Sidewalk Etiquette – Don’t be a concrete asshole

I think a lot of people are unaware that they are in fact, living in a society, and I base this entirely on their inability to walk on the fucking sidewalk. The sidewalk is a simple yet fundamental tenant to our society. A means of transport  bringing those who choose to walk from one point to another, or simply allowing them to meander and take in life as it slowly passes you buy at 12 km/hr (miles be damned). They are the arteries of both small and congested cities and are vital to the vibrancy, success and general happiness of its populace. Except, people don’t know how to actually use them.

You’d think the act of walking on concrete, while mixing in a little common sense and decency, would not take rules or guidance, but people are stupid so here we are. And I’m basing this on my own experiences in Canada, where people are generally too nice (except in Toronto), but still assholes when it comes to walking on the sidewalk. In NY, you might as well buy a battering ram and a shotgun and hope for the best. And London, jesus, if there’s one thing I can say about walking in London it’s that it explains all the bad teeth, which has less to do with a lack of dentistry and more to do with the pent up rage of flying elbows that hit you in the face while people try and claw their way to the fucking underground. Ugh, Brits, the only thing worse than sitting next to one at a swim up bar while on vacation is the thought that you’re also sitting in their urine (I like Brits, just not while on vacation in Latin America or most of Europe, another  Society Camp topic for another day, travelling while British). But back to the point at hand, people don’t know how to walk on sidewalks because they are either stupid, selfish or probably a mixture of the two.

With that, I bring you the sentences and reform punishment for those who choose to be awful people with no regard for their fellow man, while walking on the goddamn sidewalk like some jerk.

Biking on the Sidewalk: If you’re old enough to wipe your own ass, you’re old enough to bike on the goddamn street as bicycle gods intended. Biking on the sidewalk is unsafe and just a general dick move. If you’re too scared for the street, time to buy a bus pass. The worst, are those who think they can not only bike on the sidewalk like some lunatic, but also do so at street speeds. It’s people like this that want me to always carry on hand a packet of sturdy sticks, so I can poke them into their tires and hope for permanent scarring as a reminder about how they shouldn’t bike on the sidewalk. WALK is right in the fucking name.

Sentence: Anyone who no longer sends out invitations for their birthday party who is caught biking on the sidewalk, receives one full day at Society Camp.

Reform punishment: You will be forced to walk on a treadmill the entire day, while John Goodman hurls sharp tools and hurtful insults towards you, as only JG could.

* * *

Taking Over a Sidewalk: Sidewalks are not one-way. People tend to think that the moment they begin to walk down a sidewalk with a chum, they can just take up the whole thing like their grandpa’s Buick taking up both lanes of a two way street (which we all know is only legal in Florida). Well that is stupid, and people who do that are stupid. Just today, while walking to work, some lawyer types were walking in tandem. Talking important issues of the law, no doubt. So important, that one of them just didn’t try and shift. You have to shift, at least feign shift. But no, she didn’t even fucking budge. I had nowhere to go, seeing as parked cars created a wall forcing me to stay on the sidewalk. So, I did what any sane person does, and kept in my lane, she didn’t, so she met my shoulder. I didn’t check her, I just let her know with my body that this was my space, and that really, unless I were to do one of those cool slides onto the hood of a car like Bruce Willis, I had nowhere to go. Also I’m a fucking klutz, so that would have ended in a serious injury, most likely, paralysis. If it were up to me, a city law would be in place demanding that people walk in single file on all sidewalks at all times, maybe even while goose-stepping to scare the tourists. It would also mean less hand holding with your loved ones, which we all know is just a swampy mess in the summer, and who has the time for love in the winter? Don’t even get me started on those people who see fit to walk in groups of three to the sidewalk. Oh fucking hell no. This is never okay, because the three of them will never be able to properly coordinate who will be the one to fall back, and then the other to shift, it will all happen too quickly, and in the end, all three will do a slight shift, which still leaves you shit out of luck for space (or, shift out of luck, as us sidewalk truthers refer to it). This is bravado, and not in a good way. It’s all that is wrong with us as a people. Entitlement personified in overzealous sidewalk bluster.

Sentence: For failing to adhere to single file sidewalk etiquette while walking in 2s, half a day at Society Camp. For those who walk at any point in groups of threes across a sidewalk, one full day.

Reform Punishment: Hold hands with your accomplice as you form the line that will be facing off in a Red Rover game against a team made up of NFL linemen.

* * *

Skipping on the Sidewalk: Sidewalks play a special role in any community, as they are places of business (drug dealers, hot dog vendors) and essential transport, and represent important infrastructure elements for any successful city. Take your no-good skipping to the park. Rural/Suburban sidewalks get a pass, because everyone drives so they are pretty much only used for skipping and for dogs/teens to pee on.

Sentence: Anyone caught skipping on a city sidewalk, regardless of age, will get one hour at Society Camp. The only exception is if one can prove that you are genuinely gleeful.

Reform Punishment: Skip around a track while sporting the largest smile you can muster, accompanied by overheard speakers, in which the voice of Ronald Reagan reads out the names of all the people in your life who have either died or stopped being friends with you. No one should be happy enough to fucking skip.

