When Walking, Please Stop Being Such A Dick

Calling out obnoxious, entitled behaviour is the bread and butter of opinion columnists. We’re an obnoxiously entitled lot, see.

Much of this obnoxious behaviour is displayed while commuting or travelling. It is incredible, the amount of vitriol that can be stirred up when attempting to get from Point A to Point B.

We all know about twats who play shitty music on the bus through their phone’s useless speakers, or the special circle of hell reserved for people who were somehow willing to pick up their dog’s actual faeces using a plastic bag, but then couldn’t be bothered to place that bag into a bin.

However, what I’m calling out today is a trend that I’ve noticed a lot recently, but had secretly hoped I’d been imagining. Sadly I realise that it’s occurred enough times to make it a thing. I’ve asked friends and they agree that London is apparently beset by it.

People will not get the fuck out of my way.

To be clear, I’m not talking about people who wander aimlessly down the street, maybe checking their phone or drinking in their surroundings, somehow always managing to meander directly into your path at the pace of a heavily sedated sloth while you’re attempting to dash for the station because you’re already ten minutes late – although they can fuck right off too. I’m talking about people who are walking directly at you in some deliberate game of ‘commuter chicken,’ clearly cognisant of your existence and the fact that the two of you will imminently collide unless one of you alters your course, and yet they do absolutely fucking nothing. These are the people who will not get the fuck out of my way.

In the interests of full disclosure, I adopt a steely-eyed scowl whenever I’m stomping anywhere at breakneck speed (which is the only way I walk – you should try it). We live in a world where the Mail Online is inexplicably mankind’s most popular website, so only women are openly demeaned for having ‘resting bitch face’, but I definitely have it.

[Tambako The Jaguar / Flickr]

[Tambako The Jaguar / Flickr]

In the street, none dare approach me. In slightly more hospitable environments –beer gardens, festivals – I have actually been told by bystanders that I look like I’m about to kill someone as I storm moodily from the bar back to where my friends are sitting. So I’ll acknowledge that my ostensible public persona is not one you’d go out of your way to accommodate – but this leads me to the crux of the matter. People won’t go out of their way for me at all.

Seriously, they just walk at me as if I’m some kind of phantasm who will phase through them if they believe hard enough, like a hopefully less embarrassing version of Patrick Swayze in Ghost.

Has egomania reached a point where people now feel entitled to occupy space that is already being occupied by another human being? This has happened to me enough times that it cannot be a coincidence. They’ll be strolling along, two or three abreast, and make the quickest flash of eye contact as if to say “you’d better get the fuck out of my way right fucking now, because if you think I’m minutely altering my course to accommodate your presence, you are sorely fucking mistaken. You piece of shit.” Then they will go back to ignoring me and just walk directly fucking at me.

This is Britain. We’re supposed to be awkwardly polite. We apologise when someone bumps into us. So what has gone wrong? There’s no tokenistic effort to dodge. They don’t make that Wallace-esque downward-pointing grin to acknowledge our mutual situation of awkwardness. There’s no verbal recognition. Not even an ‘oop’.

[Atilla Kefeli / Flickr]

[Atilla Kefeli / Flickr]

This very morning, I was cycling to work – which you’d think would double the effect for pedestrians – making me both easier to see and more desirable to avoid – in glorious, sight-aiding sunlight. I was at a large intersection with a massive pedestrianised area behind me, every inch of it practically begging for the blissful patter of soles that justifies its existence. And it was at this moment that a runner heading for this pedestrian paradise decided to barrel DIRECTLY FUCKING AT ME. She could have chosen literally any of the three hundred and fifty nine degrees that I wasn’t occupying, but for some unfathomable reason she felt that she had the right to take the only one that currently housed another human being. I, of course, was the one who had to brake and change direction.

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask. “Just get out of their way and go complain about it on the internet.” Well, firstly, I’d point out that I’ve quite obviously done exactly that, so your observation skills are clearly on a par with the relentless space-occupiers I’m complaining about. Secondly, my point is that it should cut both ways – we should all try and be a bit fucking nicer to each other. Seriously, if you have full control over your legs, taking a step in either direction is about the easiest thing you can do. You’re already walking. Just do it in a slightly less arseholeish way. You are not the centre of everyone else’s universe – maybe you could try remembering that once in a while.

[Lindejesus/Flickr]

[Lindejesus/Flickr]

Because we’re at the point where I’m seriously considering adopting their tactic and just shoulder barging the fuck into them next time this happens, which would be cathartic but also unbelievably dickish – thereby proving that dickish behaviour begets more dickish behaviour.

Please stop being such a dick.

By James Barton

Lead Image: Theen Moy / Flickr

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