I wanted this to be a very visual post with smartly edited videos of people walking down the street splashed across the page. I decided shooting video of random people walking down the street minding their own business was beneath me and pretty much creepy, so I didn't do that. Besides, that crap makes the page hard to load and eventually the youtube links will magically stop working and you'll hate my blog (if you don't already).
You can actually read this post and go witness my observations yourself, which makes this much more interactive than I originally imagined. It's also an investment on your end - which means you'll probably end up agreeing with me since you're... well... invested.
Like many of you I walk the streets of DC daily. I automatically hate the fact that most of the city's sidewalks are those stupid concrete tiles that are never firmly affixed to the ground on all four corners. I spend a lot of time making sure I don't end up on my face because the sidewalk doubles as a teeter totter for feet. Because I'm looking down a lot, I end up almost bumping into people often. I don't know that the hell they're looking at - remember, I'm watching for Indiana Jones-like booby traps within the public right-of-way - but if they could maintain a line and follow the general rules of the road, we'd not run into each other. Although when it's a pretty girl I'm thankful for the all of a sudden serendipitous collision. And that's because I'm a guy and guy's are pigs.
Lately I have been spending more time watching people walk instead of watching out for loose sidewalk tiles. The people of DC can't walk in a straight line to save their lives. And in some cases - it's needed to save their lives!
Given the space, DC people will involuntarily zigzag up and down the block. They kind of walk toward one point, catch themselves too close to the curb and then gently swerve back toward the buildings lining the street on the other side. Some people have a more pronounced zigzag changing direction every few feet. It's fascinating to watch. You should do it. But, don't bring a friend because they'll think you're weird.
I do know that there are a tremendous amount of utility access grates on DC sidewalks. Women in certain types of shoes avoid them as well as pessimistic people who think they'll fall through to their death. I'm an optimistic person - I think I'll fall through, live and get a major payday and never have to work again. I guess what I'm saying is that there are some legitimate reasons for changing course on many DC sidewalks.
More interesting than watching individuals is watching a pair of people walking together and how they do one of two things without fail.
Some sets of people tend to stray away from each other then back.... then away again and then back. They do this over and over with some pairs having a more pronounced separation than others. Imagine the final ski scene in "Aspen Extreme" (the best skiing movie ever made) and that's exactly what it's like. It's as if one said to the other at the beginning of the block "I'll open'em, you close'em."
Other pairs have one person who is actually locked in on a straight line while the second person just randomly runs into them over and over as if they have no ability to control their proximity to the other person. It makes you want to punch the guy who can't control his distance to his mate (in the British sense of the word) (that just made this post "international")- it's as annoying to watch as it is to have happen to you.
Because nobody in DC is walking in a straight line there's a lot of problems with people walking the wrong way down your lane of traffic. By this I mean - you're in the right lane and they should be in the left lane, but they're not. It's not a foreign concept (yes it is), so why don't people adhere to it?
Even within metro facilities we follow the rules of the road - slower traffic to the right and faster traffic to the left. It's the DC specific "walk left, stand right" rule borne out of the necessity to have unwritten rules for which tourists are oblivious - giving locals an opportunity to scream at strangers.
Okay, the rule was actually borne out of the rules of the road as followed in America (where everything we do is right and everyone else is wrong).
Again, I encourage you to go out and witness this phenomenon yourself and report back to us what you find. By all means - lose your shit in the comments section below if you disagree with me so we can all certify that I'm 100 percent correct. And if you don't want to lose your shit in the space provided below, just share your stories of sidewalk aggravation. Sharing helps all of us heal.