The art of walking (A HOW TO guide for walking in a city)



It’s been a while since I got a nice , ill tempered rant off…Summer is around the corner and my hatred is high right now, so, lemme go in.

Have you ever seen a toddler walk? It erratic. It’s like like a drunk person on roller blades. The great thing about being human and being on this planet is that, eventually, we learn to do things like walk. In fact, I wouldn’t even say we learn to walk as much as human nature leads us on the path to figuring it out. So, let’s be clear: walking is pretty fucking easy for most people. I’d like to think that, once you’re past toddling, you are a pure bred walker (barring physical defects or disabilities). With this in mind, it’s staggering (no pun intended) how so few adults have mastered the art of walking.

New york City is nothing if not a walking city. People don’t drive unless they have to. Because of this, the streets are extremely busy. Even side streets are often a traffic jam of people. However, like most car based traffic jams, there is always a reason for the back up. In the case of people walking around the streets, it’s not a jack knifed trailer or a 4 car pile up. No, it’s some dumb motherfucker who never learned to walk right.

I’m not the most patient person in the world. When I walk around, I plow forward. I don’t look at my immediate surroundings as much as I do the distance , as a means to plan my rout better. I’ll often walk right by people I know on the street without seeing them cause I’m simply not in that mode of thinking. This has led to occasional run in’s with a pile of well placed dog shit but, for the most part, it’s served me well as someone trying to get from point A to point B. But isn’t that the purpose behind walking anywhere? Getting from point A to Point B. Even in a casual stroll through the park, there is always a final destination.

Over the last 15-20 years I’ve noticed the ability to walk correctly amongst the typical NYC civilian has been in a state of regression. Add on the popularity of cell phones and it’s pretty infuriating just trying to get to the corner store without dodging some dickhead lazily texting while he sway-walks down the middle of the street. So, I’d like this to be a rule book for those of you out there…A HOW TO guide for people who have yet to master their stroll. Let’s look a little deeper.

The rules for walking in any city where people walk

1)If you’re texting, stop walking. Slide your ass over to the nearest wall of the nearest building, lean on it, and finish your typing. DO NOT saunter with your head down while you type. Of all the walking offenses, this is the most common. God forbid you get stuck behind a group of teenaged girls who are all tweeting/facebooking/instragramming/texting. You might as well just be walking behind an elephant.

2)If you are with a friend/friends/significant other , do not interlock hands or arms on a busy street. I take great joy in red rovering you motherfuckers cause you’re basically forming a roadblock for all people you pass by. The funniest shit is watching couples hold hands and act as , if they lose grip on the other , they will be sucked away by the undertow. I’m not a fan of hand holding in general but, if you gotta do it, do it when the streets are lightly occupied. Trust me, your partner does not love you less just cause you’re hands aren’t touching.

3)If you run into a friend on the street and start a conversation, do like the texting guy and push it to the side. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to walk around a crowd of people having a jovial convo on a heavily packed street like it with their backyard, I’d have enough money to buy a blow torch to fix the problem.

4)Respect the corner. NEVER stop and chat on the corner. It’s bad enough to do it in the middle of the street but the corner is crucial to all walking traffic. I see this the most with tourist groups who don’t have a clue where they’re going. Listen, I get it…new cities are big and confusing. I’ve certainly been to many places where I had no fucking clue where I was going. But there is a reason why benches and stoops exist. One of those reasons is for a group of lost people to get their bearings. If you’re in a group of people standing on the corner for more than 5 seconds, blocking off 4 directions of people, you deserve to be barreled through with minimal regard.

5)Don’t be Mr. indestructible street crosser. This is the guy who has no regard for the well planned traffic light system. More often than not, it’s accompanied by a smug layer of self importance and they ALWAYS walk as slow as humanly possible. As if they’re challenging the cars. It’s guys (it’s almost always guys) who , even though the light had changed, walk across the street with no care for the on coming cars. The cars slow down (cause hitting him would be an issue) and honk but, no matter how in the wrong he is, he just maintains his slow stroll across the street, holding up traffic for no other reason that being a total asshole. By all means, he deserves to be run over by all those cars…but he never will be. This may be the only case in which I, personally, side with cars over people. It’s just one of those selfish acts that is as much a product of disrespect for a system created to keep order as it is a sure shot sign of being raised poorly.

6) if you’re gonna talk on your phone while walking, treat the street like a highway. Get out of the passing lane. I don’t know why people seem to become whimsical drifters when they are forced to both walk and talk at the same time, but it happens to all of us. So, you know, just stick to one side of the street so others can pass you without having to do that thing where they’re shadowing you cause you’re cell phone strut is so unpredictable.

7) Watch where the fuck you’re going. It’s so simple yet so difficult. Think of how many altercations are started by people bumping into other people. Maybe I’m just a pussy, but I’m hyper aware of this. I duck and contort to avoid any sort of direct contact with other people on the street. The craziest part is , in general, the biggest culprit of this are tiny women. Little head full of steam ass bitches who think they can just plow through anyone if they don’t get out of her way. This ultimately ends how you think it might with the tiny girl barreling into a grown man and losing the battle to a person who didn’t even know he was a part of it in the first place. Hell, even just grazing these types tends to knock them off balance and it’s 100% their fault.