* * *

Obey Sidewalk Traffic Flow: We’ve already discussed walking two or three to a sidewalk, something that Caesar would have had you put to death for FYI. But something as equally important that we haven’t yet touched on is those who seem to think they are salmon and granted the right to swim against the fucking current. When walking down the sidewalk, stick to the right (or the left depending on your goofy traffic laws). I don’t care if you’re a free spirit that walks barefoot on your way to rummaging a grocery store dumpster for free food. I don’t care if you’re in a cast. I don’t care if you’re blind (okay, they get a pass, I’ll just blame their shitty guide dog). Stick to the fucking right. No excuses. You’re just making people shift about, and we all know that most accidents are caused because of improper lane changes. And what do they actually gain from such a defiant act? Hopefully an “accidental” kick to the dick.

Sentence: If caught walking against the flow of sidewalk traffic, in the wrong lane, half a day of Society Camp.

Reform Punishment: You are dressed as a salmon, and forced to swim upstream in Lake Camp, which is fully stocked with Asian Carp and the Tiger from Life of Pi, who eventually learned to swim.

* * *

Heads-Up Texting: People, I get it, we text. It’s the only way we know how to communicate with both the outside, and inside, worlds. It is our lifeline to friendship. Our insight to gossip. It’s what keeps us ticking, because we are all fucking awful and have forgotten how to find the beauty in life, but also, messenger pigeons are slow and expensive and talking on the phone is garbage, so texting it is. But be mindful. When texting on the street, keep the phone up and your eyes constantly darting forward. People shouldn’t have to duck you because you’re planning your Friday night out with Brody and Duncan (you need better friends by the way). I’m not sure why a mobile application (I’m feeling defiant, so gonna old person it up and use the full name instead of the cool ‘app’ that all you kids and your texting are so fond of) hasn’t been invented, that turns on your camera while you text, and creates a little picture-in-picture  screen that shows you what is ahead. If anyone is tech savvy enough to implement such an idea, be my guest, just make sure to give me about 80% of the revenue and I won’t sue you. Haha, but seriously, I will fucking sue you and everyone you know, because freedom, that’s why.

Sentence: If you are caught texting with your head down and/or improper blind spot checks, half a day at Society Camp. If you walk into someone, a full day. If you walk into a fountain at mall, no time at Society Camp, just eternal mockery thanks to our friend and partner, the internet.

Reform Punishment: You are forced to read Ulysses in its entirety, from your cell phone, while walking on a busy sidewalk, and then must give an oral book report on it. if the book report sucks, and it will, you have to do it all over again with Infinite Jest. Good luck with that one.

* * *

No Standing: Is there anything worse than a group of people standing on a sidewalk gabbing away, as though they are on some fucking patio during Happy Hour? And here you are, trying to struggle your way through like they are some kind of shitty corn maze at a fair. Not to mention, half the time they are smokers, so then I get the joy of having to smell like smoke which just isn’t my bag. While we’re on the subject, for those non-smokers out there who may be wondering if sex with a smoker is as hot as the movies make it seem, it’s more fun in theory. It really just results in lots of deep breathing, but not like sexy deep breathing, and then you have to deal with the awkward convo of asking them to go outside for the post sex smoke, because it’s a filthy habit, and also, the cab’s outside because it will never work between you and your pink lungs  and a smoker, because then you’ll start smoking, your sheets will smell like a dive bar, and your Sunday biking will suffer. Where were we, oh yes, group sidewalk standers. Fucking move.

Sentence: Any group caught meandering on the sidewalk like they’re fucking royalty who don’t pay taxes and can do whatever the hell it is they want, half a day at Society Camp.

Reform Punishment: The group is forced to stand in a circle, surrounded by a mosh pit at a Linkin Park reunion concert (I’m just assuming they’ve broken up for the sake of society). That way, they can enjoy being run into by assholes, while they themselves stand around like a bunch of assholes, while listening to a bunch of assholes on stage play music that makes them uncomfortably clench their, you guessed it, assholes.

* * *

Golf Umbrellas: Unless you’re like that little girl I saw on Maury once who was allergic to water, get rid of the fucking tarp you call a golf umbrella. These are only allowed when you’re on a fucking golf course, and even then, there is no real need to attach a parachute to an umbrella handle. You are literally taking up the entire sidewalk in an attempt to ensure that the shitty Haggar khakis you bought on sale at K-Mart don’t get fucking wet. Guess what, when pants get wet, they dry, perhaps you’re familiar with how clothes get washed? When I become the jovial dictator you’ve all been begging for, I will ensure that all umbrellas are banned. Every citizen will get a quality poncho, colour coded in correlation with their society index (i.e. how much of an asshole they are). Red poncho means you used to own a golf umbrella, and any shenanigans from you and you’ll be walking the rainy streets with nothing but dollar store saran wrap (that shit does not work or even open). The beauty of this plan is I can also control the black market umbrella game.

Sentence: Anyone caught walking a sidewalk with a golf umbrella, even if unopened, one full day at Society Camp.

Reform Punishment: Since you love your stupid golf umbrella so much, have fun getting down from Mount Society Camp (elevation of only 100 feet, I’m not a monster), with nothing but your fucking umbrella and the laws of physics. If you’ve seen Mary Poppins, you should have enough technique not to die. The best part is, there is an easy trail down the back they can walk down, but most people are too stupid to even look.

* * *

In closing, for my own sanity and the general well-being of society, when it comes to sidewalk walking, take a page from Vince Lombardi and act like you’ve been there before. But unlike Vince Lombardi, don’t be an asshole.

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