot3 at 12:06 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


So what disease do I have because I want to stuff a knapsack into the lower orifice of the idiots who don't take off their backpacks on a crowded subway.?
posted by Gungho at 12:07 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gungho: you may have the same disease that I have, called 'five foot four-itis'. I catch a face full of tall dude backpack on the subway or bus on an almost daily basis.
posted by 8dot3 at 12:10 PM on February 15, 2011


1. Senior Citizens In Front Of The Dairy Case
C'mon Grandma, you buy the same type of milk EVERY WEEK! Please don't stand for 10 minutes staring at the 2% shelf, wondering if you should upgrade to whole milk.

2. People Who Pass You, Get In Your Lane, Then Immediately Slow Down To Turn on THEIR Street
OMG! GRARRR! Is this really you getting home 2 seconds earlier by making me stop for you?

3. That One Guy Who Brings His Dog To The Park With No Leash, And Then Insists On Throwing A Ball Using One Of Those Jai Alai Thingies, Which Makes Your Dog (on the leash) Go Freaking Crazy

4. People Who Walk Three Abreast On Sidewalks
When approaching other pedestrians, SINGLE FILE!

5. Anyone Who Talks On A Cell Phone And Ignores The Cashier While In A Checkout Line
I always crack wise with the cashier after you people are gone, and believe me, they hate you even more than I do.

6. Any Counter Person Who Tries to Multi-Task and/or Talks To Someone on A Phone Instead Of Completing My Transaction First
Hello? I'm right here with the money. You need to take the money.

7. People Who Run Like 16 Different Transactions At The ATM
If you want more than just the Fast Cash, go talk to a Teller.

8. People Who Purchase Nothing But Lottery Tickets
You know what? Why don't you just give me your money and get out of the way? You're never going to win.

9. Suburban Drivers Who Are Completely Unaware Of Pedestrians
The city's not too bad, but the Burbs? Those people will kill you.

10. Mothers Who Let Their Children Steer Their Shopping Carts
Seriously? Would you let young Bobby drive your Beemer? I think not.

Okay, that should hold me for now.
posted by valkane at 12:10 PM on February 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


Not only does my blood boil when people stand rather than walking on the left side of escalators, but even when the left lane is open for me to scurry up/down, I can feel my inner Jonathan Edwards wanting to slap and hector the right-side standees about their sloth and moral turpitude as I go by.

Oh and don't get me started on the hell-bound non-disabled, non-package-carrying bastards who smack the opening panel for my univ's auto-self-opening disability doors instead of just pulling the goddamned door open for themselves, who remind me of the inert blobs in WALL*E.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:14 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do agree with everyone on this thread who feels irked at people who are acting truly selfish -- standing in walkways blocking others behind them, standing on both sides of an escalator so there is no room to pass, behaving at a airport kiosk check-in or supermarket checkout as if there was no one waiting behind them in line, dashing into an elevator or train without letting others get off first -- etc. But I always shed my irritation immediately by asking them why they are special. E.g.: "I see you are parked here in front of the library where it says "no parking." Can you explain why you are special to me before I go and report you? Or: I'm sure there is some reason you are talking on the phone while scanning your groceries. Can you share with all of us why you are so special?" I have yet to get an answer to this question, but people who are asked do seem to get moving a lot faster.

But really I'm here to derail because I loved this -- this ZZtop-looking guy gets on with his ZZtop-style wife due to the instant image of a tall husky white guy with a really long beard, accompanied by his tall husky white wife with a really long beard . . .
posted by bearwife at 12:15 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Loud talkers in restaurants. I despise them and I want them to die.
And these damn wrong number dialers. What the hell do we do about them?

posted by Who_Am_I at 12:15 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


i will let you all in on a secret. a great secret. a secret i've been saving for myself... but after the sheer frustration and rage in this thread, i'm feeling such pity for my fellow sufferers that i'm letting the cat out.

firstly, it only works with people walking toward you. even lots of fast serious-looking people walking toward you, aiming to barge and shoulder you out of their way if necessary. slow people walking the same way as you will still cause you issues. sorry about that.

so, all you need to do is look at them. do not under any circumstance make direct eye contact. stare hard, at their eye level, about six inches to a foot on one side of their eyes. if you look left, they'll go to the right of you. if you look right, they'll go left.

simple as that. i have no idea about the mechanism. maybe they're just worried that you're not looking where the hell you're going. maybe it's something more subtle because they're expecting eye contact to figure out which way you're going and don't get it. dunno.

but you'll be able to clear an almost straight path through oncoming foot traffic. sometimes to the point where people break stride to get out of your way. i know it sounds odd, but it works. mostly.

you can thank me later.
posted by soi-disant at 12:18 PM on February 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


L'enfer, c'est les autres.
posted by gyusan at 12:18 PM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


what drives me crazy are the goddamn adult sidewalk bicyclists

Yes, oh god, this is one case where I will actually singsong "Whyyy are we on the siiiiidewalk? The sidewalk is for WALKING!" when they go by. But only quietly to myself, and because I know they are already too far away to hear me.

idiots standing in walkways or trying to get on a subway/elevator before people get off

Since moving to Boston I have come to miss New York for this. People in New York were almost always good about letting people off the train (because WHY on earth wouldn't you? They are making the space that you shortly hope to occupy!) but not so much here. When waiting, I try to lead by ostentatiously polite example, standing pressed up next to the train well away from the door and peering wide-eyed in only once the stream of people exiting has trickled to a stop: "Goodness, is everyone off? Splendid! NOW I shall board the vehicle!" But it does not really help.
posted by little cow make small moo at 12:19 PM on February 15, 2011


"wanting to slap and hector the right-side standees about their sloth and moral turpitude as I go by."
But my knee hurts, so please stop judging me.
posted by soelo at 12:21 PM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


But my knee hurts, so please stop judging me.


Which is why I resist the urge.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:23 PM on February 15, 2011


Those who try to get on the subway before current riders step off should be thrown onto the third rail.

A good idea in principal, but the practical effect would be almost instantaneous blockages of all subway lines by massive piles of smoldering flesh.

For example, on my commute yesterday, as my train was coming to a stop, I saw two big grandmotherly ladies trundling up to the door that I was going to exit. And, I mean, they were like built like big old buffaloes wearing puffy coats. I had a moment of hesitation as the doors started to open, but there were people behind me so it's not like I could stop moving forward or move to another door. Sure enough, boom, boom, as I took my first step out of the train the ladies shoved into me like linebackers on either side. They literally sent me reeling out onto the platform, tripping over a baby stroller with my arms flailing everywhere. At least the other people getting onto the train saw what happened and were giving me sympathetic looks, rather than giving me the ol' ignore the spastic person blank avoidance stare.

Those ladies would have taken a long time to burn off.
posted by otolith at 12:25 PM on February 15, 2011


Loathe-worthy: people walking 2-3 abreast on a narrow sidewalk and not becoming single file when someone (me) approaches them in the opposite direction. Petty for sure, but man, how poopy of them.
posted by wowbobwow at 12:27 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The South has their own issues with walking and pedestrians, mostly because no one ever does (which makes me feel way less bad about biking on their big empty sidewalks).

The worst occurrence I've had was with a herd of junior high kids on campus. We were all in an area that was roped off from the road and the grass (prevents driving right onto the grass when tailgating). They're all streaming towards me and I'm trying to decide if I should step out, to my left, into traffic to avoid them or hope that one of their teachers calls them to order. I opt to stay out of the way of the giant trucks driving by and continue on the right side of the sidewalk. But they don't move. Their teachers aren't even looking ahead to see if anyone else is walking on the sidewalk.

So, I start hip-checking the kids. I brought out all my Canadianness and road hockey skills and hip-checked them on purpose and then apologized in a passive aggressive fashion, really loudly. I don't think I'm ready for the South (or maybe they're not ready for me).
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:28 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The answer is to place bombs on the people in a major city. It arms when they reach 3mph, and blows up if they drop below it.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:29 PM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh man, this one time I was biking to class going, admittedly, the wrong way down a one-way street. But at that time of day, campus was completely devoid of car and foot traffic, so it really didn't matter too much which way I was biking. Anyway, here I am biking, and a chick passes me on her bike going in the opposite direction. She made a big show of throwing up her hands and shouting, "YOU'RE GOING THE WRROOOONG WAAAYYY" at me.

Her outburst caused her to almost hit a parked car.
posted by phunniemee at 12:29 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, it's winter. Half the sidewalk has snow on it. Is this really the best time for you and your friend to walk slowly two-abreast and have a conversation? IS IT?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:31 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


the hell-bound non-disabled, non-package-carrying bastards who smack the opening panel for my univ's auto-self-opening disability doors instead of just pulling the goddamned door open for themselves

In my defense, I only do this when no one else is around, and then it's not out of laziness.

It's so I can pretend I'm striding into my Science Fiction Doom Fortress.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:40 PM on February 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


> So, I start hip-checking the kids.

I thought this was where we aired legitimate grievances about flow interruptions, not so much how we punished children.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:45 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My ex's entire family were doorway standers. Anytime they would exit or enter a building they would automatically stop in the doorway and stand there to "get their bearings" or discuss what the plan was. It drove me mad beyond belief. I should have known right then and there that we were doomed as a couple. Doorway standers are not people I can be around.

And honestly, I'm from the South where they don't walk anywhere and even I understand that when you are sharing space with other humans you make an effort to be aware and respectful. I think the presumption of this article is that there's something wrong with those who get angry about slow walkers, door standers, and others like them. I don't think that's the case. It's not that we are angry about your slow walking ass, walk as slow as you like, just be aware that you are not the only person in the universe and other people want to go around you. We are angry that you are so self-absorbed that it doesn't occur to you that others might also be using this space. Step out of the way if you need to get your bearings, ask someone for help if you're lost, and for god's sake if you want to have a long, romantic conversation with your sweetie and gaze lovingly into his/her eyes...do it out of the frakking way.
posted by teleri025 at 12:48 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've learned to keep my annoyance with slow walkers at bay - except for sometimes when someone who's slow and oblivious steps in front of me when I'm clearly walking faster than they are.

But what really grinds my gears these days is people on the bus who stand blocking the exit doors and don't even try to get out of the way. I will, and I've had to, shove right the hell past, and I don't care if it leaves bruises. In fact it's probably better if it does.
posted by dnash at 12:50 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the presumption of this article is that there's something wrong with those who get angry about slow walkers, door standers, and others like them.

Well, no. The article was specifically about people who engage in acts of "pedestrian rage", like hip-checking teenagers. Being angry is legitimate - being so angry that you "act out" can be seen as a legitimate disorder that should be addressed.
posted by muddgirl at 12:51 PM on February 15, 2011


...but out in the country apparently...

You were in one of the three burgs in NH that has sidewalks? That's not the country. There are no sidewalks in the country.


robocop is bleeding, my mom lives in that old folks home (Brooksby Village, right?), and she shops at that Market Basket. She's 95. She does her best, but she doesn't see that well any more, her hearing isn't what it used to be, and she's been known to get a little confused. She prefers the one two miles up the road in Middletown, but the BV shuttle doesn't go there, so she can't usually get to it. You, on the other hand, could probably drive a little bit further to free yourself of the infuriating foibles of the elderly. The Market Baskets are thick as flies around there, aren't they? It's kind of graceless to blame old people for exhibiting the characteristics of old people.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:51 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Their code: Slower people keep to the right. Step aside to take a picture. And the left side of an escalator should be, of course, kept free for anyone wanting to walk up.

... It's unclear exactly why some people harbor such beliefs...
We harbor such beliefs because that actually is the right way to behave in crowded areas? This article must have been written by meanderthals, baffled why anyone might think such things.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:52 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


For all of you advocating violence (even just small amounts), just remember, one of these folks may be on their last straw. If they respond in kind, you may be in for a seriously bad day. Also, the anger you feel is yours, not theirs. You're doing it to yourself, so remember that when you want to take it out on someone.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:54 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


doctor_negative, I am certain anyone 'advocating violence' is just letting off steam and not actually saying that we should punch the oblivious masses. No matter how badly we want to. If violence against the slow moving were actually a thing, we'd have sidewalk lanes by now.
posted by troika at 12:58 PM on February 15, 2011


"A lot of us have 'shoulds' in our head," says Dr. Deffenbacher.

