Walk This Way

Have you ever noticed that some people walk just about as inconsiderately as they drive? I can’t tell you how many times, just in the last week alone, that I have been almost run over by a careless pedestrian – either on the street, in a store, in a hallway...

Grocery stores are my absolute favorite; because there, not only do you have the individual person to contend with, but his/her wobbly, out-of-control shopping cart as well. There they are – a perfect pair – darting in and out of the aisles, making turns wide enough for an 18-wheeler, and then parking their merchandise squarely in the center of things so as to block the entire pathway. 

If you happen to be talented enough to negotiate this obstacle course, rest assured that the customer checkout line still awaits - and boy is that an enjoyable experience. It doesn’t matter how many lanes are open, or how few items you have – I, personally, always find myself being nudged from behind by the front of someone’s shopping cart. I guess they figure that the line will somehow move faster if there’s not a millimeter of available space between us. So, I move forward a few inches. So do they. I turn around and shoot them a look. They stare straight ahead. On a few occasions, I’ve been pushed to the point of remarking out loud, “Gee, I hope I’m not in your way or anything.” Even this goes unanswered.

The streets are no better. Around every corner, there is someone looking one way while walking the other, squeezing their way through nonexistent holes in the crowd in the effort to gain an inch (apparently, we’re all involved in some kind of top-secret marathon). Haven’t we seen this very behavior from drivers on every side street and highway in America at one time or another?  

It would almost be amusing, if it wasn’t so completely rude. And, while we’re on the topic, let me take the opportunity to set one thing straight: When approaching a stop sign at a corner, the correct procedure is to look LEFT, RIGHT, then LEFT again. The traffic nearest you isn’t going to be coming from your right side, so there’s no need to stare vacantly out the passenger window while rolling forward into oncoming traffic. You can look it up in the Driver’s Manual.

But back to pedestrians. It may not be “dangerous” to travel with so little consideration for others, but it can certainly become so once these same practices are transferred behind the wheel of an automobile. Perhaps it would be wise to adopt some better habits on foot?  

I’m not sure when or where we developed these so-called skills, but I’m willing to bet we weren’t taught to walk down the left side of staircases, to weave in and out of people and baby carriages and to use our shopping carts as if we were all entrants in some kind of demolition derby. Whatever the case, we’ve certainly picked up many bad habits over time.

So, the next time you’re out for a leisurely stroll – or, heaven forbid, to pick up a few groceries at the store – try to take a look around before lurching into the crowd.  

Or at least signal first.


{Published: October 15th, 2008}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment