Sidewalk and Stairway Etiquette

This will probably not be read because it doesn’t deal with sex or violence (unless I get really really aggravated), and really, you’d think that it wouldn’t need to be said, but some people are rude, some self-centered and some just stupid. And hey, it’s my blog; I can whine if I want to.

I am really getting tired of the me-me-me attitude that permeates not just the roadways, where drivers without passengers feel entitled to use the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes, drive slow in the fast lane with no intention of pulling over, and tailgate everyone who doesn’t want to go 120 km in a 80 km zone. I have complained about this before and how, even in supermarkets, people push and park their buggies the same way that they drive.

It all comes down to a massive lack of consideration, where the only person that matters is that one person and maybe the family members they have with them. Too many people out there think that only they are important or have places to be. Guess what, folks, you don’t own the world, the mall or the highway, so share it with everyone and share nicely. Didn’t your mothers teach you how to share? If not, now is the time to learn.

So sidewalks: remember, as you’re walking along that you don’t have eyes or mirrors in the back of your head. You don’t know who is behind you or what they’re doing. Try not to meander left and right like a demented drunk. Stay to one side of the walk and be aware, if you’re walking down the middle, that someone else may be walking at another pace and would like to pass you. (I mailed a letter yesterday at the street postal box. I turned to move into the flow of the busy sidewalk. I was still not moving and this woman was coming right at me. I had a car beside me and the post box behind me, and people to the right. She almost ran into me. I could only laugh since maybe she thought I was going to levitate.)

If you happen to be walking with several people, then more than two abreast tends to take up the width of most sidewalks. It means that one or more of you will need to walk behind or move over since people use both directions on sidewalks. You’d think it was common sense and courtesy. But many people must believe they own the sidewalk. The more in a pack they are the more likely that they’ll walk at a real slooooooow pace and no one can get by. This goes for people with dogs or strollers as well. You can’t take up the whole sidewalk even in one direction. Be aware, be polite and move over if someone wants past unless you want them to walk on your heels.

And stopping suddenly when you’ve been going at a good pace is a very bad idea, equivalent to braking suddenly on the freeway. Even moreso, people don’t have to worry about giving a car’s length on the sidewalk. If you’ve seen something  or realized you forgot something and have to turn back, slow down gradually, moving to one side of the sidewalk and then turn. That way, anyone behind you will be aware that you’re changing your pace or direction and will be less likely to run into you. This goes for malls too.

Stairwells and escalators work somewhat differently. On an escalator, which goes only in one direction, in North America, it is common to stand on the right and walk on the left. If you’re in a hurry, you walk up the escalator and no one is blocking you. If you’re at a leisure pace, you stay to the right, just like car lanes but people are actually better on escalators than they are on the road. It used to be you would see signs on store escalators explaining this system but I haven’t seen signs for a while now.

For stairs, a person coming down them is more likely to need the hand railing or could possibly trip and fall than if they are going up them. So what does that mean? If you’re walking up the stairs, move away from the railing and let people use it to descend. If you’re old or incapacitated, then yes you might need to pull yourself up the stairs. And if there is a wall that people must walk around, really really try not to hug that corner  in either direction because you’re likely to meet someone nose to nose.

Addendum: I’ve changed my mind about this as I was walking up the middle of the stairs to give room for the people coming down. There were so many and again they were in a cattle like state that I was nearly knocked backwards down the stairs. Now I walk up on the right.

Do I need to even mention how gross and disgusting, uncouth, uncivilized and downright unsexy gobbing and spitting on sidewalks and stairs is? You are not cool and not attractive and not tough. You’re just a pig. Try having some tissue on hand or seeing a doctor if it’s congenital.

Yes, in my perfect world, people would be polite and considerate. They would say sorry if they bumped into you, allow you to pass them on the sidewalk, not hog the whole thing and yes, they would drive politely. The last time I saw multitudes of polite drivers it was in Saskatchewan; not Alberta, not BC, not Washington nor Oregon. Just think, we could have contests to see if people excel in politeness and courtesy. I can dream, can’t I?

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