Saturday, January 30, 2010


Travelling by foot on a sidewalk, in general, should be simple. Left foot, right foot, repeat. Sadly, often times getting from point A to point B, both quickly and efficiently, becomes an exercise in futility coated with pure frustration as you end up dealing with varying obstacles, which can include some of the most annoying people in the universal history of all peoples. I’ll go through a brief list of obstacles you may encounter, and how best to deal with them.

The most common encumbrance is that person that you’re heading straight towards, face to face. You know, and then you both try and dodge each other, but end up manoeuvring towards the same side, and then you both go back the other way, and then back again, and part of you is worried that maybe a kiss might happen, but then that excites you maybe just a little, and you feel like you’re dancing or some shit? Apparently the reason that this happens sometimes is that some peoples’ brains are wired so that they instinctively go left to dodge someone, or something, and some people go right. The times when you do a little dance (and perhaps make a little love) is when you face someone wired the opposite of you. It’s true I took a sociology class once and, during the one class that I went to, they said something in that general ballpark’s vicinity. The worst case is when you both end up coming to a complete stop. Has it ever happened that after the stop, when you try to resume, you end up both going the same way again?

“Whoa geez, huh, whoops, oh well, oops, sorry, ha ha wait again?, ok just…, my bad?”

And why is everyone always so angry and annoyed at the other person? It’s just as much your own damn fault for moving in the opposite direction as the other guy. I know, you think, "everyone should dodge the same way as me". But that’s being a little egocentric, no? Granted sometimes both of you end up laughing about it. And it becomes a grand story to tell.

“And then I went one way, and they went… that’s right, the same way as I did.”


I wonder if any love stories started that way. Seems to me that in cruddy movies that could happen. They bumped into each other because they were in a rush, and neither of them tried dodging the other, and then they hated each other. But guess what? Ninety minutes later they make babies or something. Here’s the solution to all of this (well, not the cruddy movies, those will still get made), just jump over them. Simple, quick and efficient, like Sonic the Hedgehog. If they also jump, it risks being a painful game of face to face leap-frog gone wrong, but at least it will be a good story to tell for the other people on the sidewalk.

“Remember when those two people bounced into each other? Dat shit was old-school, like the Mario Brothers n'shit.”

Another frequent occurrence is being behind the group of people in a solid straight line, taking up the whole sidewalk width wise, walking super slowly and chatting away. It’s like that scene in Reservoir Dogs, but they’re actually moving in slow motion, for reals. Also, instead of witty dialogue, it’s a really awful conversation about whatever they all do for a living together, or whatever. Why is that guy laughing so loud? Fuck, sooooooo slow! It seems like every time you try and go around them, someone is coming from the other direction, or for some reason, the sidewalk suddenly narrows, or, “look out ahead!” it’s a mailbox, or lamppost, or fire hydrant, or street sign, or open sewer, or phone, or tree, or metal grate with an opening full of dirt where there used to be a tree.

Unless you have a “go around them by walking directly on the road or grass” option (be careful for traffic and/or snakes!), often times your best option is to try and break through the middle of the line-up. I find that turning slightly sideways sometimes helps, unless you are wider when turned sideways. In this case, stay normal. Sometimes if I’m coming up behind a group like this, I will yell “scatter” really loud. They often don’t actually scatter, but they will usually stop in shock, and I can easily get through them. Remember, if at some point you look around and realize that you are part of a group like this, do the mature thing, and tell everyone to line-up single file and to wait until you’re at your destination to have a little chitty chat.

Annoying couples that refuse to walk fast or disconnect hands are the kind of the dumps too. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is every couple, it’s not. When my wife and I walk, we’re an efficient walking machine. We dodge, we manoeuvre, and we walk really fast, together. We’re actually going somewhere, as a team. We take cues from one another and follow each other’s leads. Sure, we hold hands a lot, but we’re always quick to detach if it’s clear that we are about to clothesline someone. On a big sidewalk, these clingy coupley types are usually not a big problem. They move slowly, and shouldn’t take up too much space, so they are easy to get around. In the case of a smaller sidewalk where you absolutely need to break through, just treat it like a game of Red Rover.

“Red Rover Red Rover, what’s that? You done called me over? Aw, hot diggity dawg, Charrrrrrrge!”

Always look menacing and scream like a pirate (apparently). It increases your chances of breaking the chains of love. The only couple worse than the non stop hand holding walkers are the ass holding walkers (extra demerits if the hands are actually down the back of the pants). If you are a part of an ass holding couple, please break up, then wash your hands.

Winter makes every sidewalk a smaller sidewalk. The snow clearage is often only done for half of the sidewalk, so one half clear, and the other half becomes a little snow hill or fort. You also end up with this little tunnel that has next to no manoeuvrability. It’s the walking equivalent of being on those two-way highways behind an old person driving a huge fuckin' Buick. You have this long line-up of people behind some slow ass, and in the odd chance there’s a window of opportunity to pass, only a couple people manage to get by at a time. Here’s a solution: Wear snow pants and walk in the god damn snow. Whistle the tune of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” if that helps at all. Every walk will feel like an adventure. Have a compass and walking stick in case you get lost. Also you can throw snowballs at the people stuck in the sidewalk-snow-tunnel. You’ll be from an elevated position, giving you the advantage, like Ed Harris taught us in ‘The Rock’.

“I just... I just wanna find some rockets!” said Nicolas Cage to James Bond.

Winter also offers icy sidewalks, which can be real time-murderers. You have to take those little elf steps! Long strides on ice lead to wipe-outs. Usually half way into the winter you’ll start worrying that, come spring, you might actually have forgotten how big your normal steps are. Don’t fret. You’ll always end up remembering.

Jaywalking is also an important tool that you need to master to gain an advantage on most pedestrians. If you always wait for the little flashing man to tell you to walk, you’ll end up walking inside of big crowds after every traffic light, struggling to break free from the pack. If you are in Montreal, make sure that there are no MUC Police peoples around, as they occasionally give tickets for jaywalking. I’ve also heard horror stories of certain countries where jaywalkers could even serve time in jail, not just receive a fine. So, jaywalk responsibly, and don’t get hit by a car. Getting hit by a car can seriously throw off your overall pace.

And how about those sudden stoppers? You know those people walking in front of you in the middle of the sidewalk that just suddenly stop? These are the same people that stop at the top of escalators or right after walking through a door. Are they so lonely that they crave the crotch to butt rubbing from a complete stranger? They’re just walking along and something catches their attention?

“Oh gee, look in that window! I guess I’ll just stop in the middle here and check it out. Say Alfie, did something just run into my ass?”

I’ve found that shoving is the only solution. Don’t worry if they’re elderly or a child. Those groups usually fall easier. Add in a real loud “HEY!” with the shove. Surprise is your friend.

The only thing I hate more than the sudden stoppers are the walking readers. Sometimes it’s not just books. I’ve seen people with huge open newspapers. Scream at them to “Look Out!” If this doesn’t get them looking up from their book or whatever, then trip them with a casual foot sweep. They won’t know what hit them. In fact, throw in walking Gameboyers with this group too. Hell, let’s add the walking Texters as well.

“i cant c u 2day @ lunch :( sum1 tript me g2g hosptial ttyl rofl”

Get it? They’re on the floor rolling and laughing, because I tripped them, win-win. You could always try relaxing, taking it easy, slowing down and not being in such a rush. But where is that going to get you? Well, I guess it would get you to the same place, just not as fast.

That’s it. Now, you go walk the walk.

1 comment: