Walking. Who’d have thought it could be such a tricky business, fraught with potential danger and endless opportunities to annoy your fellow humans? Here’s how to maximise your ability to be an annoying pedestrian.
- Texting/internet while walking. Some of us may have evolved enough to multi-task, but walking and replying to your email requires you to be looking at two different things at the same time — your phone and where you’re going. The two activities are mutually incompatible. You’re also placing the responsibility for not colliding with you onto your fellow pedestrians which is: a) not advisable and b) quite presumptuous. For added annoyance points, mutter ‘fuck off’ if someone does happen to bump into you or suggest you watch where you’re going.
- Stopping at the bottom/top of escalators. Escalators seem to be a sort of mental no-man’s land. Once people get on them, their brain empties of everything except a sense of a comforting slidey up (or down) movement and all too often, reaching the end can be something of a shock. The really annoying pedestrian will stop dead and look blankly about them, causing everyone behind them to pile up like a set of human dominoes. For added annoyance points, tell the person who crashes into you to watch where they’re going.
- The Green Cross Code. We’ve all darted across the road when the red man is lit on a pedestrian crossing. It’s generally not a problem and on some London crossings, you’d fall into a pile of bones and dust before the green man lit up. The exception to this is when there’s a car or bike near enough to cause you damage if you make contact. There’s a couple of fairly simple questions you can ask yourself in your head before you cross on red: a) will that car reach me before I get across even if I run? b) what avoiding action will either of us need to take? If the answer to a) is yes and b) is swerve, roll across the tarmac or jump, then you shouldn’t cross. Generally, motorists and cyclists like to avoid hitting pedestrians as it can be messy and upsetting for all concerned, but don’t assume they will be able to stop in time, especially if you’ve flung yourself into the road at the last possible minute.
- Umbrellas. Really want to piss off your fellow pedestrians? Get a golf umbrella. After all, no-one minds losing an eye as long as you and the three feet around you stay dry. For added annoyance points, ensure you hit everyone else’s umbrellas with yours.
- Stopping in the middle of the path. Look, if you’re not sure where you’re going or you’ve changed your mind about the direction you’re heading in, don’t just stop where you are. This is especially annoying when there’s a large group of you and you block the pavement. Just step to one side, it’s not difficult. Variations on this theme include stopping in the middle of a busy tube platform and stopping in the middle of shop doorways or aisles.
- Meandering/zig-zagging. In your head you may be James Bond escaping from your mortal enemy firing bullets at you by zooming willy-nilly across the pavement, but in the real world you’re actually dawdling in a random fashion and you’re danger to yourself and others. Most of your fellow pedestrians aren’t equipped with a crystal ball so they have no idea where you’re going to walk next. Walking in a relatively straight line isn’t hard as long as you remember to go around immovable objects.
- Holding doors (or not). Men — it’s OK to hold doors open for women. We generally consider it to be good manners rather than an outdated expression of patronising chivalry. Women — it’s OK to hold doors open for men. They generally consider it to be good manners rather than an attempt to emasculate them by demonstrating your ability to open a door. People — it’s OK to hold doors open for other people as they generally consider it to be good manners. And always say thank you. For added annoyance points, let a door slam in a woman’s face, then shout, ‘You wanted equality!’
Other things which have annoyed me: