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Pedestrian Plight

Being a pedestrian in an overcrowded tourism-driven city is just one of the entries in a long list of many things guaranteed to drive one to an early nervous breakdown. Tourists, you say? They surely can't be that much of a bother! Think again. As they wander down sidewalks, laden down with maps and photo-type cameras and video cameras (I recently saw a group of elderly tourists walking five abreast, each one of them with an identical camera hanging identically around each of their necks.&#41 they try to see everything. Everything. They stare with wonder at sidewalk planters, point at fast food restaurants, videotape buildings (not their friends in front of the buildings, but the buildings themselves — someone explain this one to me, please?&#41and in the process, they drift. In their little vacation-relaxation-filled worlds they drift, dreamlike, back and forth across the sidewalk, making it impossible to walk around them or through them since they, sensing your urgency in trying to pass, will subconsciously start drifting right into your path no matter which way you choose to go. Since any given group of them will generally walk next to each other instead of, say, two and two, staying to the right, this makes for a very frustrating rush-hour run for the bus.

There are also people who, as you quickly walk in a perfectly straight path down the five blocks of Montgomery Street, will just rush out of doors and dash out of coffee shops and jet around corners right into the straight-line stream of things causing one person, for some reason usually the person who has been walking in a perfectly straight line for the last 3 or so blocks, to have to swerve, perhaps into someone else's straight-line path. These are usually the same people who like to play Pedestrian Chicken, the silent stand-off wherein two people have ended up walking directly towards each other on the sidewalk, and neither one of them wants to be the "chicken" who has to step off the sidewalk into the gutter, or squeeze by a trash can, or generally just move out of the way of the other person in order to avoid the full body check that will inevitably happen. I am starting to believe that I am literally invisible to these people, because even though they are looking right at me, it's as if they think that their special superpowers will enable them to walk right through me. Suffice it to say, I usually always end up being the chicken. I hate that.

Posted in Scowls.

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