I first read that as "A lot of us have shoulders in our heads." And I thought, "You were probably walking too slow."
posted by Splunge at 12:58 PM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


In defense of my violence towards children, I'm a small female who was outweighed by some of these teenagers and hip-checking can be more of nudge with attitude then a 'send someone into the boards' effort.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:59 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


some every day new york shit that annoys me:
    when people walk slowly when people stop suddenly when people hang out at the bottom or top of a staircase (sometimes right on it) when people walk side-by-side, taking up the whole sidewalk when people don't let others exit the subway (don't stand in front of the door then rush in, OK?) when people are generally inconsiderate and entitled when it comes to available space — say, in a crowded bar or subway (they don't even know they're in your way; that'd assume they concede that you have a way)
I'm sure there's much, much more, but honestly I'm sick of thinking about it.
posted by defenestration at 1:03 PM on February 15, 2011


That wasn't how I formatted that.

Oh well. Now you can experience my frustration just by reading about it!
posted by defenestration at 1:04 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is why we made walking illegal in Texas.

*starts up car, drives away with a screech of tires*
posted by emjaybee at 1:04 PM on February 15, 2011


I try to tell myself that in NYC, the inflow/turnover rate of tourists is so high that even if people catch on to reasonable sidewalk etiquette within a matter of hours, there is always a steady supply of brand new folks who haven't figured it out yet.

the thing I hate the most is when I'm standing at the corner of an intersection, on the curb, waiting for the light to change, and someone walks around me, to stand in front of me, off the curb

There's an intersection I try to avoid on my way home because it's one of those corners in midtown where the left lane is actually designated a turn lane. 100% of the time there will be people standing off the curb in that lane in front of traffic when the turn arrow goes on, and there will be honking, and there will be confusion from the people who don't understand what's going on and why the vehicles are so annoyed that they are standing in the street. Half the time they resolve it by darting into traffic rather than losing face by retreating to the curb. Even though I know it's not actually the same people each time, I get so frustrated that they never learn.
posted by yarrow at 1:08 PM on February 15, 2011


I occasionally find myself in the "I'd like to walk past this person walking toward me, but he/she keeps picking the same direction to walk past me" situation.

At the store the other night there was a man loitering in a high traffic zone, in between the house paint mixing counter and a rack of Justin Bieber calendars. Any self-aware person would stand a little off to the side so people with carts could get by. But no. So of course the next person who comes by with a cart says, "Excuse me sir, can I get by you?"
man: says nothing, doesn't move
woman with cart: "SIR, could you move please?"
man: nothin'
woman: "EXCUSE me, COULD you move so people can get BY you?!?!"
man: finally moves just enough so she can wheel past, saying "Well, EXCUUUUSE ME, ma'am!"
woman: indistinct muttering as she passes
man: "I am SOOO very sorry I inconvenienced you, Madam!" (woman is way out of earshot by then).
man continues to mutter about her, to no one in particular
(I was pretty much ready to smack his stupid mustache off his face by then.)

Of course this is in Oregon, where we are pros at being passive-aggressive.
posted by medeine at 1:11 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a dream where I am alone. Not just alone like I usually am while awake, but truly alone. One moment it's as it has always been, and then, just like that. Alone. Not a sound. But no, it's just not sounds I'm used to. And then, there... A soft metallic clacking from somewhere, and electric hum beneath my feet from nowhere, and the soft sigh of a wind gone wild, sounding somehow forlorn and menacing, seemingly infinite in a subtle way. I walk slowly, slower than I have ever walked, peering in every doorway, glancing nervously between every abandoned car, breathing deeply, relishing the familiar humanness of the tang of exhaust, senses hardwired to explode, every nerve firing electric anxiety, chills I have never felt. And still I walk, peering, and hoping, alive, but for what?

Slowly a feeling of exhilaration steals into me, a drip at first, then coming quicker, a flood. I am ALONE! Madness or excitement, I cannot tell, rips from me in a primal yell of freedom. I grab whatever is at hand, rocks, bottles, cans, and throw them in all directions. Windows smash, containers bounce both harmlessly and harmfully around my inanimate environment. My steps come quicker; and faster yet, till I break into a wild run. As fast as my legs and lungs carry me, I run, hopping over car, mailbox, whatever obstacle lies in my way. Faster and farther than I have ever dared to go. And then I collapse. In a human heap, breath billowing under my shirt. Face pressed in a gritty pavement still warm from the sun.

A thought: Why had I been left? Was I not worthy? Or was I the only worthy one? There, a shiny piece of a gum wrapper, with a moistened piece balled in the center, a child's tooth mark displaying its previous owner. I want this, I want to see this again, this trash, this litter, marking humanity here, I want to see this over and over again in more places than this. But I will not. I will never. There is no more than this. That what is there already, seen or unseen by me. And I am suddenly afraid.

And in my fear I weep. I need you. What did I do? Why did you leave me? I don't want to be alone. I don't want it. I'm not a rock, I'm not an island, I'm not ok, I'm not happy here. Please come back? I promise, I'll talk to you understand you love you be your friend do ANYTHING you want. I'm alone. I'm scared. Come home soon, ok?
posted by Debaser626 at 1:12 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> This is why we made walking illegal in Texas.

There's no shortage of transplants in Houston, and they usually have a story of how when they first got to town they were regarded as crazy people for declining a lift when they were walking a few hundred yards.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:12 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, and one other thing, that just happened. It was on the 1 train at like 8 a.m., and these people got on and (just as an aside, I'm noticing an inordinate number of ZZtop-type bearded-men tourists lately, but anyway,) so this ZZtop-looking guy gets on with his ZZtop-style wife, and it's the morning commute and we are all buried in our reading matter or music, and the guy is talking in like an artificially loud voice about all the zombies on the train, "How come no one's talking? This is just weird, everyone seems so pissed off, don't New Yorkers talk to each other? WTF is wrong with NYers? Buncha zombies" I am serious! I just turned up my volume, but can you believe that? We're commuting, sir, we do this EVERY DAY, what is your expectation of us?? Sorry, I've derailed but it was yesterday morning and it's still sticking in my craw!
posted by thinkpiece at 2:03 PM on February 15 [+] [!]


thinkpiece, I was with you until this:

I just turned up my volume

As annoying as idiot slow-walkers? People on the subway or bus who need to expose everyone around them to their too-loud music. It's not appropriate - turn down your volume. If you can't hear what's going on around you, your music is too loud, both for your long-term hearing and for the comfort of those around you.
posted by Dasein at 1:13 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


giving a "mean face"

if this counts for rage now, better fucking lock me up.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:13 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"1. Tourists walk 3.79 feet per second;
2. Smokers: 4.17 feet per second;
3. Cellphone users: 4.20 feet per second;
4. Headphone listeners: 4.64 feet per second;
That's me! =D
5. Large pedestrians: 3.74 feet per second;
Also me... =\
6. Men: 4.42 feet per second;
7. Women: 4.10 feet per second;
8. People with bags: 4.27 feet per second;"


Wow, googlemaths tells me I walk about 6-7 ft/s (4.5-5mph, generally; I walk a mile in 10-15 min). I always wondered about that. So it's no wonder I am always leaving people behind when we walk. Problem is, I have difficulty walking slower without actually breaking the rhythm of my stride (IOW, I'm taking individual, halting steps instead of just walking). I do a lot of walking and stopping when I'm with people.

In the same vein as cars yielding the right of way, I tend to yield or go around people as much as possible (and always say "sorry," even when not at fault) because I know I'll get where I'm going much more quickly than the people around me. But give me whatever help you can.

But if you want to walk around while towing your rolling suitcase behind you so that it creates and extra six feet of footprint behind you? Please stand aside or use some situational awareness, because I *will* boot it into traffic if I don't see it.
posted by Eideteker at 1:20 PM on February 15, 2011


When I lived in New York I always made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are.

That being said -- people who try to get on the train before the passengers get off? And people who ride their bikes the wrong way down a one-way street? Screw those people.
posted by escabeche at 1:20 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Walking around York (UK) has changed my life. People here mosey and there is no code. I keeping thinking about that RadioLab(?) episode where they discuss the pace of cities and just how many random factors about a city's inhabitants correlate with the average walking speed. It's a constant reminder that I Don't Live Here. Yet. But, like I said, it is changing me. I feel the subtle nudges on my psyche each time I step out into the cobblestone street in a huff to pass the strollers (polysemy intended). I hear their silent tsks. And it slows me down. It probably won't be long before I see some aggro-mover and chuckle to myself, "Ha! Silly raging American." (But until then, for the love of biscuits, GTFO of my GD way!!!)
posted by iamkimiam at 1:23 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


And yes, that speed is normal city navigation conditions. It's all in the mental mapping, a la rachaelfaith (whose test I daresay I'd pass).
posted by Eideteker at 1:23 PM on February 15, 2011


Good God, the escalator thing drives me nuts. The worst part is that most people do it the right way, yet it only takes one inconsiderate or clueless person to completely ruin the escalator civil society.

I know it's possible to make the system work, because in places like the UK, escalator etiquette on the tube is a universal law. It should be taught in schools, goddammit.
posted by Thoth at 1:23 PM on February 15, 2011


They really need a speed for people who drink coffee while walking. We haul ass.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:24 PM on February 15, 2011


escabeche, respectfully, that's an odious thing to do. Why would you just decide that people around you aren't in a hurry? People like you are the problem.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:24 PM on February 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


And people who ride their bikes the wrong way down a one-way street? Screw those people.

Why? I know a few one-way streets that can be ridden down, the wrong way, without incoveniencing anyone, by pulling onto the sidewalk when a car is coming and the road when a pedestrian is coming. And where the alternative is to detour a few hundred metres onto a busy main street, putting yourself at much greater risk.
posted by Dasein at 1:28 PM on February 15, 2011


What about those of us who just like walking fast, no matter where we're going? I mean, shit, I power-walk to brunch on Sunday mornings just because it feels good. There's room for everyone on the sidewalk to walk just how they like if the slow people stick to the outsides and the fast people go in the middle, like on the highway.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:29 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It funny how much of our disdain comes from us assuming we know what is going on in strangers' heads.
"They aren't as busy as they are acting."
"They aren't lost, they are being jerks!" (that one was me)
"They are just lazy!"
"They don't think I matter as much as they do."
I know sometimes these are true, but often they are just ascribing malice to lack of awareness.
posted by soelo at 1:35 PM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


this ZZtop-looking guy gets on with his ZZtop-style wife

My experience is that this means a tall dude gettin' on in years with a loooooong beard and a barely-legal hottie poured into a tight dress. This comes from having seen one of the members of the Top accept an award at Rice with exactly such a companion.

Also, I am one of those horrible people who stands, to one side, on the escalator. Sorry my need to take a break from walking for a bit inconveniences you.
posted by immlass at 1:35 PM on February 15, 2011


I am with oinopapoton, I am not in a hurry to get anywhere but I like to walk fast. Slower walkers are fun to me because they are like pylons. I treat walking down a crowded sidewalk like that old tie fighter game where you had to dodge asteroids without clipping anything.

Now its the people who don't walk down to aisles of the train and instead block up the doorways while giving you that there's no more room look (yet after you shoulder through them there is tons in the middle). Those people should have a special spot in hell reserved for them.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 1:37 PM on February 15, 2011


"not taking their backpacks off"

There have been a few times when it's been too crowded for me to take off my backpack (no room to straighten my arms, for one!).

"What about those of us who just like walking fast, no matter where we're going? I mean, shit, I power-walk to brunch on Sunday mornings just because it feels good. There's room for everyone on the sidewalk to walk just how they like if the slow people stick to the outsides and the fast people go in the middle, like on the highway."

Right, I don't walk fast to be an asshole. I walk fast because that's my natural walking speed. And it feels good. I mean, it feels right, at least. You're welcome to go as slow as you like, as long as you:

A) are aware of the people around you
B) stay to the right, incl. to use your phone (and, re: that, see A)
C) Do not walk erratically. If you don't know where you're going or get confused for a minute, step off to the side. I am a "fast walker" and I do this all the time.

