[This post has been bubbling up inside me for a little while now so I apologise for its negative tone in advance]
While I love so many things about New York, there are a few things, as with any city, that I could take or leave. If there is one thing about New York that I would leave over anything else, it is the sidewalk etiquette, or lack there of. I find walking around the busy streets incredibly frustrating.
I admit it, I am terribly impatient. Slowness is not something I tolerate well at the best of times. However, what I am talking about is some peoples complete lack of awareness of their surroundings and those around them. This leads these people to commit a multitude of what I like to call sidewalk sins. Things that to me should be common sense but clearly are not to everybody. I am not giving up though, I believe that if we all work together we can make the sidewalks a better place for us all.
Here are my 10 Sidewalk Commandments (in no particular order).
1. Thou Shall Stick to the Right
Image Credit: Improv Everywhere
As with traffic on two-way streets, stick to the right. When you are on a busy footpath make it easier for yourself and everyone else and stick to the right, unless overtaking. Some days I wish the above image was a reality - I love it!
2. Thou Shall be Mindful When Walking Slowly
Why is it that the slow walkers are some of the hardest to pass on the sidewalk? Am I missing something? It seems to me that there is something about walking slowly that makes you command the whole path. If you are slow, walk on the right of the path, not the middle. It's not that hard.
3. Thou Shall Give Others Their Personal Space
While I understand that when the streets are as busy as the image above it is hard to be mindful of personal space, I will not and do not excuse those people who invade my personal space unnecessarily. I have often commented to Michael that I have never before had my personal space violated so often as since we moved to New York. I get it, it's a busy city, people are used to standing on a crowded subway car or waiting at a busy bar. But c'mon people, it's not always that crowded. Take a step back, give me some room, and please keep your hands to yourself, I will slap you!
4. Thou Shall Not Stop Dead
Nothing irritates me more than people who just stop dead in front of me on a busy sidewalk. I would rather not rear-end you, so step to the side before pausing. I am sure you don't want to be trampled either, so next time, think before you stop.
5. Thou Shall Not Cut In
This goes along with sin number four in terms of my irritation factor. When exiting a store/apartment building/restaurant/whatever, please check the flow of traffic before you step out. I am a fast walker, it is so frustrating when someone steps out straight in front of me rather than wait for me to pass. This irritation is made even worse when these said people continue on to commit sin number two.
6. Thou Shall be Mindful When Walking in a Group
Image Credit: Daily Stab
Yes Charlotte, Carrie, Miranda and Samantha I am talking to you. If in a group on a busy footpath, break your group to let others pass you. Don't expect others to step out on to the street to get around you. And no, people can't just vanish into thin air, you need to step around them.
7. Thou Shall Not Get in Front
There is a terrible intersection culture in New York in general (watch this if you want to see what I mean). But in terms of sidewalk sins, I can't stand it when I am waiting at an intersection and someone comes and stands right in front of me, as if I am going to be walking slowly and they better get ahead now to save getting stuck behind (refer to sin number two). Really? I don't think anyone who has stepped in front of me has ever walked quicker than I do. Unless you are an Olympic speed walker, just stand behind.
8. Thou Shall Know That a Pram Does Not Excuse Rudeness
Image Credit: Mail Online
This sin is not a daily occurrence, most people with prams are perfectly lovely. However, it does happen often enough to make my 10 Commandments. If you have a pram (whether parent or caregiver), this does not give you the right to bully others on the side-walk. The rules of etiquette still apply to you, keep to the right, don't stop dead and please don't ram other's ankles to get their attention (yes I have both seen this happen and had it done to me).
9. Thou Shall Not Blow Smoke In Other People's Faces
This one shouldn't be two hard to understand - to me it would be common courtesy. Yet, it happens Every. Single. Day. When smoking while walking along the footpath, please don't blow your second hand smoke straight back in my face. It is disgusting and will illicit a very angry response from me. I will speed up to get passed you sending a deadly look your way as I get in front.
10. Thou Shall Realise the Average Person Can't Read Your Mind
When on the footpath, some people seem to think that everyone around them can read their mind. I strongly dislike it when someone sighs at the back of my head or steps on the heel of my shoe when they want to pass me on a busy footpath. I don't read minds so next time a simple "excuse me please" will work wonders - go figure!
So you now know all the 10 Sidewalk Commandments, please go forth and share them with your fellow man and woman, and one day our dreams of sidewalk peace may just become a reality!