You’ve heard of road rage. But if you’ve spent any time on city sidewalks, you know that pedestrians are not immune to the anger of others. “Sidewalk Rage” is basically an outburst of anger (outward or not) when somebody gets in your way.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal: “Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,”…On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.”
If you’re planning on walking down the street during the final weeks of pregnancy, or ever walking down the street with your baby once he’s born, or, I dunno, aging past the point of optimal physical condition, you will undoubtedly be getting into somebody’s way. I mean, I like to get from Point A to Point B ASAP as much as the next guy. I’ll admit to extreme irritation at strollers and slow walkers and sudden stoppers in my path, even since parenthood has made me empathize with their stop and go plight. But as much as I’d like the sidewalk to be open to my speed-walking escapades, I can’t, upon consideration, argue that these slowpokes are in the wrong.
Walking slowly is a fact of life for the heavily pregnant. And parents of small children are simply not as efficient at moving down the street as those unfettered by strollers and unexpected spit ups and the patter of tiny, wandering feet. A few years after I had kids there was a rash of articles in various New York City papers and mags by venting pedestrians outraged at the influx of strollers on the streets. I mean, I get it. Children are inconvenient. For that matter, so is aging. But are we really meant to expect optimal progress on our passageways? And what, exactly, are our mothers with children supposed to do about leaving their apartments? The anger feels somehow Darwinian: if you can’t keep pace, move to the side. But we’re all at our respective spots on the conveyor belt of life here. The locomotive prime is a temporary and fragile state. The fast walkers may be at maximum efficiency now, but it won’t be long before they’re the hobblers blocking the way of the kid in the stroller, grown up and irritated about the human speedbumps in his path.
photo: Kamal H/flickr