It's about courtesy, not making time.
posted by Eideteker at 1:38 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


So right there on the train, then?
posted by the other side at 1:38 PM on February 15, 2011


Bah, meant for Pink Fuzzy Bunny (damn you, Eideteker!).
posted by the other side at 1:38 PM on February 15, 2011


You can damn me if you can catch me!
posted by Eideteker at 1:39 PM on February 15, 2011


Yeah, I sure do hate people who squeeze their comments right in front of my responses to a previous comment!
posted by otolith at 1:40 PM on February 15, 2011


Ooooh eideteker.....one-a these days......
posted by otolith at 1:41 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's not what they do that sets me off -- I saw a woman the other day standing in front of the staircase I needed to get to, but my bad mood went away when I saw she just looked completely confused as to where she was -- it's their arrogance, that sense that their own reality is more important than everyone else's."

Indeed. Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Also, Hanlon's Razor.

Oh, and: Be excellent to each other.
posted by Eideteker at 1:41 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


immlass,

Standing on the escalator is fine, as long as you stand on the RIGHT SIDE!*

*Note, if you are in the UK, that should read LEFT SIDE!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:42 PM on February 15, 2011


Loathe-worthy: people walking 2-3 abreast on a narrow sidewalk and not becoming single file when someone (me) approaches them in the opposite direction. Petty for sure, but man, how poopy of them.

Yeah, this seems to be way more prevalent in Chicago than slow walkers. It's just insane to me how often it occurs, like 9 out of 10 times. When I do pass a couple or group who arrange themselves single file in order for me to pass I almost want to call their mothers to tell them what lovely children they've raised. Men are the worst offenders too. You'd think there's be some kind of unspoken chivalry thing about not making a female walk into the mud or a busy street to get around you but it's more like "I'm a man and I own the sidewalk ". I've taken to engaging in sidewalk chicken now when I'm in a particulary bad mood. So far I've always won.
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:42 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's the idiots who insist on spreading their group right across the width of the sidewalk.

It's the idiots who seem to think that the best place to stop for a chat/map consultation/random dither is just outside (or even in) doorways and entrances, at the head or foot of staircases and escalators or just in any damned bottleneck they can find.

It's the idiots blundering along, head down, tapping away at their INFERNAL FUCKING CELLPHONES instead of looking where the fuck they're going or standing the fuck out of the way while they finish their game of Angry Birds, or tweeting "OMG ppl in nyc r so rude WTF?", or whatever the fuck these horrible people do.

It's the idiots who take bikes and strollers on the subway at bleedin' rush hour. The bikes, especially. Ride the fucking thing! That's what it's for! The city isn't that huge and look at you, you healthy young thing! Ride! If you don't want to, leave it at home! GOD.

People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are.

Well, how nice it must be to be able to accurately ascertain just how much of a hurry everyone walking fast in New York really is. Quite a talent you have there.
posted by Decani at 1:43 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Standing on the escalator is fine, as long as you stand on the RIGHT SIDE!*

*Note, if you are in the UK, that should read LEFT SIDE!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:42 PM on February 15


Oh no it shouldn't. We stand on the right in the UK too. Good thing I corrected you on this or next time you visited you would surely die.
posted by Decani at 1:45 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


People on the subway or bus who need to expose everyone around them to their too-loud music. It's not appropriate - turn down your volume. If you can't hear what's going on around you, your music is too loud, both for your long-term hearing and for the comfort of those around you.

Strangely enough, I find this has more to do with the design of the headphones than the volume. I've had some headphones that were audible to others despite being at a reasonable volume.

In any event, this complaint was also a "big thing" when I lived in Japan and I can never figure out why. I've never heard a sound from anyone's headphones that compares to the volume of a quiet speaking voice. I can see why this might be distracting in a library for example, but why it's an issue on the train or bus is beyond me.
posted by Hoopo at 1:45 PM on February 15, 2011


It's the idiots

This is exactly what the article was talking about, by the way - we assume that everyone else is an "idiot" - that their transgressions have internal causes, while our own transgressions have external causes.

My own road- and sidewalk- rage has subsided as I've realized that I am someone else's idiot.
posted by muddgirl at 1:46 PM on February 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


Loathe-worthy: people walking 2-3 abreast on a narrow sidewalk and not becoming single file when someone (me) approaches them in the opposite direction. Petty for sure, but man, how poopy of them.

I am brand-new to bike riding within the past couple of months and these sorts of people are blowing my mind on the shared walking/biking trails around my town. It's not just rude, but I could KILL you! When I see this situation about to occur I've started yelling, "I'm not good at steering!" and they tend to snap to attention after that.
posted by something something at 1:53 PM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


The self-righteousness in this thread is alarming. Chill out before you stroke out, people.
posted by Jode at 1:54 PM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Decani,

Good to know.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:57 PM on February 15, 2011


Why are people walking and reading a book at the same time?

Why the fuck not? I do it on the streets of San Francisco all the time. (Admittedly, it's 6:30am.) I pass people while I do it. I also do Sudoku while I walk. Now I'm going to do it more just because I now know it pisses people off.

I have no problem with slow walkers, as long as they go straight. It's the people who slowly change direction suddenly that suck.

Also, drunks. The fucking worst. You stop drinking and walking; I'll stop reading and walking.

or what doctor_negative said.

what drives me crazy are the goddamn adult sidewalk bicyclists

Agreed. Everyone over 12 on wheels needs to be in the street.

The people I hate the most are the ones commuting with rolling luggage. How fucking long are you going to be at the office.

Lawyers. Ever seen the amount of paper in their offices?

This thread is really depressing to me and echoes one of the most depressing things about the Internet. People have a lot of hate for people who aren't doing anything worthy of hatred.

Be nice to people; you never know what their real story is.

I walk super fast. In fact, when I'm not reading, I will usually jog or sprint. I just need to get there faster! I suppose you people hate runners as well.

not taking their backpacks off in crowded subway trains

OK, I admit this one peeves me off too. But honestly, seriously, fucking let it GO.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:58 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Ooooh eideteker.....one-a these days......"

meep meep! peeeeowwwm!
posted by Eideteker at 2:01 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh no it shouldn't. We stand on the right in the UK too.

Tokyo is stand on the left, walk on the right. Took me all of one day to figure this out, and all of 3 weeks to break my NYC habits.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:03 PM on February 15, 2011


Why the fuck not?

The same reason that people should not text and drive, even at 6:30 am: it's impossible for a human to adequately divide their attention this way, no matter how much our forebrains delude us into thinking that we're great at multi-tasking.

In either case, if you need to occupy your mind during a boring "chore" such as walking, consider an audio book instead - at least then you can keep your eyes on your surroundings.
posted by muddgirl at 2:04 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


And it's so much worse when it rains - Why do people feel that the steps leading out of the subway are the best place to fully open their umbrellas?

OH GOD WHY UMBRELLAS WHY. Why do people decide that they absolutely must keep their terrace awning-sized umbrellas open when walking underneath a block-long narrow scaffolding with a hundred other rushed commuters, all of whom are also wielding immense umbrellas? The rain can't get to you, you are underneath a scaffolding. I want to wrestle their umbrellas from their idiotic grasp and RUN THEM THROUGH.

oh god this thread is so agitating to read
posted by elizardbits at 2:06 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


There have been a few times when it's been too crowded for me to take off my backpack (no room to straighten my arms, for one!).

Really? On the platform, before the train pulls in?

I guess I've been lucky to avoid those kind of crowds when I board at the Times Sq./42nd St. station in the morning rush hour.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:07 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many Prague denizens avoid interactions with strangers on public transport like the plague, which often causes a backup of on the left side of the escalator with everyone glaring silently at the back of the person's head in front of them. Fucking infuriating to be at the end. Plus no one'll commiserate with you.

Still not as bad as people who get on before letting people off. There can be no reason for that other than being an unbelievably selfish asshole.
posted by DLWM at 2:09 PM on February 15, 2011


I guess I should clarify my stance - if you're living on some country road with little foot or vehicle traffic, feel free to sacrifice some of your attention to reading material.

If you are in a city, with other pedestrians, cars, bicyclists, etc... please consider whether it's the appropriate time to read the paper.
posted by muddgirl at 2:09 PM on February 15, 2011


Why are people walking and reading a book at the same time?

Why the fuck not?


There's a short and easy answer to this and I can't believe it hasn't occurred to you: when you're reading you're not watching where you're going. It's actually kinda dangerous.

OH GOD WHY UMBRELLAS WHY.

at 6'4", I consider myself lucky to still have both eyes. Especially in Vancouver where short people carry a god-damned circus big top over their heads
posted by Hoopo at 2:10 PM on February 15, 2011


Oh yeah? At least in NYC you can tell those tourists to go home. Try that in DC and they get all "This is AMERICA'S city!" I think there's at least a modicum of understanding that folks in New York are generally there to work and stuff. Tourists see DC as one giant fucking Disney Land, where the streets aren't really real and no one really lives, and if they do, it's for the amusement of the visitors. Yes, I know the Capitol is all cool and you've never seen it and RIGHT HERE is where the best picture will be but goddamnit I have to get to work.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:13 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember being in a crowded hotel at a convention when someone tried to push into a (packed) full elevator before letting anyone off. Someone commented "In New York, you let people off the subway car before trying to get in." The pusher snapped "Well, we're not in New York" (we were in Washington DC). I walked by, muttering, "and yet the laws of physics remain the same..."
posted by Karmakaze at 2:13 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Really? On the platform, before the train pulls in?"

You're assuming I'm on the platform before the train pulls in.
posted by Eideteker at 2:14 PM on February 15, 2011


"oh god this thread is so agitating to read"

Maybe you should go for a walk?
posted by Eideteker at 2:15 PM on February 15, 2011


But keep to the right if you're going to putz around.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:20 PM on February 15, 2011


George Carlin said it best (about drivers):
Anyone going slower than you is and idiot!
and anyone going faster is crazy.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:23 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why the fuck not?

I would venture to say that this is the thought process (insofar as there is a thought process at work) that has occurred in the minds of every single person whose conduct is being criticized here.

"I want to get into the elevator before anyone inside has gotten out. Why the fuck not?"

"I want to greet my friends and chat at the top or bottom of the full escalator. Why the fuck not?"

"I want to saunter and gaze vacantly at the bright lights in midtown Manhattan. Why the fuck not?"

This would apply in other situations (and threads) where people's rudeness is called into question:

"I want to chat with my buddies and repeat the funny lines in the movie we are watching right now. Why the fuck not?"

"I want to talk VERY LOUDLY ON MY CELL PHONE WHILE EATING IN THIS RESTAURANT. Why the fuck not?"

"I want to turn and change lanes without using my turn signals. Why the fuck not?"

"I want to play music loudly in my apartment at 2:45 AM. Why the fuck not?"

In every case the answer is the same.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:24 PM on February 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


Maybe you should go for a walk?

I tried but there were all these people IN MY WAY.
posted by elizardbits at 2:37 PM on February 15, 2011


I am a fast walker. Navigating around slow walkers can be exhilarating or irritating. Seeing the openings before they happen, sending subtle signals with my eyes and shoulders to create the opening where and when I want them, seeing the subtle effects of my actions move like a grass flattening shockwave down the herd. Having a full color four dimensional model of body -> personal space -> sidewalk -> destination constantly mutating in my mind. I feel like a sheep dog on Spice piloting a Guild Heighliner.

I love visiting cities with other fast walkers. The first time I went to N.Y. I was 16 years old. I spent most of my time there walking up and down the busiest sidewalk, feeling like I finally belonged. There is a subtle language of acknowledgement between fast walking peers.

At one point I started following a man, walking 6 steps before me. He was a pro, and I could draft the low pressure eddies of displaced slow walkers he left in his wake. I saw him take out a fresh pack of Marlboros from his coat pocket, remove the wrapping, remove a cigarette, and replace the pack without shedding the tinniest bit of speed. By the time his cigarette reached his lips, and before he started looking for his lighter, I had managed to position myself next to him, lit zippo in hand. He took it, lit his cigarette, and with a little nod we became a team.