Pretty ranty, huh? Well, whatever the case, i feel much better. Feel free to add on if I forgot anything. I’m sure i did, as there is no end to lengths people will go to be shitty walkers.

Also, if this all sounds familiar I may or may not have written something like this in the past. I honestly don’t remember. Regardless, my apologies if that’s the case. If anything, it’s just solid proof of how truly annoying people , who don’t know how to walk , are.

27 thoughts on “The art of walking (A HOW TO guide for walking in a city)

  1. this is largely an extension of the decay and general consideration and awareness amongst people for the last 20 years at least. jean-paul sartre – hell is other people.

  2. Dead on! To expand on number 1, the worst is when said offender stops dead in his/her tracks to answer and then respond to text. “oh hey, just thought i’d stop everything to answer your text on a busy street so the guy walking behind me slams in to my butt. ttyl. xxoxox” This will now be called “The Murray Hill anal”

  3. I was just in the city over the weekend and I was thinking about this exact thing. But is there any good way to navigate those sidewalks in the East Village where the pavement is only like 5 feet wide and then you have the trees and little barriers every so often that cut the sidewalk down to like a foot and a half. It’s like you have to choose between shouldering somebody of just standing behind the tree waiting for like 5 minutes for a gap to open. Can’t go into the street; too many parked cars.
    What’s your strategy?

    • When I’m in the east or west village, where the streets get slim, I tend to zip around the sides, even off the sidewalk if necessary. It’s not always an option , but if it’s there, I take it. Otherwise, I just wait for a inch and plow through , without touching the person but making them very aware they were being slow pieces of shit.

  4. As an aggressive foot commuter myself you laid out everything perfectly clear. I would also add that bike/scooter folks need to watch where they are going too. They have those cycle lanes for a reason now. i understand they don’t exist everywhere in NYC and other major cities but thats where paying attention, slowing down and being mindful of your surroundings should really come into play here.

    • Biking on sidewalks is pretty common in Chicago. It’s terrible — and really more unsafe to do it on the sidewalk than in the street.

  5. The one that’s been bothering me the most lately (I assume this happens in New York as much as it does in Chicago) is when everyone is doing a good job walking, going at a reasonable pace, and then the person in front of you stops abruptly in their tracks to look at something in a store window or at a newspaper headline in one of those newspaper dispenser things. I almost knocked some fucker over a few days ago because he was three feet in front of me and I was so focused on getting where I was going/moving so quickly that I ran right into him when he stopped.

  6. I ran in to a lot of these problems in high school. I even tried to convince the student run news station to do a special on hallway etiquette. I can only imagine how frustrating this shit must be in a big city.

  7. I agree with you 100%. I really relate to “duck and contort to avoid any sort of direct contact with other people”.

    I’d say this applies to anywhere that’s crowded. I was at the circus with my four year old son recently and trying to walk up the bleacher like seating to find a spot to sit down. People were pouring into this small place so it was extremely crowded. I was carrying my son since it was easier than holding his hand and letting him walk through the crowd. Halfway up the bleachers, some asshole, in a rush to find a seat (and beat me to one) brushed past me really hard and almost knocked me down. Had I not been able to catch my balance I would have fallen down the cement steps and it would not have ended well. By the time I said “hey, what the fuck is wrong with you” dude was gone. This is the kind of inconsiderate prick that I think deserves to be buried alive in a field of manure.

  8. Way to be man,all stuff that needed to be said. As an avid walker out of preference and necessity (suspended license) I walk between 20-30 miles weekly in and around the suburbs of Boston and am sick of the lack of respect and regard for my fellow pedestrians. You pretty much covered all the bases but lemme add this: To the guy who just learned to use his bicycle to get around, riding on the sidewal intok

  9. Yeah, I had to deal with this all the time in Toronto working for the City, the worst time is around 9am-5pm when all the commuters add another 4 million people to the already crowded city.

  10. Another important rule — don’t congregate in bottleneck areas, such as doorways or right in front of subway turnstiles. The justification should be obvious.

  11. This applies to umbrella etiquette as well. People in New York wile out with that shit, especially tiny little short girls. Everyone is scurrying to get out of the rain, so let’s all work together to save an eyeball, shall we? My rules are: hold it close when passing oncoming wet people, lift it up when you see the edge of your umbrella is going to knock someone out and say sorry when you have a collision, accident or not.

  12. I wonder if this is like a phenomenon akin to road rage, but instead it’s sidewalk rage. “I’ll red rover you public-display-of-affection motherfuckers right now! What!”

  13. I deal with this shit every day living in a small midwestern college town. It annoys me, but I get full on ragey when the same behavior manifests itself in the grocery store, where they can use both their carts and their fat asses to consistently be in the way.

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