October 12, 2011

Walk the Walk While I Talk the Walk

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In all my life I never thought I would be writing a social commentary about this: walking. I have been  walking for more than 20 years. I am pretty sure I have it down. I thought the same was true for everyone else. Still, I realize that walking can be awkward at times — the uncomfortable moments when your hand brushes a stranger’s thigh, or those instances when I end up in the really unfortunate position of being just a few steps behind a girl at night with no one else around. Do I try to pass her by walking faster, or will that send her running for a blue light? I feel too much like a stalker staying where I am. However, this column is about about a different kind of walking. This column is for all you people out there who just haven’t learned how to walk and annoy the rest of us to no end. Through my keen powers of observation, and because I am a pro at people-watching, I have determined that there are six types of obnoxiously annoying walkers. First there are the really, really, crippled-old-man-torturous-tortoise-slow-sloths. Don’t you people have anything to do?  Why do you have enough free time to take half an hour to walk from Mann to Ives?  I wish I had that much time. I am following Dr. Maas’s sleep schedule, which is supposed to make you more efficient, and I still don’t have that kind of free time. Maybe I’m just busy, but I feel like I’m always booking it places. I have to pass these people breathing heavily and sweating.What’s worse for me is that I spend significant time on North for work, and that is where these slow walkers seem to congregate. Perhaps it’s because you are all freshmen and haven’t joined enough activities yet, or maybe you are too weighed down from the fifteen pounds of RPCC mongo you’ve  gained in the last month. Either way, you just need to walk faster — it is driving me nuts.Second, there are the people who walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Not to stereotype, but they tend to be foreign, so this isn’t entirely their fault. People tend to walk on the same side of the sidewalk as the side of the road they drive on (another thing I have had time to notice). I spent a semester in New Zealand, where they drive on the left side of the road. I had to really concentrate not to get in people’s way or get hit by a bus when crossing the street. I finally got it down after two months because I made an effort.All it takes is a little bit of effort, people. Remember where you are living. Here is a little hint: If most of the people you pass are in your way, it’s probably because you are walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk. When in Rome, walk like a Roman; it really isn’t that complex of an idea.One of my personal favorites is the group of people who think walking is a massive game of chicken. Trust me, it’s not. I don’t enjoy the bruised shoulders I get when you walk right at me and refuse to move. I am tired of bumping into you people. When I am walking to class, I don’t need to worry about some guy (Yes, these individuals are almost exclusively guys) who thinks he looks cool in his faux-Ray Bans and lax pinny, or needs to compensate for something by being a “tough guy.” I have enough to worry about with the other idiot walkers out there.Next are the multi-taskers, the pedtextrians: the ones who have their heads buried in their phones and veer at all sorts of crazy angles while walking. I understand you need to text your BFF Jill to tell her to get to the Terrace early so you don’t have to sit alone at the table for a half hour while she orders a salad, but can’t you do that while standing still? Concentrate on walking while you are walking. Multi-tasking is overrated. When I see you trip and fall in a bush I’m going to laugh at you, I promise. Not because I am mean, but because you deserve it for trying to do too many things at once.Fifth, there are the arm swingers. Walking works out your legs, you don’t need to exercise your arms too. Watch out for these people on stairs (and it’s not like we lack stairs here). If you are behind them, their hands are at the perfect height to connect with your face, and poke your eyes out as they windmill their way up the stairs. Dear young gentleman in Statler, you almost made me lose a tooth.Finally, there are the people who walk around in packs three or four across on the sidewalk. I’m all for having friends. But when you walk towards me taking up the whole sidewalk and don’t move at all, I start to get really pissed off. Why should I have to walk in the mud next to the sidewalk?  Wait, I just remembered: I shouldn’t. You should just try being more courteous. Your conversation does not need to take place in a line — a conversation square works just as well. Yeah, you may not get the dramatic Chorus Line or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants effect, but you won’t have the next 27 people you pass wanting to break your ankles.Cornell, it is not that difficult. Walking well takes just a minuscule amount of self-awareness and mutual respect for everyone. Great, you got in to Cornell. Now start walking like an adult.

Will Spencer is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He may be reached at wspencer@cornellsun.com. Tripping Up Stairs appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Will Spencer