This happened around 24th street, by the time we made it to central park there were four of us fast walkers drafting each other like a peloton in the Tour de France. Being the leader takes the kind of skills I already had, drafting at close distance and knowing when to switch spots was a completely new challenge. I loved it.

Now I ride my bike everywhere. Slow riders, riders who stop in the middle of the bike lane, right side passers, trial bikes weaving all over the place, muni rails, potholes, pedestrians walking on the bike lane and car doors must die.
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:40 PM on February 15, 2011 [24 favorites]


I'm a freakin' footpath ninja. I started my apprenticeship in inner Sydney and got my Masters on the streets of Tokyo. I'm water. I flow. I can get across the infamous 5 corner Shibuya without being touched by another human being, even at 6 pm on a Saturday.

You have to allow for people who are older, or have strollers or just walk slower. However anyone reading or texting or plain just selfish or unaware - you are fair game to be told off.

As far as strollers go - you know what not everyone is a stay at home mother with hours on their hands and have to travel with their kids during rush hours on subways. It's no fun for them but a shitty attitude makes it twice as hard. Anyone who has rage about people with strollers or other impediments which can't be helped need to be sentenced to two weeks getting around on crutches.

Rage at stupid and selfish behaviour - sure. Rage at someone physically incapable of moving as fast as you would like - then you are in the wrong. You don't get to dictate who gets to travel during rush hour and you don't know their circumstances.
posted by gomichild at 2:40 PM on February 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


"I want to saunter and gaze vacantly at the bright lights in midtown Manhattan. Why the fuck not?"

Never been to NYC before, but is midtown Manhattan not where you'd find Times Square? You know all those bright lights are put there specifically for people to look at, right? This doesn't strike me as an example of someone being inconsiderate as much as the other examples; obviously it's an annoyance to people commuting, but that's one case where you can't have it both ways.
posted by Hoopo at 2:42 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Never been to NYC before, but is midtown Manhattan not where you'd find Times Square? You know all those bright lights are put there specifically for people to look at, right?
Yes and no. Yes, there are bright lights and shop windows and tourist attractors. On the other hand, most of the walkways in those areas are spacious enough that there are plenty of places to stand that are not directly in the middle of where people are trying to walk. It's not the sauntering that offends, but paying so much attention to the bling that you are not paying attention to the other people around you. Not only will this make people have to slam to a halt as you randomly swerve into their path, or stop short, but it's a good way to get your pocket picked.

I see enough tourists who step to the side to take pictures, or who gawk from the edge of the sidewalk rather than the middle of the crosswalk that I know it's possible to enjoy the spectacle without disregarding the through traffic.
posted by Karmakaze at 2:52 PM on February 15, 2011


When I lived in New York I always made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are.

oh my god you MONSTER
posted by elizardbits at 2:52 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I try to think of DFW's advice.
The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it's going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply unfair this is: I've worked really hard all day and I'm starved and tired and I can't even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid goddamn people.

Or if I'm in a more socially conscious form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic jam being angry and disgusted at all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUVs and Hummers and V12 pickup trucks burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers, who are usually talking on cell phones as they cut people off in order to get just 20 stupid feet ahead in a traffic jam, and I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and disgusting we all are, and how it all just sucks ...

If I choose to think this way, fine, lots of us do - except that thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic it doesn't have to be a choice. Thinking this way is my natural default setting. It's the automatic, unconscious way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities. The thing is that there are obviously different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stuck and idling in my way: it's not impossible that some of these people in SUVs have been in horrible car accidents in the past and now find driving so traumatic that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive; or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to rush to the hospital, and he's in a much bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am - it is actually I who am in his way.

Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you're "supposed to" think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it, because it's hard, it takes will and mental effort, and if you're like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat-out won't want to. But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line - maybe she's not usually like this; maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who's dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible - it just depends on what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important - if you want to operate on your default setting - then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren't pointless and annoying. But if you've really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars - compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff's necessarily true: the only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.
posted by zamboni at 2:56 PM on February 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


Thinking this way is my natural default setting. It's the automatic, unconscious way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities.

It's a good blurb, but the stuff that annoys me isn't always predicated on me being the centre of the world--for me it's more a question of others acting as though they're the centre of the world. Doing things that make them the special snowflake exception-to-the-rule because there's no way everyone else could do the same. The type that thinks it's OK to occupy the entire sidewalk with their friends and not make room for anyone else, or ignore speed limits or traffic signs, or park in the handicapped spot or take up 2 spaces, or throw trash on the ground or not pick up after their dog etc. It's not about my immediate needs and feelings, there's stuff that's annoying because it's so damned inconsiderate and selfish that it's hard to believe people aren't aware that they're pissing people off and simply don't care. I try and make an effort when out in public to be polite and considerate of others, so when you see people acting unreasonably in public it can be annoying and insulting even if it doesn't directly inconvenience you personally.
posted by Hoopo at 3:23 PM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Aw yeah, the Japan-dwellers emerge! Actually Japan is really good for this because most people are excellent walkers, and there are also lots of old people whose presence is a reminder to be kind and not take every minor inconvenience personally.
posted by No-sword at 3:27 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


when you see people acting unreasonably in public it can be annoying and insulting even if it doesn't directly inconvenience you personally.

Exactly. I think I feel even angrier when I see there are other victims of someone's inconsiderate behavior.
posted by orme at 3:30 PM on February 15, 2011


Aw yeah, the Japan-dwellers emerge!

On Tokyo escalators, you stand right, walk left. On Osaka escalators, you stand left, walk right. In Nagoya, all is chaos.
posted by Hoopo at 3:35 PM on February 15, 2011


My question is: Where are you going that's so fucking important?

The same reason that people should not text and drive

Ridiculous. Driving and walking are not comparable.

By the "unwritten rules" of the city, jaywalking is perfectly fine. Driving your car sideways across the street against the light is not.

In either case, if you need to occupy your mind during a boring "chore" such as walking, consider an audio book..

Duh. I'm not bored while walking (it's a five-minute walk from the train to my office). I just like to read. And I don't use audio books.

Also, some of the unwritten rules of the city are just fucking stupid and I won't follow them. Like waiting in line at BART stops. I won't. Sorry.

Meanwhile, NYC residents are almost always polite, helpful, and not inclined to act as if the entire solar system orbits their special snowflaky selves.

HAHAHAHA! Thanks, I'll be laughing all day when I think about that one. PROTIP: Everyone acts as if the entire solar system orbits their special snowflaky selves. That's what we do. As proof, start at the top of this thread and read down.

That One Guy Who Brings His Dog To The Park With No Leash

Dog owners that don't follow leash laws, now there's something to get mad about. Dogs attack people and kids all the time. I'm pretty sure I've never been bit by a slow walker.

Also, it's winter. Half the sidewalk has snow on it. Is this really the best time for you and your friend to walk slowly two-abreast and have a conversation? IS IT?

That seems like the perfect time to me. I've had some great conversations walking around NYC in the snow. There's nothing like the city when the snow is fresh and the traffic has slowed.

Stress is a killer, folks. Again, relax, breathe, count down from 10 to 1.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:41 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoopo: "
On Tokyo escalators, you stand right, walk left. On Osaka escalators, you stand left, walk right.
"

Nope you got that the wrong way around - Tokyo/Kanagawa/Saitama/Chiba - stand left, walk right, Osaka - stand right, walk left.
posted by gomichild at 3:48 PM on February 15, 2011


oops. Hey, it's been more than 5 years
posted by Hoopo at 3:50 PM on February 15, 2011


Why the fuck not?

I would venture to say that this is the thought process (insofar as there is a thought process at work) that has occurred in the minds of every single person whose conduct is being criticized here.


You couldn't be more wrong, my friend. Each answer is very different. I'll help you out.

"I want to get into the elevator before anyone inside has gotten out. Why the fuck not?"

Because people need to get out and they can't do it while you're getting in. It is faster for you to let them out first. Also, people getting out will provide more space for you. Also, some of the people inside may be disabled and you should provide them extra help if needed.

"I want to greet my friends and chat at the top or bottom of the full escalator. Why the fuck not?"

Duh. Because people are coming down the elevator and will run into you.

"I want to saunter and gaze vacantly at the bright lights in midtown Manhattan. Why the fuck not?"

You got me there. Nothing wrong with it, as far as I can tell. If I remember correctly, Manhattan is still in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

This would apply in other situations (and threads) where people's rudeness is called into question:

"I want to chat with my buddies and repeat the funny lines in the movie we are watching right now. Why the fuck not?"


Because you are spoiling the movie experience for other people. You are also breaking your social contract with the theater, who has likely asked you to refrain from talking or phoning during the movie.

"I want to talk VERY LOUDLY ON MY CELL PHONE WHILE EATING IN THIS RESTAURANT. Why the fuck not?"

Hmm. It's up to the restaurant, I suppose. But mostly you would be annoying the other patrons. If it's an emergency call to a person hard of hearing and you don't have time to go outside (i.e. you need to answer immediately), I think shouting would be acceptable.

"I want to turn and change lanes without using my turn signals. Why the fuck not?"

It's against the law and can cause traffic accidents, which injure and kill millions every year.

How many people have been injured by walking readers?

"I want to play music loudly in my apartment at 2:45 AM. Why the fuck not?"

It's likely against the law or against your lease. If not, you're likely annoying your neighbors. Who wants to annoy their neighbors?

In every case the answer is the same.

Again, hardly. In most of your cases, people are doing something obviously in breach of social etiquette and/or the law. In many cases, they are doing something very dangerous.

In the case of walking and reading, I see no analogy to ANY of your examples. Sorry. Maybe try again?

I'm still waiting to hear a good reason why I shouldn't walk and read. I am open, but I don't expect one. I don't accept, "Because it annoys people," as a good reason, unless there is a valid reason it annoys people. I am not slowing anyone down.

I don't like the fact that my neighbor never cuts his lawn, because it abriges my property with no fence. But I'm sure as hell not going to ask him to cut it just because it annoys me. WTF?! I'm now thinking most people here would disagree with me there.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:52 PM on February 15, 2011


Listen, I've lived in San Francisco for 15 years now. We have tourists. They suck. So does NYC. Deal with it. They are not trying to ruin your lives. I promise.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:54 PM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Driving and walking are not comparable."

Then why is the behavior the same? People texting while driving or walking tend to change their speed and maneuver erratically; in both situations they're distracted. It invites comparison.

Again, it's not life or death (usually), but what's wrong with being courteous to the greatest number of people?
posted by Eideteker at 3:55 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting to hear a good reason why I shouldn't walk and read.

up here. I can't give you a number of readers specifically causing injuries, but people not watching where they're going while walking down the street cause injuries all the time--not least of which to themselves. I can't believe you're even arguing this point, frankly. I deal with this stuff all day long in my job, people can even be seriously injured when sidewalk tiles are misaligned by 2cm or less and they don't see it. I guess you're the guy who won't believe it until you're on your ass with a busted ankle.
posted by Hoopo at 4:00 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I want to play music loudly in my apartment at 2:45 AM. Why the fuck not?"

I've found the best way to deal with this is go to the door of the offender and knock until they answer. When they do, ask them very conversationally, "What are we listening to?" Engage them in a very friendly but very persistent chat about the music. Either they'll turn it down just to get rid of you, or they'll turn it down to talk to you (AND you'll have made a new friend!). Win-win.

Most people will not actually shoot you. But if they do brandish a weapon, then hey, you can call the police. =D

On the next episode of IRL Trolling with Eideteker, we'll discuss how to kill drunks with kindness! Stay tuned, the news is next...
posted by Eideteker at 4:04 PM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


When I lived in New York I always made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are.

Excellent.

escabeche, respectfully, that's an odious thing to do. Why would you just decide that people around you aren't in a hurry? People like you are the problem.

Why are the people walking fast correct, and the people walking slow wrong? Walk whatever the hell speed you want to walk.

Then why is the behavior the same?

