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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Support the Left, Though I’m Leaning to the Right: With Apologies to Cream*

If you’re coming downtown, bring a sharp stick with you.

The skyways, a second-floor Habitrail-like system linking buildings together and designed to keep Minneapolitans out of the snow and within walking distance of their desks (to make money) and fine retail shops (to spend money), are beginning to fill.

Let the seasonal clogging begin.

And let your notions of how things work fall by the wayside.

I don’t know what it is, this need for the Christmas shoppers to walk down the center of a skyway surely wide enough for everyone, but there you have it. Heavily weighed down by coats, boots, purses, and the odd toddler or two, the urge to run screaming, throwing elbows and coffee, sweeps over me, and I am left trembling in its wake.

I am not a violent person, no matter what you’ve read.

There are rules to the skyway, dagnabit! They are simple, easy-to-follow and rather intuitive, assuming you’ve brought your common sense with you.

But for those who know people who have turned their common sense in for, say, a 48-ounce Slurpee or the like, perhaps you could pass this along: in Minneapolis, like in so many other upstanding cities, we walk on the right. Ergo, if you are walking down a hall and it appears that if you continue on as you are that you will be hit head-on by a large crowd, odds are good that you are on the wrong side of said hall.

Move over!

It boggles the mind, how many people will continue to walk on the wrong side, pushing strollers, talking on phones, seemingly oblivious that people are stepping out of their way to avoid hitting them.

Perhaps they are all from other countries. Perhaps they all drive on the left and not the right. Rules are, after all, made by the people that use them. In Minneapolis, we stand to the right when riding the escalator to allow the chronically late and the terminally ambitious to pass us on the left. We allow the elderly and handicapped access to the seats at the front of the bus. We offer to buy drinks for the poor and writer-ly among us…

But wait! What if not everyone knew these things? What if, say, Monday was our day to hang our rugs out on the balcony and beat the dirt out of them? What if everyone knew it, absolutely everyone knew it, but suddenly a large influx of Aleutians move into our building and in their world Monday was the day to clean a week’s worth of fish out on the balcony? Before you know it, there are rugs covered with fish entrails! Fish covered with cat hair and boot droppings! Chaos ensues, words are exchanged, and dinner is ruined!

Holy Hannah! Run for the shelters!



Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s what I need: deep breaths, tolerance and understanding.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll need a sharp stick.



* One line among many from the song “The Politician” by Cream

37 comments:

Kelley said...

You need to print this out and send it to the biggest newspaper in Minneapolis. People need to get a stankin' clue! Hold on...I'm typing this as I walk really slowly on the left in a mall and someone is...DAGNABBIG, QUIT RUNNING ME OVER!

Simply Suthern said...

Locks are to keep the Honest, Honest.
Rules are to keep the Ruley, Ruley.

Then ya got those with no sense of society.

It's a wonder there are any Slurpees left.

Pearl said...

Kelley, I shall submit to the newspaper. What could it hurt?!

Simply, there seems to have been quite the run on Slurpees lately, doesn't there?

Sarah said...

I'm completely with you Pearl. What about the goobers that stop RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE and stand there talking, making everyone go around them?

I ride the bus, so I avoid road rage. But I'm starting to think that skyway/sidewalk rage has become its substitute.

Vintage Christine said...

I often have that problem whilst roaming the aisles at Walmart but I ascribed it to normal Walmartian behavior. Sad to hear they have taken over your skyways, which sound intriguing to those of us who must weather heat, humidity, torrential rain and deadly cold (well, to those of us in the Deep South, 50 degrees is way cold) exposed.

Kate said...

The DC bloggers I read talk similarly about the backpack/stroller/fanny pack summer tourists. I do believe there is a certain kind of rage that just gets passed around the country at different times of year.

furiousBall said...

flamethrowers fix this, all of this

Lisa said...

Ditto my NYC friends.

I guess it's true what my sister said back in about 1977 as we sat in the car waiting for our mother to come out of the mall. It was around the holidays and the parking lot was pretty crowded.

After watching a woman hold up five cars as she slowly made her way down the center of a lane, my sister said, "Dang, people are oblivious."

Yep.

Big Fat Gini said...

Ugh. It's like when you go to the mall and there are people moving against the flow of traffic and you're all like, "I just need to get into the GAP!"

I'm with furiousBall here. Flamethrowers get my vote.

Gigi said...

Do you have any tolerance and understanding to spare? Because I seem to be all out lately.

Sweet Cheeks said...

What I like most about a Minneapolitan is the brandy and vermouth....

Sorry. I was dropped on my head as a baby.
=]

Pat Tillett said...

"Perhaps they are all from other countries. Perhaps they all drive on the left and not the right."

Perhaps they are mindless A-holes!

Jon in France said...

I've heard of this "rules" business. I seem to recall something like it applying on the London Underground so that the only people who got squashed by the trians were those who wished to be.

