Matters of Etiquette: How to Walk #blog #rant #missmanners

To be frank, I’ve put off this post for a while, but I can’t put it off any longer. I walk in a stream of people, and, I kid you not, I cringe. Why? Because I’m always having to avoid running into people who aren’t paying attention. They’re text messaging, adjusting their clothes, staring at the sky (perhaps looking for aliens?), and–my personal favorite–standing there just taking up space on a busy sidewalk. Obviously, walking hazards are major pet peeve of mine.

What Did I Walk In This Room For?

The problem I see is that while humans generally have mastered the basic mechanic techniques of bipedal walking by age two or three at the latest, the concept of walking etiquette falls short. This isn’t an issue on a lonely road, sidewalk, or path. However, get a crowd together, and you’re in for trouble.

Therefore, I’m not-so-humbly proposing my rules for safely navigating sidewalks, footpaths, and other areas where mass quantities of humans seek to move unencumbered.

  1. Realize you’re not the only human in the stream. The ‘stream’ is the flow of human traffic, much akin to the flow of water in a river, and you are a molecule within that flow. Your actions inherently cause ripple effects. I base this concept on a show from the Science Channel which covered fluid dynamics and how they applied to traffic patterns. You remember when the Science Channel did science shows, versus reality TV? Kinda like when the History Channel did history biopics and not just Nostradomus end-of-the-world apocalyptic crap? Anyway, accept some responsibility for your impact on the stream. Yeah, that’s a bit meta. Move on. 😉
  2. Pay attention to your surroundings. It’s fine to check your smart phone, but be aware if you’re walking straight into oncoming people, physical obstructions (although it’s funny to watch people walk into poles, I must admit), or traffic for that matter. Also, this is a basic personal safety measure. If you’re on a nature trail you don’t want to be surprised by a mountain lion, right? Yeah…
  3. Walk in a predictable pattern on straightaways. Are you asking yourself, what the hell did she just say? I’m asking you to walk in a straight line, most of the time. Not around corners, when you need to turn, but when you’re walking down a block, stick to a line on the pavement and don’t weave back and forth like a drunkard. Let’s all just pretend you’re sober for the time being. Why? Because other people are walking next to you, and they’re likely walking at different speeds. If you wander all around you’re going to knock into them, or prevent them from walking past you, effectively blocking them if you’re a slow walker.
  4. If you decide to stop walking, move to the side of the walkway and then stop. How intuitive is this one? And yet, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost mowed down someone who was walking along at a fast pace in front of me. You’ve seen it happen too, I’m sure, and then the person who gets run over is always the one who’s pissed, as if they have the right. Can you fully blame the person behind them who had little to no warning? I don’t. If you stop with no warning, I’m gonna plow right into you, no questions asked, with my elbow square in your back. Fair warning.
  5. When walking abreast with friends, allow room for others to maneuver around you. This is similar to point #3, where basically the point is about not hogging the walkway and respecting everyone’s right to the space. Fairness and equality, and all that bull.
  6. If you pass someone because they’re walking slowly, don’t slow down in front of them afterwards. Do I even need to explain this one? It’s rudeness incarnate. You hate it while driving, why wouldn’t you hate it while walking?
  7. Respect the flow of movement. This is key, and will help you move faster through crowds. I’m assuming you’re paying attention to the people around you, who’s moving, and who’s not. If not, try it out for once. Avoid the stagnant areas and walk with the open areas, which tend towards the centers in very dense crowds.
  8. Don’t dump your trash/spit on the path. I don’t need to be stepping in it. Besides, who do you think is supposed to clean up after you? Seriously folks, don’t be a disgusting git, use a wastebasket like civilized people!
  9. Keep pets on leashes and near to your person in high traffic areas. I know, this blog is about walking, so why am I talking about pets now? Because I almost tripped over some chick’s tiny dog she had running around (she was chatting in the middle of the sidewalk, and wasn’t paying attention to what her dog was doing), her dog shot out in front of me, I tripped and almost injured it, and then she yelled at me for not watching where I was going! Anyway, I love pets, I’m sure you love yours too, so take good care of them, please.

Those are my rules. I urge you to adopt them as your own. Or feel free to add more in the comments below. Lay it on me. Don’t worry–if it’s too harsh I’ll just go for a walk. 🙂

  10Comments

  1. Steven Montano   •  

    +11,000 points to you for this post. Yes.

    You hit them all. People walk like they drive around here — with their heads firmly implanted in their own nether regions.

    • Candice Bundy   •     Author

      Thank you sir, I humbly accept your points!

      And yes, walking is just like driving! People pay just as much attention. Now, to make everyone bend to my will… 😉

  2. Heather Cole   •  

    I think about this all the time when I’m running in the park. You highlighted some of my pet peeves, especially the one about keeping pets close and not spreading across the path if you’re walking in a group. I’ve had several near crashes with small children on their bikes. Talk about careening!

    • Candice Bundy   •     Author

      Oh, good point about wee tykes learning to ride! They’ll hog the path too, if their parents don’t tell them to stick to one side. I know I’ve had to remind my kiddo to stay right, and I tell him if he doesn’t he’ll get run over and end up with something broken and bleeding. Because I like to keep it real, and hate trips to the ER. 😉

  3. Amber   •  

    People don’t do much walking around here (everything is too spread out, it’s too hot, it’s a lazy state…) so these rules are especially needed, because they apparently don’t know how since they do it so infrequently.

    • Candice Bundy   •     Author

      I’m afraid I agreed with you, because I’ve been to Florida, and more importantly, the adventure parks there. Whoa nelly! Standing around staring at the sky dumbfounded is not ‘walking’, FYI. However, it might be a sign of heat stroke. 😉 I recommend liberal use of drinking water, stat!

  4. Dawn   •  

    Let me add:

    When stopping to talk, do not block doorways, escalators, elevators, or other means to entrance/exit.

    When walking in a high traffic area during particularly high traffic times (ie commuter times), do not meander five across, thus blocking the entire sidewalk (or hallway etc). You may not be in a hurry, but you can bet everyone else is.

    Ladies – DO NOT BUY SHOES YOU CAN’T WALK IN. If you MUST have them, stick them in your bag until you are off the street.

    Keep you children close and mind the way they walk — even teenagers.

    • Candice Bundy   •     Author

      OMG, how could I miss SHOES! Yes, there are functional shoes, and then show off shoes. People trying to walk at a good clip in ridiculous shoes are insane. Note: I can walk darn fast in my shitkicker boots, so I’m off the hook on those. 😉

      Thanks for your additions, Dawn. Feel free to take down anyone stopping in the middle of an exitway in the case of fire. They won’t do it ever again, especially after the building burns down.

  5. Bill Olander   •  

    All of my inner suppressed bigotry happens when the person in front of me doesn’t know how to walk. I start picking appart their traits and applying them to some horrible theory as to why they are walking so slow. It takes me a moment to realize that no, I don’t hate “Those people”… I hate the person who is taking up the whole god damn sidewalk.

    It is a dark side I’d much rather ignore.

    • Candice Bundy   •     Author

      I understand what you’re saying, and it happens, totally! I think I’ve done it myself too. Identifying misplaced irritants helps solve the issue.

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