The behavior is not anywhere near the same, because the offenders aren't doing the same thing. Someone texting while driving will forget to signal or run a red light. Someone texting while walking will walk slow and possibly haphazardly.

Also, I would say that texting is worse than reading. I can read and walk at the same time fine. I cannot text and walk. Or I don't text and walk just because I'll be walking around haphazardly.

I guess I'm arguing against blanket prohibitions. If someone can text and walk fine, so what? Leave them be. In my opinion, I read and walk fine. I've never run into anyone or anything, or walked into the street, etc.

I guess you're the guy who won't believe it until you're on your ass with a busted ankle.

I guess so. But aside from endangering myself, am I endangering others? I suppose it's similar to motorcyclists who don't wear helmets, but honestly, the consequences seem much less severe. I put down my book/newspaper well before I come to any intersection.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:05 PM on February 15, 2011


I'm pretty sure I've never been bit by a slow walker.

Just wait for the zombie apocalypse, my friend. Then all those slow walkers will be a different source of frustration.

But at least people will be ok to bash them in the head, so that'll be a plus.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:06 PM on February 15, 2011


the stuff that annoys me isn't always predicated on me being the centre of the world--for me it's more a question of others acting as though they're the centre of the world.

Isn't it an amazing coincidence how it always turns out that way?
posted by escabeche at 4:08 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


we'll discuss how to kill drunks with kindness!

Keep buying them drinks until their livers explode?
posted by elizardbits at 4:08 PM on February 15, 2011


"Why are the people walking fast correct, and the people walking slow wrong? Walk whatever the hell speed you want to walk."

Okay. Then why step out in front of a fast walker who's living and letting live? Or did you just out yourself as a rage-walker of the slow variety? (There are slow-moving road-ragers, too, surprise surprise!)

Again, it comes down to: Don't be an asshole. You and escabeche seem to be reveling in assholedom.
posted by Eideteker at 4:11 PM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


You want infuriating?

I visited Shanghai at Chinese New Year; people there will push you out of the way regardless of the speed you are walking.

I had an old lady in an old town try to forearm me sideways because I'd stopped at a vendor to enquire about his prices.

A younger woman and her friend bodily tried to push me sideways on Nanjing Road while I was walking straight (they were heading at an angle and instead of simply cutting in behind me tried to outrace me).

Don't even get me started on the Metro.

Shanghai people make Hong Kongers look polite by comparison.
posted by bwg at 4:15 PM on February 15, 2011


Why are the people walking fast correct, and the people walking slow wrong? Walk whatever the hell speed you want to walk.

It's not a matter of 'correct': fast walkers don't get in the way of slow walkers, but slow walkers do get in the way of fast walkers.
posted by robertc at 4:17 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: My own road- and sidewalk- rage has subsided as I've realized that I am someone else's idiot.

Me, too. Conscientiousness about how my movement through or positioning in public space is something I've been working on especially hard ever since that time dad darted off to, I dunno, get confirmation from somewhere about where we were supposed to be going, leaving us preteen and teenage kids for a few minutes with our luggage in the middle of what we eventually realized (thanks to the woman who swore at us, which shoved me from being paralyzed by bewilderment into being paralyzed by embarrassment) was other people's way.

Every so often, I slip up due to getting lost in thought, or feeling grief over some situation or other, or you know, stuff like that, and receive snark from somebody I've inadvertently inconvenienced. I apologize, but the ones who've huffed off never hear it.

It makes me wonder...out of all the people I get annoyed at for being irritatingly slow or otherwise in my way, how many are just having a rare off moment or day, just like I do sometimes? Maybe that theory's wrong, but allowing for that possibility gets me into a happier mental space, faster.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:19 PM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess so. But aside from endangering myself, am I endangering others?

Well, I can't say for sure because I have no idea where you're walking, who's around you, or how you're able to know that an intersection is coming up or who's around you while you're reading and not looking. Practice, I guess. When the insurance companies try to recover your (or the helmetless biker's) medical costs from the City or State because they maintain the roads/sidewalks you bailed on while not paying attention though? That's taxpayer dollars.

Isn't it an amazing coincidence how it always turns out that way?

OK, that was funny, but you ignored the rest of that comment. I was talking about specific self-centered behaviours, and qualified it with "isn't always." I'm not saying I'm a saint, here. I get pissed off too when I'm inconvenienced, like everyone else.
posted by Hoopo at 4:22 PM on February 15, 2011


Again, it comes down to: Don't be an asshole. You and escabeche seem to be reveling in assholedom.

Oh my god. Here are three people on the sidewalk who are not moving. I'm getting closer...oh man, I'm going to come into physical contact because they are not moving at all. Ok fine...welcome to elbow and kneeville. i'll also drop a loud fart like a terrorist.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:22 PM on February 15, 2011


FelliniBlank: "Not only does my blood boil when people stand rather than walking on the left side of escalators, but even when the left lane is open for me to scurry up/down, I can feel my inner Jonathan Edwards wanting to slap and hector the right-side standees about their sloth and moral turpitude as I go by."

Ahem. The stairs. They move. Ever wonder why? Think about it.
posted by Splunge at 4:32 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


(There are slow-moving road-ragers, too, surprise surprise!)

Not exactly road rage, more like road judging, but...one time on a gorgeous spring day in Boston, my bladder was about to explode but I was like 5 minutes from home and I knew there weren't any public washrooms enroute, so I went zoom zoom zoom around all the damn pedestrians, shifting into faster-than-lightspeed as I hauled into the final block, ZOOOOM around a slow-moving woman who called after me, "Oooo she's so damn hasty! Slow down to smell some flowers!"

I wanted to be all, "But I HAVE TO PEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" at her but I barely made it to the toilet in time as it was.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:34 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm walking down the street right now ... LOOK OUT!
posted by mrgrimm at 4:36 PM on February 15, 2011


On my college campus I like to play chicken with groups of people who walk beside one another, taking up the whole sidewalk. I've gotten quite good at staring through people. It's fun to see which one of you wins at not-giving-a-fuck.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:37 PM on February 15, 2011


Ahem. The stairs. They move. Ever wonder why? Think about it.

Yeah, I'm right there with you, but the unwanted Cotton Mather Voice in my head insists that escalators are not elevators.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:42 PM on February 15, 2011


Don't even get me started on the Metro .

Shanghai people make Hong Kongers look polite by comparison.
posted by bwg at 12:15 AM on February 16 [+] [!]


Could be worse. Could be Delhiites.
posted by Catfry at 4:44 PM on February 15, 2011


I know it's possible to make the system work, because in places like the UK, escalator etiquette on the tube is a universal law.

Not at all. Every time I leave London I am constantly surprised/frustrated/infuriated by the people standing randomly in the way all over the escalators.

It's the same with people who stand on the left of a crowded escalator. Literally everyone else is standing right and walking left. Even if you can't read the signs every 2 feet that say "Stand Right" - basic observation should be a clue to the rules.

One time I got on to the escalator at Waterloo and someone with a big bag got on just in front of me and immediately dumped bag and himself on the left. I assumed he was some sort of tourist/non-Londoner and didn't say anything. Then someone comes dashing down the escalator, also with a bag, and he has to swerve around this guy and, unsurprisingly, knocks into him a little. The eejit standing on the right at this point attempts to kick/trip the guy running past him, which brings forth from me a loud "Tut!" The conversation then went like this:

Eejit: Well, he knocked into...

Me: Can you read?

Eejit: But he just...

Me: Can you read?

Eejit: Yes.

Me: Stand on the f***ing right then.

It was a very cathartic conversation for me.
posted by robertc at 4:48 PM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


On Tokyo escalators, you stand right, walk left. On Osaka escalators, you stand left, walk right. In Nagoya, all is chaos.

Well, this is why I'm so confused about the UK: I used to live in Nara.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:00 PM on February 15, 2011


fast walkers don't get in the way of slow walkers, but slow walkers do get in the way of fast walkers.

When I'm walking on the sidewalk at a normal pace and a self-involved dude on a cellphone bashes into me in his rush to get into the crosswalk before the "Don't Walk" sign stops blinking, I take little confort in the fact that no one is "in my way."
posted by escabeche at 5:04 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, drunks. The fucking worst. You stop drinking and walking; I'll stop reading and walking.

Heh, okay. Guess I'll drive from now on, then.
posted by invitapriore at 5:12 PM on February 15, 2011


I am excellent drunk walker, SERIOUSLY DUDE I'M OKAY GIVE ME MY SHOES
posted by invitapriore at 5:13 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey...wait...stop...look up there.

What's...

...that...

huh.... Wait.

I think...yeah...I found an old candy...in my right pocket....

Well...

I'll be.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:16 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


As annoying as idiot slow-walkers? People on the subway or bus who need to expose everyone around them to their too-loud music. It's not appropriate - turn down your volume. If you can't hear what's going on around you, your music is too loud, both for your long-term hearing and for the comfort of those around you.
posted by Dasein at 4:13 PM on February 15 [1 favorite +] [!]


Oh, funny, no, I'm ancient, "loud" to me is like at 7. And it's NPR. And someone with a very NPR voice. No worries.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:23 PM on February 15, 2011


I'm a fast walker, and walk up and down the most touristed street of one of the most touristed cities in Britain at the beginning and end of each working day, dodging distracted people all the way, and...

It doesn't bother me. There are enough stresses to worry about when I'm sitting at my desk all day; I'm not going to add to them by turning the invigorating real-life videogame of Royal Mile Pedestrian Frogger into Royal Mile Pedestrian Rage. Not even when the walk uphill slows to a crawl for the entire month of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Rush hour is for commuters. COMMUTERS. Not for tourists, not for moms going to hit up whatever new shop is for moms with hip little babies.

I could get my rage on about this comment, though. Moms have a right to use the streets too, and angry assumptions about why they're using them before 9am are just that, assumptions. They can't always leave their babies at home for other people's convenience.

As for those tourists, screw them and the money they inject into our local economies, amirite? Who needs them, apart from the local galleries and theatres and restaurants that make our city of [insert Thriving Metropolis here] the magical place that drew us here from [Sleepy Backwater] in the first place, or keeps us here if we were born here. They should limit their perambulations to 10-11am and 2-3pm and feel grateful that we allow them out on their own at all. Let them take taxis, like the gormless, corpulent stereotypes they are. (Not us, though, when we're out of town: we're travellers, not tourists, soaking up the details that the locals miss, taking artistic photos and adding them to our Flickr streams - apart from the shots where someone walked right in front of us. Can't get away from inconsiderate pedestrians anywhere.)

I'm still waiting to hear a good reason why I shouldn't walk and read.

I cured myself of that habit by walking into a lamp-post.
posted by rory at 5:29 PM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just one more: people who haul ass up to the office building, then have to dig for their badges.
Nothing like exiting the revolving door just to walk right into someone digging through their pockets, or worse yet , getting stopped by security until the trading floor jackasses ahead of you can find their shit.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:48 PM on February 15, 2011


I'm still waiting to hear a good reason why I shouldn't walk and read.

You have been presented with many already. Possibly I could add the mother pushing her baby carriage, the six-year-old wobbling on her pink bike and training wheels, the disabled guy on the cane (that last one would be me) all of whom you have unilaterally shifted the onus on to to jump out of your way because you are so wrapped up in The Da Vinci Code. Or, to paraphrase rory above, the fire hydrant which will fail to yield to your oblivious approach might cure you of this particular bit of whimsy one day.

tl;dr: "I want to amuse myself at all times and screw the inconvenience of others. And why the fuck not?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:12 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


park in the handicapped spot or take up 2 spaces

Wendy BD and I went to a movie a few months ago and found two of the spaces in the packed parking lot taken up by a polished muscle car positioned at a rakish angle across the dividing line. We parked some considerable distance off; as we got out of the car and began the lengthy walk to the box office, I asked her if we still had a notepad and a pen in the glove compartment. She affirmed that we did, so I tore off a page and scribbled a brief note, which I left under the windshield of the car taking up the two spaces:

SORRY ABOUT THE DING
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:18 PM on February 15, 2011 [25 favorites]


Not only does my blood boil when people stand rather than walking on the left side of escalators, but even when the left lane is open for me to scurry up/down, I can feel my inner Jonathan Edwards wanting to slap and hector the right-side standees about their sloth and moral turpitude as I go by.

