8 Ways To Give Me Road Rage Without Being In A Car

Pairs well with If You Want Blood, by AC/DC

Photo: Beyonce, Lemonade

I’ve honked a horn maybe twice in my life. I’m a very passive driver. I come at automotive transit from a demure place. I think it’s something about the likelihood of severe injury or even death that road rage can lead to that keeps me calmly behind the wheel, always letting people scoot in front of me and obeying every traffic law on the books.

I haven’t driven a car in two years. I live in Brooklyn, and commute to work at least half way via subway, and the other half on foot. I walk a lot. My distance goal for any given day is four miles, I try to hit that as often as possible. I exit my subway 1.5 miles before my destination and walk the rest of the way there, even in snow. The only thing that can thieve my desire to walk is that sideways windy rain shit. When that happens it feels like there’s actually more rain inside my umbrella than out. I have bangs, I can’t deal with it.

Having purposefully injected several miles of walking into my New York day, naturally I’m destined to encounter sidewalk woes every city dweller loves to scowl at. After three years of scowling, I’ve decided to be more productive. Allow this to be a PSA for anyone who ever leaves the house. This is a list of things you’re doing, of bad manners you’re displaying, and that’ll be quite enough.

Walk Slowly. This one’s a given, it’s no great shock. Unless you’re suffering from an impairment that uncontrollably slows your progress down the street, this is not a place to saunter. This is a place that allows the average human being a path to a destination. If the sidewalk is your destination, you must relocate. You must leave now. We have a massive park in the center of our city, might I suggest you do your waddling there? Because currently, you and the four other humans who felt the need to clog the city sidewalk this morning have perfectly placed yourselves in such a Tetris that I literally cannot put one foot in front of the other at a respectable gait on either side or the middle of this piece of public property. MOVE.

Tourists, I get that in whatever town you’ve come from sidewalks often signify a place to take a leisurely stroll or perhaps tricycle your child on a Saturday afternoon. This ain’t that. This sidewalk is a thoroughfare that ferries New York working stiffs to and from their livelihood, and your selfie stick is costing us money. It’s also costing us faith in humanity but that’s for another essay.

Here’s a trick, one I’d like to translate into every language of the world so that I never again have to endure this mess. If you are just visiting New York, I cannot, cannot stress enough that you need to get a grip on your destination and route before leaving your previous venue. Fourteen of you pouring out of a bad chain restaurant to hover about a street corner people are trying to traverse to get out of the goddamn road where the light is about to change is criminal! Whilst sitting down for a meal, whilst packing your fanny pack for the day, please consult your guidebook, your map, or Google for handy information on how to get where you’re going before you’ve started to go there. Have some sense.

Close An Umbrella At The Top Of The Stairs While A Pile Of People Gather Behind You. You HEATHEN. I could extend this effusive sermon to any activity conducted at the very top of the stairs while other people are trying to go down or up behind the offending individual. But umbrella closing is particularly offensive. Why? Three reasons. First, you’re holding up traffic. It’s simply rude to think that you are so much more important than the rest of the public that you somehow enjoy a longer stay in this place than do we, long enough to collapse and stow your umbrella. Second, when you close your umbrella, you’re splashing New York death rain on anyone in the general vicinity of that offensive snap of the latch. My beauty routine is incomplete. Please, do douse me with the unholy water of 7th Avenue such that I might arrive at my destination freshly splotched. Third, you’re setting a poor example. If other people see you doing this, what’s to stop them from thinking this is acceptable, and the overall practice spreading like a pox? Help your fellow man by displaying proper umbrella etiquette, and close your umbrella as you approach the stairs, not upon arrival. Yes, you’re going to get a drop or two of rain on yourself. If that is an outcome too horrid to fathom, do not venture outdoors in rain. We will not miss you.

Fiddle With Your Phone As You Walk Up The Stairs At A Glacial Pace. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. As you ascend the sticky stairs that lead you from the bowels of the city up to street level, you’re bound to need to change the song on Spotify, or answer a text as your cell service returns. Much as you shouldn’t text while driving, I beg you not to text while climbing. You’re slower on your phone, I promise. I don’t care how adept you are at putting one foot in front of and slightly higher than the other. You’re slower on your phone. And it’s holding us up. We need to get to work, we need to get to a meeting, or we simply need to get out of this very smelly subway station. Wherever we’re going, you’re slowing that down, and I hate you. Leave the phone in your pocket or bag until you’re safely outdoors, at which point you’re welcome to dick around with the device all you want.

Photo: Beyonce, Lemonade

Walk Diagonally. Oh good god.

Walk More Than Two People Abreast Like A Sex & The City Closing Shot. Listen. New York is not your runway. It is not your stage. It isn’t anything movies and TV lied to you about to get your money. It’s a city. It’s a place. And people work here. People do things here. Any many of the people working and doing things need to use the sidewalk to get there because the train we needed to take isn’t running properly and cabs cost a lot of money. Walking down the street with your friends is not an activity. It is not fun, it is functional. And four people across doesn’t even make sense. The girl on the far left can’t even hear what the girl on the far right has to say. This is simply illogical. Two by two! What’s wrong with two by two?! Allow commuters the option of escaping your fantasy by passing you on either the left or the right. Do not hog the entire sidewalk as if it was placed there for you by the gods. It’s not yours, it’s ours. I hope those expensive heels you bought on eBay get caught in grating, I truly do.

Stop Walking Suddenly In The Middle Of The Sidewalk For Any Reason At All. In this situation, I think it’s best if we all abide by freeway rules. I get that the little blue dot on your map app isn’t moving in the direction it should be, I’ve been there. Rather than abruptly stopping, thereby causing me to slam into the back of you like Harry Potter in the Knight Bus, simply pull over to the side, get your bearings, and rejoin the flow of traffic walking the other direction.

Your sudden stops are a hazard. We don’t know why you’re stopping. Are you lost? Are you hurt? Do you see a crisis of some kind in the distance? You’re not being normal right now and you’re confusing the herd! Stop it. Stop it right now.

Walking While Smoking. Who even are you? Let’s ignore for a moment the reality of me having to breathe in the second hand smoke you expel if I am the unfortunate soul who has to walk behind you. Let’s pretend like even that isn’t happening. What really sticks a finger in my frosting is that you’re holding a little stick of fire off to the side of you and sashaying with it down the street completely unaware of the fact that you could burn someone who was just trying to go grab an iced coffee! You animal!

Behave. Behave yourself. If you so desperately need to smoke, please do so while standing still. I’m not even asking this for the obvious reason, you know…that I want my lungs unscathed, but instead because I don’t feel like getting a second degree burn today because of your bad habits and ill manners. I’ve done nothing to deserve this.

Walk In The Middle Of A Narrow Sidewalk While Veering Slightly To Whichever Side I’m Trying To Pass You On So That I Have To Walk In The Goddamn Street To Get Around You. Die.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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