Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pet Peeve of the Week: Slow and/or Zig-Zag Walkers

Get out of my way (please).This perhaps is one of the top three Pet Peeves of my life, much less the week. I generally believe that all people in the world fall into two camps: slow or fast walkers. If you are a slow-walker, you probably don't see why so many other people are nearly running all around you, when you are just trying to take a leisurely stroll and not break a sweat going from place to place. However, if you are like me, and have been a fast-walker since you could hold yourself upright, then you just don't understand why in the heck all these people are getting in your way when you're trying to get somewhere. Many people, including many of my own family members, think I'm just being rude when I am touring them around Chicago or walking through a store or whatever at twice their pace. What they and other slow-walkers do not understand is that it LITERALLY PAINS ME to walk slow. I cannot take it. If you want to know how to torture me, it is to force me to walk really slow in a large crowd for a few hours. I will just end up collapsing to the ground, sobbing.

What makes someone a fast-walker? I'm not sure, but it definitely ties to being a Type A personality, because a lot of my other high-strung peeps are fast-walkers. But not ALL of them, so I guess I have no scientific case here.

Here are specific examples of things that drive me insane:

1) People who refuse to stand over on the right on either an escalator or a moving walkway.

Yeah, you - MOVE.I WANT TO PASS YOU! SO DO A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE! Get out of my way! I do not believe that these things were invented to make people get even less exercise or be even more lazy. I think they were intended to just help people get places quicker in particularly crowded areas. I think people were intended to keep moving on them. And for some people, like the elderly, it's fine to rest a bit on these contraptions. But for everyone else, it's just common sense - stay to the right if you have no intention of moving on an escalator or moving walkway.

2) People who walk diagonally down the sidewalk or zig and zag all over the place so you cannot pass them.

This happens to me every day when I walk to the El: some fool is in front of me, and although the sun is shining brightly and my ominous shadow is quickly closing in on them, they continue to somehow make it impossible to pass by them because they are floating all over the sidewalk. Making it worse is that nearly everyone has on headphones, so they can't hear my throat clearing and other attempts to get them to move. Seriously, the rules of the road still apply when you are walking - let people pass you on the left and stay to the right if you are going to be moving slowly. On the way home, it's even worse, because then there are usually crowds of people moving en masse down my street. Nine times out of ten I end up walking in the street itself just to pass everyone. I can't take it.

3) Walking in any sort of crowd.

My brother will knock you over if you are standing on the left in DC!As mentioned above, being in this situaiton nearly causes me to have a nervous breakdown. When we recently went to the Fiona Apple concert, there were large numbers of people walking through the Museum Campus to get out to the outdoor pavillion. Everyone just spread themselves out to cover the width of the walking paths and it was an impenetrable shield of bodies that I could not get through. Then when you say, "Excuse me," so that you can pass by, they look at you with this expression of bewilderment like, "Was I walking *that* slowly?" YES! Yes you were, and it's interrupting my groove.

The only place I've ever been in my life where I think everyone is a fast-walker is Tokyo. I will never forget getting off of the train in the middle of the city, and honestly thinking there was a fire in the station because EVERYONE, and I do mean everyone, around me was sprinting. I wondered, "Holy crap, is there a fire in this station or something?" and then I said a version of the same question out loud to my client, who had been there several times before, and she said, "Nope, that's just how it is around here."

Therefore, I give props to the Japanese. They know how to get around!!!!

- e


Anonymous said...

I hate tourists that walk 3 or 4 abreast down a city sidewalk. Painful.

Good rant.

Anonymous said...

Amen! This is why we must MANEUVER! It's all about the hypotenuse.

Proud Papa said...

I LOVE this post. I LOVE this topic more than anything CUZ I CAN'T STAND SLOW WALKERS. I'm starting to run people over with my stroller (yay Will) because some people are just so slow it makes me want to cry. DO YOU NOT HAVE A DESTINATION????? I have broken up good friendships due to pace issues.

Anonymous said...

Excellent - I am a fast walker as well and it drives me batty to have to weave around people.

My addenda:

1) The standing on the left on an escalator is infuriating. I think people who do it KNOW they are thumbing their nose (or worse) at convention. Perhaps it's their petty way of sticking it to 'the man.'

2) People who barge into the el before letting people exit. Same holds true for elevators. Just stand to the side please.

3) Walking from the el to and from the office everyday - I go against the suburban mom pants/golf shirt crowd in black or brown tennies that they think can pass for dress shoes. Please...but the 'walking rant' is this:
They take up the WHOLE DAMN sidewalk, thinking that it is one-way and closed to oncoming traffic. Well, I muscle up and march in a straight line against them - not caring who I run into/over on the way. I've had quite a few full body-checks as a result. I never look back - even when they try to complain. I have a RIGHT to my little 24 inch wide path of sidewalk and no suburban loser will take that away from me!

Phew. I feel better now.

Anonymous said...

I am a fast walker for sure, but not a Type-A person. I live the pain EVERY DAY here in Tucson with all of these retirees! Be it on the road driving or the sidewalk. Just because THEY have no place in particular to go or be at a certain time, I DO!!!! I think there should be laws as to what hours these people are allowed to be out and about i.e Only from 9 am until 4 pm while the rest of us are at work!!!! AGGGHHHHH!!!!