Word on the streets (heh) in Japan is that escalator designers and maintainers much prefer the slothful approach, where you just stand still and wait to be conveyed. Bearing unchanging loads steadily up and down a slope is a nice, clear use case to design for; enduring an endless barrage of uneven stomping at all kinds of crazy angles gives you a whole bunch of new wear-and-tear issues.
posted by No-sword at 6:33 PM on February 15, 2011


I live in Nashville and I can always tell Vanderbilt students by their complete self-absorption, in stores and on sidewalks. I move to the edge of the sidewalk for them but always brace for impact -- even the guys expect my hugely pregnant self to walk in the mud for them. It's an attitude I've never encountered anywhere else.

I've tried to give them the benefit of the doubt for five years, but now I just have to assume that all Vanderbilt students are assholes. I've visited and lived in cities all over the world and have never minded other pedestrians until now.
posted by Toothless Willy at 6:35 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]




I'm still waiting to hear a good reason why I shouldn't walk and read.

Walked head first into a sign in Ausin.

That was my favorite city to walk. I used to have a few and walk to 7-11 for smokes. One day I was inspired by one of my grandfather's things,he used to drive around and whenever he saw a farmer carrying buckets he slowed and honked to get the farmer to put down his bucket and wave. Well after a few beers I would wave to any slowly moving car, forcing them to honk.

As someone who has never learned to dive, walking is the shit.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:41 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


escalator designers and maintainers much prefer the slothful approach, where you just stand still and wait to be conveyed. Bearing unchanging loads steadily up and down a slope is a nice, clear use case to design for; enduring an endless barrage of uneven stomping at all kinds of crazy angles gives you a whole bunch of new wear-and-tear issues.

Thank you! Now on days when my arthritis and pinched nerve thingie are acting up, I can just stand still on the (right side of the) escalator basking in the holy glow of not straining the machinery. Except for the mental Oliver Cromwell hissing, "You should have taken the real stairs, wimp."
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:51 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had to take two kids and a stroller through Boston during morning rush hour in order to get one of said children to her school. Not really any fun, and I apologize for being that lady with the stroller, but whatever. It happens.

Really though, the only time I feel rage towards pedestrians is when driving here in Providence. It is one of the few places I've been where yes, I've been in a car that was literally hit by a person. As in a person came up and smacked the car that I was in. Literally hit it. With his hand. For no reason. Because he felt like it. Smacked the car.

This only happened once, but it happens so damned often that people just saunter out into the street that I honestly wonder sometimes if people are going to try to ENTER my vehicle. This isn't just crossing when the light is red, this is crossing in the middle of the street with no intersection or crosswalk and just ambling out there and moseying along in the road. Where the cars drive.

If you're not expecting it, you really could kill someone. My father visited recently and I had to veto his driving privileges and take over whenever we drove in the general downtown area because yeah, he was going "too fast" (i.e. over 10MPH) and was totally going to kill one of those people who decided that NOW was the time to walk in the road. In five minutes, he did nearly hit three people - all of whom were totally in the wrong according to the rules of ANYTHING, but took great umbrage at the fact that a car would DARE to be DRIVING in the FUCKING ROAD.

I honestly worry more about hitting pedestrians than other cars and inch my way home to avoid hitting them, all the while muttering "Yes, please, walk out in front of my car. It's my favorite thing."

When walking in cities, I may try my luck with the lights - I'll admit it - but you'd damn well believe if I'm going to get mowed over, it'll be in a crosswalk.
posted by sonika at 8:32 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This thread is giving me PTSD.

I spent 7 years working as a props person/prop shopper and set dresser in a theater located on 42nd street. That was 5-7 days a week of hustling back and forth through Port Authority multiple times a day racing the clock in order to bring back my mission impossible scavenger hunt lists of items needed in order for the show to go on (or, during less critical moments, rehearsal to on without the director having a screaming meltdown should his live lizard/glow-in-the-dark dildo/stage blood/machine gun/all of the above/ not arrive before his dinner break ended).

A lot of these trips included carrying things that outweighed me, in multiple bags, all while balancing a chair on my head. I repeat: through Times Square.

Science can pull my sidewalk rage from my cold dead hands.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:36 PM on February 15, 2011


i can't be bothered to read all this, but ...

... i love small city life in the midwest
posted by pyramid termite at 8:50 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I consider myself an average speed walker. By southern standards, I'm downright peppy, but by NYC/London standards? Yeah, I'm a slow walker - that abomination you all love to hate so much. It's not that I'm lazy, or old, or disabled. When I'm walking with my husband (a fast walker in any setting) it's walk 10 steps, jog to catch up, walk 10 steps, job to catch up. I just can't walk that fast, and it's exhausting.

I go out of my way every god damned time I'm in a busy area to make sure I'm not inconveniencing other people. When I'm walking down the escalator and notice someone closing in on me, I move over to the right to let them get by, then move back to the left and continue walking. On sidewalks I always stick to the right just to make sure I'm not blocking off someone else. Would it kill people to show me the same consideration?

If you're coming up behind me, realize that I don't have eyes in the back of my head and have no way of knowing you're there. So instead of pushing me out of the way or making a nasty comment or giving me the stink eye, you can go around, fuck you very much.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 9:08 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks everybody.
posted by wrapper at 10:28 PM on February 15, 2011


Last time I was in NYC, a blind man with a cane bumped into me from behind and then cursed me out for not walking fast enough.

THIS PROVES SOMETHIMG.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:05 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a hell of a lot of ableism happening in this thread.

I walk slowly. Guess why?

I have arthritis in my knees and lower back, poor balance and other health issues.

I walk slowly because walking fast makes my knee damage worse, causes me pain, and I might fall over. My Dr has told me to slow down!

Walking fast = more impact on knee joints = faster loss of cartilege and worse arthritis.

The people suggesting bargeing into slow walkers with their shoulders or bags make me Grrrr so much.

If someone barges into me because they think I'm walking too slowly

a) it has the potential to injure me, a lot

b) I could well fall over and break a hip.

Dear everyone, people don't walk slowly on purpose in order to piss you off. They are walking just as fast as they can manage.

Take a deep breath, be thankful you are 100% healthy, and learn a little patience.
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 1:02 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who walks around singing "move bitch, get out the way, get out the way bitch, get out the way" when they get stuck behind people on the footpath? It's not the slowness that annoys me, more people being inconsiderate by taking up the entire footpath. Or stopping to have a conversation in the middle of it. That said, when I broke my foot and was on my first day on crutches, I got told off by an old person for walking too slowly when I was clearly having difficulty and slightly distressed. I was the only other person on the footpath, so it wasn't like they couldn't get past. People can be assholes.
posted by Kris10_b at 1:56 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who walks around singing "move bitch, get out the way"...
That said, when I broke my foot and was on my first day on crutches, I got told off by an old person for walking too slowly...
People can be assholes.


OH! THE DELICIOUS IRONY!
posted by dave99 at 2:00 AM on February 16, 2011


I've been spending some time lately with a girl who's a slow walker, and in some ways it seems like there's something strange about her whole view of the world.

When we walk or stand together (in an inconvenient location), we tend to have a stream of people brushing and elbowing past, many of them giving us dirty looks, but she's seems genuinely oblivious to them. When we walk towards a pedestrian crossing which has been on green/walk for a while, my natural inclination is to speed up so we can make it, but she doesn't even notice till we're a few feet away, when she looks up and panics.

But also when I make comments the world around us: a truck carrying Boris Bikes, an amusing beard, some street art, she generally says "Huh?! What?!" because she's never noticed them. She has talked about "walking around in a daze".

I think that to some people, the world around them is a bit like when Frodo puts on the ring in the Lord of the Rings movie: it's a vague swirl of grey smoke that they're only dimly aware of.

So I think to a degree, we should pity such people rather than be angry at them. While they're peacefully unaware of the rage and inconvenience of others, they're also tragically unaware of the beauty and wonder of the world around them.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:48 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear everyone, people don't walk slowly on purpose in order to piss you off. They are walking just as fast as they can manage.

Take a deep breath, be thankful you are 100% healthy, and learn a little patience.


As a bunch of people have noted, it's not the slow walking that's the problem, it's the total lack of awareness of one's surroundings. I've noticed that people who walk slowly due to injury/illness/age/&c are more aware than anyone else of their surroundings, because they're concerned about their safety in a world of fast walkers. I understand your frustration, but the rage in this thread is not ableism. It's idiotism.

The REAL problem is people derping along paying no attention to the world around them, starting and stopping arbitrarily to send a text message in the middle of a busy sidewalk, bending over to tie their shoe at the top of the subway stairs at 5pm on a Friday, setting their massive backpack down across the entire width of the escalator, walking 4 abreast on a narrow sidewalk and stopping in a huddle to have a discussion about Justin Bieber, &c.
posted by elizardbits at 3:47 AM on February 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


The only slow walker getting called an asshole in this thread was the person who said that he deliberately gets in front of people trying to walk fast and stops suddenly because he thinks their "hurry" isn't real and needs to be punctured. That's the asshole behavior, not walking slowly because that's your walking pace.

I would ask people who know they're moving slower than the flow of foot traffic to try to keep to one side and not walk three abreast, for the same reason that it's a bad idea to drive fifteen mph below the flow of traffic and hang out in the passing lane on the highway. In return I will navigate around you, make an active effort not to jostle your bag, and will slow down for a bit if the sidewalk is temporarily too narrow to pass safely.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


"not taking their backpacks off"

There have been a few times when it's been too crowded for me to take off my backpack (no room to straighten my arms, for one!).


Well think about it for a second. Is it possible to take it off while you are on the platform. Waddadope.
posted by Gungho at 7:04 AM on February 16, 2011


When I lived in New York I always made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are.

Sorry I knocked you down those times. Thanks for leaving.
posted by Splunge at 7:30 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Listen, I've lived in San Francisco for 15 years now. We have tourists. They suck. So does NYC. Deal with it. They are not trying to ruin your lives. I promise.

Possibly where you live, and maybe even in NYC. But I live in DC, where a lot of tourists are critical--out loud--of the city, the politicians, and the residents, because of the "tax dollars" argument. Never mind that no one who actually lives there wants to be taxed without being represented, or that places like Wyoming and Alaska get votes when DC doesn't, or that the politicians rarely live there yet get to make all of the decisions. The same people who complain about "their" tax dollars being wasted on DC bitch about problems with the Metro (which is about to get $150M in sorely-needed funding taken away). They complain about how lazy government workers are and turn around and complain about the people who work there being rude or in a hurry to get to those same tax-funded jobs. They talk about the residents (read: black people) as government sponges or crackheads when the majority of them--Mayor-for-Life Barry notwithstanding--are neither, and make up a significant portion of the workforce supporting their futures. They complain about money being spent on the EPA or NEA or Smithsonian and then bitch about the traffic and pollution or museums being crowded or poorly air-conditioned.

These are all arguments that I've heard from the mouths of tourists multiple times every year. So don't tell me to deal with it or that they're not trying to ruin my lives, especially not when every couple of months I have to tell some yahoo to stand on the right or not block the sidewalk and get the muttered (and occasionally yelled) comment that their tax dollars pay my salary.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Any comparisons between driving and walking are ludicrous. Drivers should follow all the rules because cars kill lots of people every day. Walkers do not kill people every day.

I can't give you a number of readers specifically causing injuries

That's because it does not happen.

Thinking about this more, is "pedestrian rage" a "real thing" (in the US) anywhere outside of New York City? Miami, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco (LA? ha) ... I don't think so.

I think part of the disconnect here is that for 99% of the US, slow walkers, blockers, etc. are merely mild annoyances, whereas in places like NYC, where the sidewalks are literally too small for the number of people walking, slow walkers and blockers become 100x more annoying.

Well, I can't say for sure because I have no idea where you're walking, who's around you...

Of course. I would not walk and read on Canal St. at 1pm. I can walk and read in San Francisco almost anywhere, anytime but Chinatown or during events (see below). (Oh yeah, you fast walkers who get annoyed by blockers, take a trip through Chinatown on foot at 3pm. Have fun.)

