July 02, 2006

Road Rage on the Sidewalk

I hate driving in traffic. I always say I hate driving, but that's not true. I just hate traffic.

The same thing is true about pedestrian thoroughfares like sidewalks.

It seems to me that many, if not most, people are completely oblivious to their environment. They stand in doorways for extended conversations. They park their carts in the middle of the aisle while staring blankly at the shelf. They stand at the top of the subway stairs trying to decypher their MTA maps.

These things enfuriate me. Usually I just stop very near to them and stare at them until they move. Sometimes I will say 'excuse me' as I step past. In very close quarters, I will actually lay hands on strangers and guide them out of my path.

Maybe I pay too much attention to what's going on around me. Maybe I'm overly concerned with creating fast, efficient, frictionless paths of transit even if the mode of travel is by foot.

And I know I walk fast. My normal walking speed is above 4.5 miles an hour when I'm by myself. It seems that most people only walk at about three and a half miles per hour, max.

But no matter how I try to find fault in my own thinking or behavior, I just can't suppress my utter contempt for these people who seem to be willfully oblivious to everyone around them. If they're doing it on purpose, they're worthy of more than contempt. If they really are oblivious, I think they should shipped off to the Middle East or some island in the south Pacific where they can bumble around out of my way.

But at most I mutter curses about them. I rarely do anything more than a dirty look.

But this afternoon I did more than that.

I was leaving the movie theater (I saw Superman Returns) and foot traffic was heavy and slow. I was trying to work my way through the crowd when I approached a group of young girls from behind. Suddenly, two of them stopped and because they were walking shoulder to shoulder in a crowd, they caused everyone who was behind them to stumble and stop erratically to try to avoid hitting them.

Then they laughed.

I steamed a little at the juvenile behavior but quickly assessed how I would pass the knot of them and their friends.

I was about three paces behind them when they did it again. And laughed. The knot of people was growing larger and I was getting closer. People were staggering, trying not to hit them.

I got to be only a few feet behind them and they did it again. I saw they were holding hands. I needed no more indication that they were doing this on purpose.

I walked up until I was only about a foot behind the girl on the right. My left foot matched the cadence of her right leg. The girl could not have been more than 5'3", while I stand at 6'2", and I sensed that the widest part of my thigh lined up perfectly with her gluteals. She didn't know I was so close; she was too busy laughing with her friend at the chaos they were causing.

One pace.

I knew they would try it again.

Two paces.

Do it. Dare me to run into you.

She stopped. I didn't.

My leg connected firmly, but without a jolt, to her bottom and she swung wildy counter-clockwise as I passed to her right. She quickly regained her pace, but continued to stagger against her friends in shock.

I looked over my left shoulder and smiled down to her and spoke in a high, cheery voice, "Sorry!" And I shrugged with obviously feigned innocence.

It's not the same as a one way ticket to Islamabad, but I think she got a little of what she deserved.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at July 2, 2006 08:28 PM | TrackBack

Erik will be so proud of you!

Posted by: Sarah at July 3, 2006 08:46 AM
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