Hannah Yoon/The New York Times

February 9, 2024

HATER FRIDAY | Slow Walkers

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Before we begin hating, I would like to send some love to the fast walkers of Cornell’s campus. Fast walkers, this article is not for you; I have nothing but the utmost respect for you. I may be biased as a fast walker myself, but I believe you all deserve hearty congratulations for your public service of keeping campus moving and people getting to classes on time. Kudos to the few of you — never change. Of course, I will still decide that we are subconsciously racing and feel the need to beat you wherever you are going. However, know that I respect you. I hope you give our race, despite my inevitable victory, your best effort. To the bikers or drivers or scooter-ers, I have no bones to pick with you either; if you have a boot or crutches or a knee brace or anything of that sort, you are off the hook as well. However, if you are a completely capable but voluntarily slow walker, keep reading, because you and I have a problem. 

I do not know how it is that such a large percentage of our student population reached college without ever being taught proper sidewalk etiquette. However, the number of people who walk around at an absolutely unendurable pace or with a complete and utter disregard for other members of our society is atrocious. But this can be resolved. I am here now to inform you about how to respectfully get around campus. Mostly this article is a warning to not fall under one of the three types of problematic walkers: the scrollers, the groups and the ones I shudder to even think about: the stoppers. If you manage to avoid these dangerous pitfalls, then you will be off my list. But if you do see yourself in one of the descriptions below, you will be getting my evil eye as I pass you through whichever means necessary. You have been warned. 

First, there are the scrollers. Yes, we Gen Z love our phones. And there are undeniably good uses of your phone while walking: listening to music, having a phone call or sending off a quick text — only if you continue walking while doing so! My problem is the “scrollers,” the people who are so glued to their phones that they could walk right off the edge of a gorge and not even notice. Most importantly, this is dangerous; please pay attention to cars and other hazards while navigating campus. Also, the scrollers have, upon close observation, proved to be incapable of simultaneously scrolling quickly and walking quickly. The people walking painfully slowly along the sidewalk almost always have a phone in hand, heads down as they focus all their concentration on their screen instead of their feet. So please, put your headphones on and your phone in your pocket or bag — at least when en route, use some of your attention to keep moving along. 

Second on my list is groups. Everyone enjoys walking around campus with their friends or significant others, but there are ways to do this without acting like the entire world revolves around you and your group. The amount of times I have seen a clump of people blocking the entire sidewalk — not just for the people who might want to go around them but also for people simply trying to walk the other direction on the path — is ridiculous. I know it is not in your best interest, but your group may have to walk in a few rows, with some people in front and some following behind, to allow other people to coexist with you in these shared spaces. Next, if you want to hold hands, romantically or not, great, hold hands, but do so close together, not with your arms outstretched between you like a finish line ribbon crossing the entire sidewalk.

Additionally, as students who have to balance school, extracurriculars and taking care of ourselves, we should be able to handle at least basic multitasking. You should be able to talk while also walking at a somewhat reasonable pace. You do not have to be like me and walk at such a fast pace that your friends have to jog to keep up, but please find a happy medium. If you decide to ignore these social niceties, fine, that is within your rights but be forewarned: I have zero patience. I will be that obnoxious person who walks into the road to get around you. I would quite literally rather be hit by a car or the TCAT than be stuck behind a group moving like a pack of tortoises all the way to class. 

Lastly, we have reached the worst of the worst: the stoppers. Stoppers are the people who will freeze all of a sudden, mid-stride, with literally no warning. They will simply stop, usually causing people who are behind them to almost have a collision. In my book, there is very little more rude than this action. There are only a few very specific instances where it is appropriate to stop on the street — namely, if you have a heart attack or randomly break your foot. It is not appropriate to stop to read a text you just received or to have a chat with a friend in the middle of the sidewalk or to reconsider if you are going in the correct direction. Let us pretend that instead of walking, we are driving around campus. If you were driving and received a text or saw a friend or realized you went the wrong way, you would not simply slam on the brakes and cause an accident. No, you would either wait until your destination to check this oh-so-important message or pull over. I know this is truly revolutionary but pulling over is possible while walking too — just step to the very edge of the sidewalk, or off the sidewalk if you have that option, and reenter the crowd when you are ready. 

In my opinion, I am not asking for much. Sidewalk manners are just as basic — and just as important — as the other etiquette we were taught as children. Just like we learned not to eat with our mouths open, we should have also learned not to block sidewalks or walk so incredibly slowly that by the time you get from North to Central, the clock tower renovations are finished. You are all Cornellians; I know you can figure out a way to do everything you want — scroll on your phone, walk in your group or read that important text message — all while walking at a reasonable pace. Just keep in mind, no matter how fast you start walking, I promise: You will never beat me. Still, best of luck.

HATER FRIDAY is an authorless column that runs on Fridays and centers around critiquing media or culture.