There's also a big difference between event traffic (ballgames, subways, parades) and general street foot traffic. In the former, you're trying to squeeze a large number of people through a bottleneck(s). In the latter, people are going every which way.

When the insurance companies try to recover your (or the helmetless biker's) medical costs from the City or State because they maintain the roads/sidewalks you bailed on while not paying attention though? That's taxpayer dollars.

Wut?

we're travellers, not tourists

Excellent comment. Encapsulates much of the mentality here -- our way is right; yours is wrong.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:01 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Walkers do not kill people every day.

Well, not EVERY day, no. I have a day job, after all.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:05 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rush hour is for commuters. COMMUTERS. Not for tourists, not for moms going to hit up whatever new shop is for moms with hip little babies.

I could get my rage on about this comment, though.


Hear hear. I was in a bad accident a few years ago and was in a wheelchair for several months. My wife, 4-month-old daughter, and I had to temporarily relocate b/c I couldn't use our old apartment. However, my wife had just gone back to work, and our daycare was back in our old neighborhood.

My wife had to take our daughter across town on BART every day, then commute back downtown for work. She threw out her back because she had to be the primary childcare provider. Please don't give her or anyone else shit for using a stroller on the subway during rush hour. Again, you don't always know the whole story.

Rush hour is not for commuters. The streets and public transit are for everyone, everywhere, at all times. It's meatspace net neutrality. What, a woman with a stroller or a drunk, disabled guy slowed you down a minute? If a minute delay ruins your day, you've got bigger problems. If that minute delay made you miss a train that cost you 30 minutes, don't wait until the last minute to catch your train.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:12 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, this is really basic. It is illogical, on one hand, to get pissed off at people who do not pay attention to their surroundings while they are walking, and on the other hand claim that it is acceptable to read a book or a newspaper while walking on the street. It's absolutely hypocritical, and the earlier you accept this, the earlier you will be able to reconcile the fact that you are someone else's idiot. While you are mentally cursing at the tourist shoppwer who's taking up a whole sidewalk with their bags, some other guy is mentally cursing you for almost bumping into them because you are paying attention to a book.

Yes, driving while distracted is less safe than walking while distracted, but that doesn't make the latter practice wholly polite or acceptable.
posted by muddgirl at 8:15 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I lived in New York I always made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are.

Wow. We've actually found a new level of arrogance, beyond just "I'm more important than everyone" - you are arrogant to the point that you believe you have actual clairvoyance.

Good riddance.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 AM on February 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


The only slow walker getting called an asshole in this thread was the person who said that he deliberately gets in front of people trying to walk fast and stops suddenly because he thinks their "hurry" isn't real and needs to be punctured. That's the asshole behavior, not walking slowly because that's your walking pace.

If you're referring to escabeche, that's a mischaracterization of his comment. Here's what he or she actually wrote:

"When I lived in New York I always made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are."

There's a huge difference between intentionally stopping in front of people and walking slowly and stopping to look at things. (Admittedly, he or she was ambiguous about the nature of his or her stopping.)

Walking slowly, moving off to the side and stopping, setting an alternate model of behavior than the dominant. There's nothing inherently wrong or assholish there. (IMO)

I think your inferences expose your bias here.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:20 AM on February 16, 2011


OK, fine, you guys, I didn't actually get in people's way on purpose. I walk at a normal pace, in New York and elsewhere. Intentional obstruction was more of a fantasy brought on by the head-down "I'm walkin' here!" crowd constantly jostling me when I was walking at a walking speed. But it was trolly of me to present it as my actual practice.

I will concede that I have, on occasion, slowed down my car when someone was obnoxiously tailgating me. But only long enough to get the message across.
posted by escabeche at 8:21 AM on February 16, 2011


Oh, and:

for me, it helps a lot to consider the case of walking behind somebody smoking a cigarette. Surely, for a non-smoker, this is 1000x more foul than walking behind somebody going slower than you like. But what are you going to do? People have to smoke somewhere. You just speed up and get around them so they're not smoking in your face and you get on with your life.
posted by escabeche at 8:25 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're referring to escabeche, that's a mischaracterization of his comment. Here's what he or she actually wrote:
"When I lived in New York I always made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. People in New York think they're in a much bigger hurry than they actually are."
There's a huge difference between intentionally stopping in front of people and walking slowly and stopping to look at things. (Admittedly, he or she was ambiguous about the nature of his or her stopping.)

Walking slowly, moving off to the side and stopping, setting an alternate model of behavior than the dominant. There's nothing inherently wrong or assholish there. (IMO)

I think your inferences expose your bias here.
He didn't say he happed to walk slowly and stop a lot. He said he made a point of walking slowly and stopping a lot. If you're making a point of something, you're doing it intentionally. He also said nothing whatsoever about moving to the side to stop, just stopping frequently.

And, on preview, just now he disclaimed, noting that he was describing a fantasy of intentional obstruction.

I think my inferences were plenty accurate.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:33 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rush hour is not for commuters. The streets and public transit are for everyone, everywhere, at all times. It's meatspace net neutrality.

Uh, no. Otherwise there would be no need for HOV lanes, or increased bus and train frequency, or commuter rail, or anything else specifically designed for people to commute daily. And "meatspace net neutrality?" (1) My eyes can't roll hard enough, and (2) extra nerd cred revoked for using the term incorrectly. If we use that metaphor, you're advocating people stealing your bandwidth to slow you down.

What, a woman with a stroller or a drunk, disabled guy slowed you down a minute?

Only one or two of us are saying the problem is the woman with the stroller or a disabled guy instead of the able-bodied, arrogant, uncaring, and ignorant. So, please, lose the strawmen if you're not trolling the thread.

If a minute delay ruins your day, you've got bigger problems. If that minute delay made you miss a train that cost you 30 minutes, don't wait until the last minute to catch your train.

Do you not have a job? Because otherwise this comment doesn't make sense. I can think of several reasons off the top of my head:

- The train/bus/ferry/whatever isn't arriving or leaving on time. In the personal experience of myself and everyone I know, this happens well over half the time (I'd estimate >75% personally).
- There's no posted arrival or departure time, or it's incorrect. Google "WMATA PID" for multiple examples of this just in one metro area.
- There is a problem with the commuter service or infrastructure. Again, this happens every single day where I live.
- Unforeseen delays in your departure time (last-minute phone call from boss, meeting went over, kid started barfing Exorcist-style, etc).

So, yes, a minute delay from any of the dozen or so factors in play can ruin anyone's day due to circumstances outside their control.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:34 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only one or two of us are saying the problem is the woman with the stroller or a disabled guy instead of the able-bodied, arrogant, uncaring, and ignorant.

Because you can always tell who the disabled and ablebodied are, amirite?
posted by immlass at 8:43 AM on February 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


And anyway, the bulk of the ire in here isn't directed at these people:

"I'd love to walk faster, but I've got arthritic knees and it's painful, but I try to stay on the edges of the sidewalk."

"I got bad directions and when I got out of the subway, I was thoroughly confused because I was told to turn left when I got out of the subway but turning left would have sent me walking facefirst into a wall, so I was really puzzled and blanked out for a minute."

"I was trying to manouver a stroller up the stairs because I was bringing my twins to the sitters' place and ordinarily would have taken my car but some asshole had run into it overnight and I could get it to start."


It's directed at these people:

"I got out of the subway and WOW, Times Square looked AWESOME, and I just had to stop and take it all in."

"Lindsay and Britney and me were out at the Sephora in Times Square and when we came out we saw Becky and Jennifer and they told us about how OMIGOD Trisha Spenders had just bought a Members Only jacket, can you believe it, and I had to ask them about what was up with that, because really? And then would you believe we saw Michelle and her boyfriend (cuuute!) and she said that she heard Justin Bieber was going to be there that day but her boyfriend said he thought it was going to be tomorrow and then Becky was trying to figure out what day it was so we could maybe see if we could stay there, except then Britney got a phone call from her brother and we asked her to look it up on her iPhone because she gets a way better plan than us, but she wanted to talk to him about something else and..."

"We'd all gotten out of the restaurant and were trying to figure out what bar to go to next, except we all then started talking about the Middleburg account instead except for Chad who kept trying to herd us all to the curb."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, come on. Don't argue nonsense hypotheticals. Most of the grievances were about easily discernible careless behaviors. No one is going to change anyone here.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


(directed at comments above EmpressCallipygos's comment, which was spot on)
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on February 16, 2011


Do you not have a job?

I get to work by 7am every day. Sometimes there are train delays and I am late. I manage. I realize that some employers' practices are not very reasonable and that is unfortunate.

It's directed at these people

It's directed at these imaginary people.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:47 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we at least all agree that Justin Bieber fans are the root of all evil in the known universe?
posted by elizardbits at 9:02 AM on February 16, 2011


I will concede that I have, on occasion, slowed down my car when someone was obnoxiously tailgating me. But only long enough to get the message across.

Yeah I know: the only thing worse than a tailgater is someone in front of me driving too slow.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:09 AM on February 16, 2011


Because you can always tell who the disabled and ablebodied are, amirite?

If you're capable of moving faster than those getting off a train, yes. And if you're able to use an escalator, regardless of disability, then you should know the stand on right rule. If you choose not to, then you fall into the aforementioned ignorant/uncaring/arrogant category of guilt. But, hey, why ignore the obvious when you can just be contrary, amirite?

I get to work by 7am every day. Sometimes there are train delays and I am late. I manage. I realize that some employers' practices are not very reasonable and that is unfortunate.

So if you're aware of multiple factors that can affect a commute even when one isn't leaving at the last minute, then why post your comment above?

It's directed at these imaginary people.

No more or less than your assumed woman with stroller or drunk disabled guy.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:13 AM on February 16, 2011


I had quite a lot of road- or sidewalk rage. I still do on some days when I feel I want to behave like a two year old, as that can be briefly satisfying. But eventually I realised this: Rage does not make anything better. It just puts you in a foul, selfrighteous mood (and probably other people too, as you air your peevishness). And what's more, it's your own bloody fault.

You, angry pedestrian. Nobody is making you angry. You are angry because you think you have a right to be angry. You are angry because you think it is your right that people walk at a reasonable speed infront of you and don't impede your way with frivolous slowness. But it's not your right and it's not something you can control.

The dumbness of masses is a bit of a natural phenomenon. You get a crowd, you get a number of dumbasses. Some are just dumbasses for the day (happens to all of us), some are perennially stupid. And you're like the guy railing at the weather. Well, perhaps you have a bit more effect on the dumbasses than the weather, because you too can piss them off just like they pissed you off. But in general, all you will do is add to the level of pissed offness in you and the world, and the dumbness will continue. Like the weather.

I stopped getting angry at slow people in general as soon as I realised that the only person making me angry is ME.
posted by Omnomnom at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


As a general aside (since this is the net's hotspot today for people who are attuned to sidewalk etiquette), can anyone confirm whether or not I am imagining this or if this is a Real Thing (and an Annoying Thing)? It seems to me that when two friends/acquaintances/classmates/whatever have a chance meeting in the street and pause to talk, they will inevitably and unconsciously position themselves to obstruct the flow of traffic as much as possible. That is, if they approach each other from 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock, they will arrange themselves at 3 and 9 for their little tete-a-tete. Confirmation bias?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2011


If you choose not to, then you fall into the aforementioned ignorant/uncaring/arrogant category of guilt.

