The Indy 500 Without The Cars

If there is one thing they don’t teach you Driver’s Ed or one on one driving instruction is that walking the streets of New York City might in fact prepare for being on the road or a major highway in your own vehicle.  The reason this is true is simpler than you might think.


Pedestrians can be jerks.


Case in point.  Last week, I kid you not, some woman with an ominous glint in her eye followed me for 13 blocks straight, practically stepping on my heels before she finally veered left and walked down 49th street and 5th avenue toward Broadway.  I’m pretty sure she did this because I was one of the few pedestrians who was actually paying attention, so by default that made me the fastest bi ped within a two block radius.  It’s almost like a Nascar race at this point.  Someone decides to ride your ass bumper for bumper while hugging the curves of the race track and using your pace to zoom ahead of others.  Then when they’ve gotten what they’ve wanted, they either veer ahead of you, turn away from you, or crash into the wall.


I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I wish it was the third one for some of these disasters on two feet.


Much like driving on the road, in NYC, you’ve got to be prepared for the fact that other pedestrians are in fact the biggest street hazards out there.  Walk down Time’s Square sometime and find out how true this is.  Often, other people aren’t watching where they are walking, they’re in a big hurry to hit the sales at their local stores and boutiques, or they’re simply trying to beat the red light.  You practically have to be a linebacker or a martial artist to get past these jerks without getting jostled, elbowed in the ribs, or yelled at by Kim Kardashian wannabes who think they’re going to turn back into pumpkins if they don’t make that sale at Bloomingdales.  And how many pedestrians have I seen zoom past me just to get stopped by a red light at a busy intersection.  I actually saw one woman with a red purse throw her hands up in frustration at the stop light! This was before she almost ran into the middle of oncoming traffic, got honked at, and decided to retreat back to the safety of the crosswalk while rolling her eyes.


Of course, she had to step on some poor man’s foot in the process, but that’s another matter entirely.  She was like that annoying asshole driver that speeds up, realizes they aren’t going to make it across the intersection before the light changes from green to red and decides to slow down before backing up into the oncoming traffic behind them.   Those assholes deserve to get rear ended in my opinion.



Never mind that as a law abiding pedestrian, I still have to be on the lookout for crazies, for panhandlers, for little kids who don’t even reach my knees and somehow wander away from their parents, and for the ever present “human statues.”  Now that the weather has turned,  I’ve got to veer around construction zones in front of building entrances.  I’ve got to avoid assholes who keep trying to hand me their fucking fliers like I can’t see the restaurants or the strip clubs they work for right behind them.  I’ll encounter sleezy pawn shop owners who think that talking to me in Spanish will make me more likely to listen to them.  And yes, on occasion, I’ve got to be careful for cracks in the sidewalk that make others stumble in front of me, or vice versa.


And then there’s the ever growing problem of pedestrians who can’t be bothered to look up as they’re texting on their damned smart phones.


For obvious reasons, texting and driving is banned on the road.



It should be banned for pedestrians too, and not just because there’s a growing trend for the robbery of smart phones in NYC.  Road rage is bad enough.  But sometimes I just feel like pedestrian rage isn’t too far in the future for New Yorkers, myself included.   I feel like decking the business suit wearing monkeys who cut me off ON FOOT and almost trip me because they’re too busy talking on their damned smart phones to bother paying attention.


If you’re not a cop, a movie mogul or a counter terrorist agent, shut the fuck up and get off your damned phone when you walk down the street.  It gets old fast, especially since the majority of the conversations I overhear are so stupid that they don’t deserve to be the reason I almost got kicked in the shins, stepped on, tripped up, or simply slowed down if I was in a hurry.  You’re not that damned important.  And if you think we all want to hear you argue with someone on the phone, you’re oblivious, and you better pray that nobody films your soap opera tirade as your stomp up and down in the middle of the street getting in people’s way for no good reason.


I’m not innocent of course.  It would be arrogant presumption for me to blog about this without demonstrating that I too am not the perfect pedestrian.  Sometimes the traffic lights don’t work fast enough for my taste and I look for opportunities to cross the street before anything serious happens. I’m not crossing on the green in that instance, but I am still trying to watch for drivers.   Sometimes, traffic gets snarled before the drivers hit the middle of the intersection.  Is it my fault that some dumbfuck  decided to double park illegally in order to “quick run an errand?”  I’ve got better things to do than to wait that out, especially when Danica Patrick in high heels is standing behind me snorting her impatience.


And then there’s the women.


I’ve had to learn to walk fast and use my peripheral vision when I’m people watching in general, and there usually is a time and place for slowing down and admiring the view.  But I’m not opposed to enjoying what the spring weather has produced in terms of current women’s fashion.  I’ve had to be very careful in recent weeks not to bump into others as my head gets turned by a gorgeous woman in sun dress or short shorts.  I manage, for the most part, not to embarrass myself these days, but last summer was especially challenging for me in that regard ;).  That’s a lot like what happens to drivers when they see flashy cars cruising down the road, or the pretty drivers in those cars.  No matter what, you’re still responsible for you and for whoever is with you, and you just have to remain vigilant.


The other day, I saw a field trip full of toddlers two blocks from my home.  There were at least two chaperones and a teacher with a group of six cute kids.  But what was odd about that to me was that the kids were all sort of attached to each other and to the adults with a long strip of canvas.  Attached to the long strip were these soft loops that went around the kids’ bodies.  It was like watching two plain clothes prison guards marching the Tickle Me Elmo chain gang down the road.  Odd.  But when I thought about it, sort of reasonable considering how hazardous walking in Manhattan can really be.


I’ve hydroplaned on foot before.  Swear to God.


Dad and I were walking to breakfast once and it was a rainy morning.  The ground was wet and we were both walking fast because we wanted our coffee and breakfast omelettes.  I kid you not, my left foot skidded above a puddle and I pivoted quite by accident. As I made my way to the ground, I stuck my hand out to keep from falling on my ass and embarrassing myself in front of a bunch of other pedestrians.  I caught myself (thank goodness) and sprang up just as quickly as I plummeted to the ground.  Somehow, I kept a straight face.  I wanted to pull a Pee Wee Herman line out of my ass and say “I meant to do that.”  But nobody would have believed it anyway.


I think Dennis Leary has made jokes about traveling along New York City streets before.  Most of them rang true for me.



For right now, I’ll just kick my feet up and write this little blog entry from the comfort of my air conditioned living space.  Nobody is going to roll their eyes, step on my feet, give me the finger or talk on their damned phones in my general vicinity as I do it.  That puts a smile on my face. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: