Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Walking For Beginners

I’m a big fan of walking. If walking was a sports team, I’d be the one with the little pom-poms on the sidelines. If walking was a guy, I’d be writing Mr and Mrs Walking on my notebook, with little hearts over the ‘I’ of Walking.

(Actually, did anyone actually ever do that, the surname thing, or is it just one of those clichés? I mean, I had the obligatory posters of various rock stars and actors on my walls as an adolescent, but it never occurred to me that writing Mr and Mrs Slater on my notebook was a good way to spend time. Am I the odd one, here? I don’t think so.)

Where…oh, yeah. Walking is a good thing, and should be encouraged on all fronts. It’s cheap, it’s healthy, it’s environmentally friendly.

However. Judging by my attempt to navigate a crowded shopping strip at lunchtime, it is not easy. Never one to neglect my public duties, therefore, I’ve compiled a quick and easy guide to the Art of Walking.

1. You don’t need a destination. Walk for the sake of walking, that’s fine by me. I don’t seek to confine you in a destination-based paradigm. You do need a direction. That is, suddenly stopping short and walking backwards in order to – I assume – gaze at the dazzle of the shopping strip from a better vantage point, will earn you a hearty wallop from an umbrella. What can I tell you, ma’am? It was an accident.
2. Doorways, by their very nature, tend to be confined spaces. It may surprise you to learn that they are intended to act as passageways rather than meeting places. And yes, I realise it’s terribly important to stop and make sure that your friend has extricated herself from the shoe display (ha! Now I have a mental image of sentient Skechers, their little laces reaching out to entangle a hapless young thing in their midst…okay, moving on) and is joining you out on the street, but…could you maybe actually get yourself out on the street before stopping and waiting? Some of us have places to be that are not “hovering near the doorway waiting to exit”. Thanks so much.
3. Yes, it’s lovely that you have so many friends. You must be really popular, with your seventeen friends accompanying you shopping and all. Wow, it’s almost like you have an entourage. Seriously, I’m impressed. Now get the fuck out of my way.
(Okay, that wasn’t so much a walking tip as a bitchy little rant. These things happen)
4. Can someone tell me why the escalator rule has ceased to operate? The stand left walk right rule was pretty much ubiquitous when I grew up, and I’m not that old. Why does no-one follow it any more? I have, I’m not kidding here, missed trains because no-one would let me through on the station escalators before. Come on, folks, hustle.
5. Also, one that I saw this morning and is at least tangentially related: I have a lot of sympathy for old people who can’t walk fast and for whom getting across pedestrian lights in time is a challenge. I have less sympathy for old people who can’t walk fast, and yet decide to enter a pedestrian crossing (by the way, isn’t that phrase, “enter a crossing”, a little odd? It makes it sound more like a tunnel. Shouldn’t it be “step onto a crossing?” You don’t care. Okay then.) after the green man has turned to Mr Orange Don’t Walk, Run. And then all the traffic has to come to a complete stop and wait for them to complete their agonisingly slow hobble.

Okay, I feel better now.


Blogger Ange said...

The Stand Left/Walk Right thing is a standard in civilised cities. This is Adelaide. I'm sure it was quite normal where you grew up.

18 July, 2006  
Anonymous Jason B. Standing said...

The stand left/walk right rule is probably dissolving due to the number of people from Adelaide who've come over to London & done their 2 years working in pubs. Over here they have a Fiercely Enforced stand right/walk left rule on escalators (cunningly, walk left EVERYWHERE else)... so it's probably just a cocktail of confusion & apathy.

Or something.

20 July, 2006  

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