I’m not what anyone would call “athletic” or “outdoorsy” or “mobile” but I have been known on occasion to put one leg in front of the other in a not-indoor capacity. And like any other activity that involves encountering humans, I have a walking related pet peeve.
I know that not everyone is blessed with spatial awareness, but it boggles the mind when people treat the sidewalk as their own personal footpath.
You know the people I’m talking about — you’re walking on the right hand side of the sidewalk and they’re coming toward you. No matter how much you try to walk in a thin straight line, one foot directly in front of the other, you’re still taking up too much of their sidewalk.
Whether this be the couple that refuses to unlink their hands for a brief moment to walk single file, or the friends too absorbed in their own world to notice another human now walking in the ditch next to them, I definitely get the message — I am the lone sock without a match. I am the bottom half a hot dog bun. I am a single chopstick. Into the ditch I go.
I know it’s selfish, this irrational desire I have to walk on the sidewalk when I go outside, but I can’t help it. I grew up using them and counting the cracks in the pavement and singing songs about not breaking my mother’s back. The grass didn’t come with any songs. Or the ditch. I’ve got an attachment to it now.
For me it’s the epitome of that “us vs them” bitterness that can crop up between coupled folks and single folks.
If you’re in a couple perhaps you’re wondering why that single person so dogmatically insists on breaking up the closeness the two of you are sharing. After all, you’ve passed a lot of singles on the sidewalk. Are you supposed to unlink your arms for all of them? Can’t they just be good enough to ever so quickly walk on the side of the road? I mean, it’d be nice to not go to all that extra trouble of switching up your pace to walk behind someone and then catch up again!
Really what it always boils down to is a lack of understanding, and a lack of consideration on both sides.
Have you ever walked past someone walking their dog? Now they get it. Every time I pass a dog walker they are the first to move off the sidewalk. Some even stop walking and hold their dog on a tight leash. In part it’s because they’re not just thinking of themselves, but also of the reaction of their dog and the potential unknown reaction of the pedestrian passing. They’re absorbed in otherness so that they avoid any kind of incident.
How hard can that possibly be? I ask this mainly of myself, also consciously aware that the next time I go outside and I’m confronted with a couple I’ll have to work through that unnecessary, irrational resentment that they think they’re entitled to more of the world than I am.
After all, while we’re both fighting over the concrete, all three of us miss out on that gorgeous soft green grass.
Maybe not NOW, in February, but give it a few months.