Guilty of what? Not knowing the rules? Being unable to get to the right because people in a hurry are shoving past (number one problem with NY subway escalators IME)? Or, really, inconveniencing you by being disabled/lost/unfamiliar with local landmarks/not used to public transit/spending their tourist dollars in your town in your way? Omnomnom nailed it: the people with the problem are the ones who are letting themselves get so mad they have to be shitty on the sidewalk, just like the drivers who honk and tailgate deliberately and otherwise show road rage are the problem. You control your own temper (not to mention how tight you cut your commute). If you can't or won't do that, it's not other people's fault.
posted by immlass at 10:01 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Omnomnom did hit the nail squarely. Surprised it took this long.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:08 AM on February 16, 2011


I get sidewalk rage, yes, but I think it's funny that this doesn't exactly translate to when I'm driving. When I lived in uber-rural Virginia, I had to drive on some scary twisty roads, at night, with no street lights. Not infrequently, I'd find myself being tailgated by Johnny Shotgun in his pickup truck trying to go 30mph over the limit around the tight turns. If I was able to pull over to let them pass, I would. If this wasn't an option, I'd just force myself to drive not one god damned bit faster just to try to please Mr or Ms Dickface behind me. I wouldn't drive slower to make them mad, but I knew people who did, and their chutzpah amazed me.
posted by wowbobwow at 10:42 AM on February 16, 2011


You, angry pedestrian. Nobody is making you angry. You are angry because you think you have a right to be angry.

Wait, no. That's incorrect. That's not how emotions work.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:46 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, genuine non-trolling question here, for parents: why are today's strollers so big? They seem like they'd be too bulky to deal with on the pushing end of things.
posted by wowbobwow at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2011


why are today's strollers so big? They seem like they'd be too bulky to deal with on the pushing end of things.

A lot of them ARE too bulky.

I recently ended a nanny position for a 2 1/2 yr old boy who was, literally, the size of a kindergartner. He was so big that he could put his feet down in a normal collapsible stroller (aka the "umbrella stroller") and the only other stroller the family owned was a jogging stroller.

That stroller was so big that I couldn't get into my car. Not just the trunk, I couldn't get it into the front seat of my car without grunting and cursing, and after 25 weeks of pregnancy, I couldn't smoosh it in there at all. Pushing it was awful. It didn't really "steer" as such. Took up way too much space in store aisles. I suppose if I was actually jogging, it would have been fine, but it was totally awful in every way.

Size was a huge concern when choosing the stroller for Soon-To-Be-Babby. I went out of my way to find one that was big enough to hold a diaper bag in the basket and sturdy enough to push through snow, but small enough that it would FOLD INTO THE TRUNK OF A CAR FOR THE LOVE OF DOG.

Yeah, I wield strollers professionally and don't understand why they need to be so big. I will say though that the three wheel tripod models steer better than four wheel strollers, and those do tend to have bigger frames. But seeing people pushing those GIANT stroller "systems" with attached car seat? Yeah, baffles me. Not sure why anyone needs that much stroller, but people around me seem to also choose more car than they really need, so whatever.
posted by sonika at 11:07 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a general aside (since this is the net's hotspot today for people who are attuned to sidewalk etiquette), can anyone confirm whether or not I am imagining this or if this is a Real Thing (and an Annoying Thing)? It seems to me that when two friends/acquaintances/classmates/whatever have a chance meeting in the street and pause to talk, they will inevitably and unconsciously position themselves to obstruct the flow of traffic as much as possible. That is, if they approach each other from 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock, they will arrange themselves at 3 and 9 for their little tete-a-tete. Confirmation bias?
It's probably partially confirmation bias. It's probably also that people doing this are still in the mental space where they will be continuing on their way. They're not really approaching from 12 and 6, because there's the lane offset.
| A |   |
| v |   |
|   |   |
|   |   |
|   | ^ |
|   | B |
(Fig. 1)
And then they come even with one another, and don't leave their "lanes", because they'll be on their way in a moment.
|   |   |
|   |   |
| A>|<B |
|   |   |
|   |   |
(Fig. 2)
Hence the appearance of now being at 3 and 9. Since the people doing this percieve themselves at pausing, they don't think of it as obstructing two "lanes" because how could anyone be conveniences by them stopping for "just a second".

The confirmation bias comes in because you don't notice the people who do this:
|   |   |
|   |   | A
|   |   | v
|   |   | ^
|   |   | B
|   |   |
(Fig. 3)
because they're not in your way, and are thus simply part of the landscape.

I run into this a lot when I staff conventions, because fire codes require us to keep the hallways clear, but nobody doing a Fig. 2 likes to be told to switch to Fig. 3. Meeting friends is such fun that it doesn't feel like you've just been blocking the hallway for fifteen minutes, except to the people having trouble getting past. (And, if you've ever been one of these people, believe me, we don't like having to tell you to move, either. It's not personal, just crowd control.)

I think this is also a cause of the habit of clustering at a crossway (which is one of the worst places to cause a blockage), because the additional traffic makes it a place where you have the greatest chance of seeing George, who you haven't seen in ages. Hey, George, over here! We'll just take a second at say hi! (Hint: it never takes just a second to say 'Hi".)
posted by Karmakaze at 11:08 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I stopped getting angry at slow people in general as soon as I realised that the only person making me angry is ME.

Attaining enlightenment is not necessarily quite so easy for the rest of us, Siddhartha. We urge you to have patience with our attachment to our anger, for it is part of our humanity that we are not yet able to shed.

Namaste.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:40 AM on February 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: you are someone else's idiot
posted by redfisch at 12:48 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is exactly what the article was talking about, by the way - we assume that everyone else is an "idiot"

Not at all. I never assume someone is an idiot. I decide they are after I see them acting like an idiot - as in the examples I gave. Of course, I'd be fascinated to hear examples of how it is possible to stride down a busy sidewalk, head down, tapping away on a cellphone and not be an idiot. I'd be vastly entertained to hear how it's possible to congregate in a doorway for a conversation instead of somewhere out of the way of others and not be an idiot. Do share.
posted by Decani at 1:09 PM on February 16, 2011


My question is: Where are you going that's so fucking important?

My question is: are you seriously so unempathetic and unimaginative that you struggle to accept that other people may, in fact, be going somewhere really important?
posted by Decani at 1:13 PM on February 16, 2011


Well, they might not be idiots, but assholes. That is, they might know they're in the way, but not care.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:13 PM on February 16, 2011


You are angry because you think you have a right to be angry. You are angry because you think it is your right that people walk at a reasonable speed infront of you and don't impede your way with frivolous slowness. But it's not your right and it's not something you can control.

What? I have every right to be angry, and so does everyone else. Being angry and/or annoyed isn't a means to accomplishing anything, it's a perfectly normal emotional reaction. Anger and annoyance aren't supposed to accomplish anything in themselves. The part you don't have a right to is assaulting someone out of that anger, but shouting "GTFO of the way, jackass!" is every bit as much within your rights as walking 5 abreast down a busy sidewalk is. I mean, good for those of you who have been able to transcend the petty annoyances of walking around in crowds and all, but don't tell me I have no right to shoot daggers at the idiot standing in the aisle at the front of the bus right next to the "Please Move To The Back" sign.
posted by Hoopo at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I avoided reading this because I knew it was total TRIGGER WARNING for me, but it got linked again from somewhere else so I had to.

I have two general vexations: The first is that absolutely no one can text and walk. No one. Everyone gets weavy and stupid.

The second is going to the farmer's market, which is like a hellacious mise-en-place of everything PEDESTRIAN FAIL. There are vacant bourgie assholes, endless klatching yuppies, an overabundance of people with terrible luggage theories (your fucking stroller is not to carry gourds), unattended skittering children, unpredictable darting, hipsters meandering, scores of texters, general slow walkers… Everything.

My girlfriend and I joke about teaching a class in Advanced Walking so that people learn how to move out the fucking way instead of just stopping short, how to side-step, how to never fucking text while walking, and other essentials for not making anyone want to stab you on a public sidewalk.
posted by klangklangston at 2:00 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the "meeting the person coming toward you dance."

You know the one where you both decide to step to the same side to avoid each other and then do it one or two more times. I actually enjoy that. It always end in smiles and apologies. At least for me.

A dance with a total stranger on the street. It should happen more often.
posted by Splunge at 2:12 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know the one where you both decide to step to the same side to avoid each other and then do it one or two more times. I actually enjoy that. It always end in smiles and apologies. At least for me.

The best time that happened to me was one night in West Philly. I'm walking toward this woman, and move to the right to let her pass, but she does the same thing, we both move to the other side at the same time, then we both go back at the same time, you know, the standard weavey dance.

And then, on the last weave, calm as you please, the lady pulls her hand out of her purse, and I see the business end of a can of mace pointed straight at my eyes. No change in the woman's facial expression, either, just this totally stoney self-assured barely-raising-one-eyebrow kind of "Oh, we playin'?" kind of stare. I hustled myself way further to the right, off the sidewalk, and she strode right on by.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Klang: if you teach your course, let me know -- I will sign up for it. It looks like I could get some AP credit , so I will also hand out brochures to those in need I meet on the street.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:21 PM on February 16, 2011


Greg Nog Okay, maybe not so often...
posted by Splunge at 3:21 PM on February 16, 2011


Where I live, sidewalks are mostly about two people wide. If you come up behind two people walking together, and you want to go by them, you say "Excuse me." It's really not hard.

Do you guys really think that when you're walking down the street with your spouse or on a date or with your buddy, you should walk silently in single file instead of next to each other like normal people, just to make sure that anyone coming up behind you doesn't have to speak to you?
posted by escabeche at 3:42 PM on February 16, 2011


On a crowded NYC sidewalk in midtown during rush hour? Yes.
posted by Splunge at 4:00 PM on February 16, 2011


Do you guys really think that when you're walking down the street with your spouse or on a date or with your buddy, you should walk silently in single file instead of next to each other like normal people

No, I think that every so often, since you ought to be aware that you're completely blocking the entire pavement, you should glance briefly behind you to check if you're in anyone's way.
posted by robertc at 4:02 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you guys really think that when you're walking down the street with your spouse or on a date or with your buddy, you should walk silently in single file instead of next to each other like normal people, just to make sure that anyone coming up behind you doesn't have to speak to you?

What I really think is that everyone should do their goddamn best to be aware of the world around them and realize how their actions might inconvenience others, instead of wandering along with their heads up their own asses. Why is a minimal bit of mindfulness so much to ask?
posted by elizardbits at 4:06 PM on February 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


That is, if they approach each other from 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock, they will arrange themselves at 3 and 9 for their little tete-a-tete.

Yes, I notice this all the time, I think that it's something to do with mentally leaving your escape route clear. The only time when it doesn't happen is when they're both looking at something else (eg. item in shop window) rather than each other. If I try to stay in front of someone who's stopped for a quick catch up then they move around to the side, so my approach now is to walk past them and then turn back towards them.

See also: queues at cash machines. One of the things I noticed when I first went to the US (this would have been Washington DC or Baltimore) was that the cash machines outside the banks were set at a 45° to the wall they were placed in, meaning the queue went along the street instead of across it like it does almost universally in the UK.
posted by robertc at 4:23 PM on February 16, 2011


A dance with a total stranger on the street. It should happen more often.

Not if the total stranger actually physically grabs you as if he's trying to slow dance with you, the way some jackass kid did to me in Port Authority a month ago while his friends stood around and laughed while I angrily shoved him off.

.....But that's a separate issue entirely. I digress.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2011


MC Abdominal has a song on the subject.
posted by hades at 4:57 PM on February 16, 2011


Do you guys really think that when you're walking down the street with your spouse or on a date or with your buddy, you should walk silently in single file instead of next to each other like normal people, just to make sure that anyone coming up behind you doesn't have to speak to you?

I was walking down a two-pedestrian wide sidewalk a couple years ago behind a couple of women ambling and taking in the meagre sights of Centretown in Ottawa. They seemed casually oblivious to me and anyone else. After ten seconds or so of waiting for acknowledgment of the large man behind then trying to get past, I realized they were blessed with a pleasant reverie where some of us have awareness of our surroundings.

I shuffled my feet, then cleared my throat, then said, "Excuse me." At the second "Excuse me," they looked over their shoulders as one, simultaneously muttered, "sorry, "and with a precision that would impress Busby Berkely, the woman on the left stepped back and to the right and the women on the right stepped forward and to the left and they resumed their formation.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:55 PM on February 16, 2011


But really I'm here to derail because I loved this -- this ZZtop-looking guy gets on with his ZZtop-style wife due to the instant image of a tall husky white guy with a really long beard, accompanied by his tall husky white wife with a really long beard . . .

ZZtop-Style Wives Club
posted by mrgrimm at 8:13 AM on February 25, 2011


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