Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

"Ouiser, you sound almost chipper, what happened today you run over a small child or something?"

There are few lucky souls who have not experienced road-rage at some point, either on the dealing or receiving end. Well, pedestrians can get just as ugly as bad drivers and contribute to the phenomenon of--shall we say--sidewalk rage. Ask any D.C. resident what thing about tourists really boils their blood, and I bet an easy majority of them will tell you its their lack of escalator etiquette. Specifically, the tourist's habit of standing to the left of the metro station escalator and blocking the path of those wishing to be expedient and walk their way down. (EVERYone knows: standers to the right, walkers to the left.Well, apparently not everyone). Crowd traffic is significantly backed up as a result, people miss their trains, and I turn into something different.

I am a ruthless walker when commuting to work. I walk really fast. I will breathe down the necks of standers on the left. If there was a motion to punish left-sided standers in stocks on the National Mall in this 102 degree weather, I would support it. There needs to be some consequences here. I have stepped on the heels of slow moving people and not felt the least bit of remorse. Hey, that's a risk they take by opting for glacier-pace. I have not yet run over a small child, but there were several close calls. Parents: Beware, and please keep your kids in line and out of the way. I hate missing the metro by a few moments and having to wonder "If I had just walked faster, I could have made that train." So I walk as fast as possible. If I still miss the metro, I can be comforted by the knowledge that I gave it my all, and that train just wasn't really possible.

I figured one day I'd be finally put to shame, like in tripping on someone's walker and taking that grandma down with me. But instead I felt embarrassed on my way home, which is when I usually take a much slower pace and just try to walk in a straight line and not bump into things. Some random man opened the doors for me as we were leaving the metro station and let me exit first. Some other guy did that for me the other day, as did the housekeeping dudes at the hospital last night. And it occurred to me that I could have very well shoved past that same gentleman some other day in my commuting haste. Whenever guys hold doors open, I think, "ah, there is such thing as civilization! even in this crazy city, there is hope for humanity!"

Well, maybe there's hope for me.


  1. That would annoy me in Rome to no end. The tourists would be walking with no awareness of anyone around them -- including me, trying to get to class. Once I was so annoyed because someone kept turning around and looking behind them, and I finally had to turn around to see what they could be looking at -- and there was an awesome view of the Coliseum. Oh, that thing I saw every day and ignored after awhile...
    I gave that person a pass.
    But I agree-- people need to be more aware of the others around them that need to get places. And people who don't know escalator etiquette are the WORST.

  2. I'll always remember getting frustrated standing behind some tourists on the up-escalator at Union Station. Some 13 yr old-looking local kid nearby me was nearby, in the same predicament, and he crooned a little song. Something like, "If you don't wanna walk, you gotta stand to the right." I looked up at him and he flashed me a grin of super-crooked teeth. We were perfectly simpatico for that moment.

    Anyway, "Nursing school: how a philo major pays rent" is just too good.

  3. "Nearby me was nearby" . . . oops; you know what I mean.