Friday, December 23, 2011

Sidewalk Etiquette

A dreary day here in the Bluegrass got me to thinking about a subject that is often not discussed, but most certainly should be: sidewalk etiquette.

There are many types of etiquette (bathroom etiquette [click here to watch a lovely and informative piece on the subject], dining etiquette, golf etiquette, etc). In general, various types of etiquette are based on intersubjectively understood norms (i.e. you do NOT talk to to the guy at the urinal next to you). Granted these norms are occasionally broken, but these exceptions do not disprove the efficacy of the rule.

Sidewalk etiquette, however, is different. Any of you who have to trudge across a college campus know that at least a vast majority of college-aged kids are totally, completely, and utterly incapable of understanding the very basic rules of walking on a sidewalk. I find this to be an epidemic of such magnitude that it made my last sentence contain several redundant adverbs. Emphasis. It's all about the emphasis.

But what good does it do if I merely complain about my sidewalk miseries? None good, is the correct answer. So I'm going to lay out a few simple rules and maybe you can share them with others who are pedestrianly handicapped.

Rule 1: Walk on the Sidewalk Like You Drive Car
Should be pretty self-evident. We are not in Great Britain. Pretty sure our Founding Fathers spilled their blood so that our coins would be reversed on the opposite side, our teeth could be straight, our version of The Office better than the original British version, and so that we could drive on the right-hand side of the road. It is your patriotic duty to uphold this legacy.

Rule 2: Don't Wobble
Somewhat connected to the idea of walking like you drive. This should be simple: stay in your imaginary sidewalk lane. Otherwise, those of us with places to go cannot know the proper way to pass you. I swear to God it's like some people have rear-facing Mexican Fruit Bat sonar. Without looking they can instinctively sense which way I'm trying to go around them and they start to weave that way. 

Rule 3: If Walking in Two's or Three's, Narrow it Down for Others
It seems that many people like to pretend they are in the Hell's Angels and walk together in groups analogous to the way bikers roll down the streets of dusty towns in the movies. It is really cool that you and your posse can take up the whole sidewalk while you talk about UFC or how drunk you got last night, but seriously move over before I spill your Monster Energy drink all over that kick-ass Affliction t-shirt. Thanks guys.

Rule 4: This Ain't the PGA, Get a Smaller Umbrella

I use a tiny umbrella. It's a Totes and it fits in my backpack's water bottle holder. It is really more to show everyone that I'm not an idiot and that I do indeed have an umbrella. Its use is an exercise in futility. That being said, I have no problem with people having bigger umbrellas, but there comes a point when the unnecessary size of some umbrellas creates a hazard for others. Also, I do not know who thought it was a great idea to put sharp, metal points around the perimeter of umbrellas at eye level, but I would like to meet such a sadistic individual. Huge umbrellas that double as vision-ending weapons should not have to be part of one's daily pedestrian commute to class or work. But alas, they are. My suggestion to those who use massive golf umbrellas that clear a sidewalk like the riot police? Get a smaller umbrella and save the rest of us. 

If everyone will follow these four simple rules, all of us can enjoy a happy, safe, and efficient sidewalk experience.