Thursday, March 26, 2009

And I May Stop Walking, Too

My scheme of moving my office downtown and becoming a foot-commuter from my urban(ish) home was supposed to reduce my stress level and result in myriad physical and mental health benefits.

Unfortunately, after 15 months on the new plan, I find it isn't really working out. Walking to work is not especially relaxing. In fact, it's turning me into a bit of a crank. I find myself perpetually and increasingly pissed off about the hazards and annoyances that confront me on the walk. They're all small, almost trivial, but they add up. Here are a few:

- People who walk in front of me smoking (almost everyone on the sidewalks of the Smallish City seems to be smoking), wafting the tarry cloud back into my face.
- Ne'er-do-well 20-somethings flying down the sidewalks on BMX-type bicycles built for 8-year-olds.
- Dog poo (this season is the worst.)
- Noise assaults (firetrucks, idling diesels, screaming people, barking dogs...)
- Sidewalks completely obstructed while boats, or hot tubs, or lawn tractors, or whatever, are moved in or out of the city arena for whatever consumer "show" is on this week.
- Drivers who completely ignore the large, day-glo "STATE LAW - STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS" signs at intersections.
- Drivers in Escalades and Grand Cherokees flying out of parking garages without looking for pedestrians (I've taken to bashing them on the rear fender with my fist or umbrella when they do this.)
- People asking me for money (I mean, now and then, fine... but the same people, every day, both directions, starts to wear off.)
- Making mental lists of pedestrian-related maintenance the city has chosen to ignore (e.g., crosswalks which have completely disappeared for lack of re-painting.)
- People who can't figure out how to use the sidewalk (veer side to side when approaching from the opposite direction... gather in an impassable, smoky clump in front of bars and coffee shops... come to a complete and sudden stop in front of you when something interested happens on their cell phone... etc.)

Ironically, I think park of the problem is that we just don't have enough people on the sidewalks. I lived in Manhattan for a year, and always enjoyed walking the city. There was a great energy to the mass pedestrian river there. The sidewalks were crowded, but people knew how to enter the stream, float along with the flow, and ease themselves into a back eddy if they needed to take a phone call or make a turn. Here, not the same. You might have the sidewalk to yourself for 50 yards ahead-- but you can see that one person coming the other way, and you can just tell that, in defiance of all laws of probability, he will at the last moment steer himself in your direction and almost bump into you.

I kind of miss my long, quiet drive to work, listening to the radio, watching the trees. I'm not moving my office. But I need to find some way to get over my sidewalk-rage.


Anonymous talesofacrazypsychmajor said...

Yea, being a pedestrian anywhere outside of NYC is filled with annoyances.
There's this one busy street I have to cross every day that I hate. No matter what the crossing light says I'm still in danger of being hit by a car.
There are also those vehicles that pull forward too far onto the cross walk. They block my ability to see the "walk/don't walk" sign.
And of course the slow walking people who are in large groups impossible to get around.

3/26/09, 8:46 AM  
Blogger Johanna said...

I want to add:
- people who walk thisclose behind me. I slow down so they pass, they slow down too, I speed up, they speed up
- dogs whose leashes act as tripwires
- people walking two or three abreast, very slowly, with the assumption that those wanting to pass can very well skip out into traffic
- the twat in my neighbourhood who interprets "sidewalk" as "additional parking"

All things considered, though, I still prefer walking to driving...

3/26/09, 1:38 PM  
Blogger brushfiremedia said...

This is why I have my office in my home.

3/26/09, 2:19 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

But if I had my office in your home, then I would have to deal with YOU all day!

3/26/09, 2:24 PM  
Blogger brushfiremedia said...

At least we have beer on tap.

3/26/09, 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one word solution to your problem: ipod

3/29/09, 7:34 PM  

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