Walking. You’d think, with it being one of the most basic forms of human movement, that people wouldn’t be so baffled by it. Every day, though, an alarming number of people prove that they JUST DON’T GET IT. “Come on; there can’t be that many people who don’t know how to walk,” you might think. It seems so simple. Well, go to a mall. Go on the subway. Walk on a sidewalk. And then report back to me about how many stupid morons you wanted to chuck into oncoming traffic.
Malls, for example. Malls are useful; they can even be fun (if you don’t work in one; trust me). They do provide a number of pedestrian obstacles, though. Like escalators. Escalators should be easy. They’re moving stairs. You step on, they move, you end up where you need to go. Judging from most people’s reactions to escalators, though, they might as well be goddamned alien transport devices, never before seen on Planet Holy Shit You People Are Stupid.
Subways and sidewalks? They’re a special hell for city dwellers, who are just trying to move about their lives, dodging clueless tourists and inconsiderate jerkwads, trying to make it through the day without killing anyone in a fit of unchecked rage.
Let’s take it step by step and see if we can’t work out a reasonable code of conduct for being able to locomote through life, using your own two legs as transport, while not being a total and complete asshole.
- Escalators are moving stairs. They move. The people on them move, even if they’re standing still. So when you reach the top of an escalator and JUST STAND THERE, not moving out of the way, people will pile up behind you like bottles on the broken conveyor belt at the soda factory. Keep your ass moving once you’ve gotten off the escalator. Coming to a dead stop and creating a traffic jam makes you a jerk.
- Escalators can be scary and overwhelming for children and stupid adults. If you or your child can’t figure out how to step on or off the escalator, and no one in your group is willing to assist so that the process is completed in a reasonable amount of time, take the damn elevator. It is not cute to have to “tread” escalator steps, stepping down and most likely crowding someone else on another step, because your special little snowflake is taking twenty minutes to step off the escalator because they’re scared it’s going to eat them, and you won’t help.
- Walking shoulder-to-shoulder with your group so that you take up the entire width of a sidewalk is an asshole move. You force other people to either have to step in a gutter to get past you, or to walk at an unnaturally slow pace because you’re shooting the shit, oblivious to the fact that you’re taking up the whole sidewalk. If you take up the entire sidewalk, you are a jerk.
- Similar to escalators, do not just stop walking in the middle of a sidewalk when you’re surrounded by people. Get your head out of your ass and move to the side.
- Stand right, walk left. Let me repeat that: stand to the freaking right, and walk to the freaking left. This applies to escalators, moving walkways, pretty much anything that is itself moving and also has people who are likely to be in a hurry to get somewhere. If you do not intend to walk as you approach your destination, stand to the right. If you are hauling ass to catch your train or flight, stay to the left. The main problem with this rule is that the walkers know it (they stay to the left!), but the standers don’t (they stand wherever they feel like it!). So you get a nasty clusterfuck of commuters in a rush and tourists ignorant of every single thing happening around them.
- Doorways are, well, doorways. They are narrow openings through which people must pass. In busy areas, many people pass through them in a short period of time. Therefore, stopping dead in your tracks in a doorway or directly on either side of one causes the aforementioned bottleneck clusterfuck. Proceed through the door and keep moving. Stopping in doorways makes you an asshole.
- If you are visiting a big city, chances are you want to walk around, look at things, see the sights. That’s great! Tourism is a vital part of any city’s economy. Please keep in mind, though, that people still live and work in these cities. They are not on vacation. Just keep that fact in the back of your head as you’re walking at a pace of approximately three feet per hour, oohing and aahing over adorable things in store windows and reading fascinating street signs and puzzling over your unnecessarily giant paper map. People need to move around you, and they need to do so with some urgency. Be aware that you aren’t blocking someone’s path on their way to their office, or to catch their bus. A courteous tourist is a tourist who is welcomed back.
- A word about strollers. I get it, I do. They’re necessary. What is not necessary, though, is ramming into people with them. Running over people’s feet. Using them as weapons to push your way through an otherwise orderly situation. Committing any sort of assault and either completely ignoring the fact that you did it, or excusing it away because you are just so goddamned important that everyone else needs to get out of your way or be mowed down by your Parental Assault Vehicle. Aside from being a terrible example for the child or children accompanying you, it’s dangerous, and it’s concrete proof that you’re a self-absorbed jerk.
- When in doubt, keep moving. It’ll save everyone a whole lot of aggravation.
- Keep your eyes open, your arms and bags close to you, your feet moving, and your common sense active. Be polite, and have some concept of spatial and situational awareness.
This post originally appeared (with considerably more cursing) at Nice Girls Don’t Swear.