Pick A Side, America

No, no, not like that. We’re not talking about world-shattering events of moment. We’re talking about a daily annoyance. The subtle war of the sidewalk.

While I was in Australia, I noticed that, while those crazy Aussies drive on the wrong side of the street, they are at least consisitent. They also walk on the left side of the sidewalk. No one has to tell them to keep left. There are no crafty stare downs, no telegraphing of body language. They just keep left.

Americans, on the other hand, have no idea where to walk.

I think the problem has historical roots. In the States of old, we weren’t concerned with sticking to one side; we were concerned with status. The inside of the sidewalk–the bit away from the road–was the prime spot. Gentlemen yielded the inside to ladies. Youngsters yielded to the elderly. Horribly (and not so long ago), blacks yielded to whites. I remember taking the sidewalk etiquette of Gunsmoke to heart as a child. Shame on my parents for not realizing what a bad influence Marshal Dillon was.

As roles changed between genders and races, our collective course of action should have been obvious: keep right. But no. Instead we’ve devolved into a mishmash of walking wherever we end up, and working it out as we go along.

Me, I’ll keep right under almost all circumstances. I read a book about assertiveness when I was young that suggested women give their parcel of sidewalk to men a bit too often (Marshal Dillon would not approve). I was surprised to find this true in practice. I no longer yield in such cases if I’m on the right. You’d be amazed how many people of all types barrel down the sidewalk with a sense of entitlement. Here’s my message to all of you: if you’re not on the right, you’re not entitled. Move the hell over, and make life on this earth just a little more pleasant.

And the Marshal says to stop that goll-derned spittin’.

2 Responses to Pick A Side, America

  1. senn says:

    Oh yeah, the spitting. Gah. When did gobbing out a chunk o’ gunk become acceptable public behaviour? *shudder* Keep your mucus to yourselves, you horrible lowlifes. And walk on the right too, dammit.

  2. Evelyn says:

    Cat, you crack me up!!! I’m totally confused on that one, as I’ve lived in three countries, each having its own practices or lack thereof as to where one walks on a sidewalk and I guess at one point I decided to hang a left no matter what. Works best in countries where they actually drive on the left, but everywhere else, I just keep bumping into people, sometimes happily, sometimes not so. But in the US it doesn’t matter, as you rightly pointed out, since everyone walks where ever they want which ever way pleases them, hence I’m taking my stand, on the left! 🙂 No matter what!!!