In France, such notions, however, are quite alien.

Douglas said...

A little foresight could have prevented all this. A simple, tasteful, metal rail down the center and a couple of large signs at the entry points... KEEP RIGHT... would suffice and still correct the problem. Of course, there would have to be arrows pointing to the aforementioned "right" for the less literate among us. I suspect this will happen the week after your bus rules are posted.

Oilfield Trash said...

Some people just need a good old fashioned beat down.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I thought this same thing recently in NYC and peeps texting as they walked-- and bumped into people. Grrrrr. Maybe we can get a two-4-one deal on big sticks.
xo jj

a Broad said...

I am happy to read that someone else feels this way. My husband chides me for expecting people to follow simple courtesies like walking on the right or left side of the sidewalk, not stopping in the middle to read a map or just gaze about as if they were just dropped out of a space ship.
I can't imagine it happening in a "skyway" .. I cannot imagine Me in a skyway .. something about heights ..
I am liking the big stick idea .. or maybe a water spritzer .. Move along Folks, spritz spritz, Move along !

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Whenever I'm home in Scotland I get all confused because they have the "stand on the right" on escalators rule as well which is abnormal for us seeing as how everything else we do that involves movement is on the left. This leaves people unleashed in corridors and the like unsure of where to be therefore, meandering slowly like zombies.

That rule is there purely to mess with our heads, I'm convinced of it.

It's odd though. After years of driving in the US I am not at all phased to go home for a visit and find the gear stick on the left (or the fact there's a gear stick at all!) yet I'm beyond vexed by the signal light lever being on the right of the wheel. I can't get down with that at all. You clearly are in charge of the Universe, Pearl, please make the nonsense stop.

Linda Medrano said...

It's the same on escalators. Well sort of. You are to stand on the left and walk on the right. But people just can't get that straight either. Sticks are good, but AK47's might even be better.

haphazardlife said...

Seriously, I think I love you. Let's go walking with sharp sticks.

Jazz

Suldog said...

Sharp sticks are good, for sure, but, in my mind, I have a zapper. Whenever anyone is doing something with absolutely no consideration for others, I zap them. They disintegrate into a small pile of ashes, which I then kick, scattering it to the four corners of the universe, just to make sure the atoms are never again put together into another rude and uncaring person.

Then, I step to the left and let them go by.

Buck said...

Well, we don't have Skyways here on The High Plains of New Mexico, but we DO have a Wal-Mart. And don't get me started about the krep that goes down in the aisles there.

We're on the same page.

Eva Gallant said...

Maybe those people are walking in the middle of the skyway because they are afraid of heights and don't want to be close the the windows on the side? I'm just sayin'

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

funny enough...there was a talk on NPR about people walking in the center of the road in Oxford street and how they are actually employing pedestrian police to urge window-shoppers to keep to the right to allow "the chronically late and the terminally ambitious" to sprint through on the left!!

a Broad said...

"the chronically late and the terminally ambitious"
LOL, I love it ... sadly, I do not qualify for either .. but Eva has a point, there is something to be said about those poor folks who find it scary to walk close to windows in very high buildings ... we, er, they might even resort to crawling rather than being right next to the glass. . or so I have heard..

The Retired One said...

Step. Away. From. The. Sugar.
Wow, Pearl..a little cranky are we??? haahaa
If they have a stroller and a bunch of toddlers and a slurpie and are trying to Xmas shop, I give them a salute...I would NEVER be able to do that.
This year...I plan on letting my fingers and credit card do the walking on the keyboard and order via internet to avoid all of these hassles for sure...but if you have to get to work like that, may the Force be with you.

Camille said...

Yup; first time I went to the UK I was bumped into and given the stink eye for the first day or so until it finally dawned on me that by their standards, I was the one walking along on the wrong side. But I do feel your pain Pearly. I'm particularly fond of gaggles of teenage girls who always seem to walk three or four abreast, mow you down, and just keep going. One day I stopped in my tracks, held my ground, and by standing absolutely still, managed to knock a pretty little wing guard right back onto her arse. It was magnificent.

vanilla said...

Let me get this straight.
Intuitive.
Common sense.
Civil decency.
This is all we ask? *hilarity abounds*

Georgina Dollface said...

LOL! Trying to get on and off the elevator in my building this evening was like a vertical Gong Show. How difficult can it be to exit an elevator? Must we empty that whole dang car so that one person in the back can get off? It was ridiculous. And what's with the people who don't know the proper way to face in an elevator? - G

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

This is the problem with mixed-use urban zones... people hurrying to and from work have to cope with people out for a casual stroll or a shopping marathon or general site-seeing. But the alternative is to work in something like an office park or an industrial zone... not that much fun, either! I'd love to see you submit this piece to the Star Tribune. :-)

Laoch of Chicago said...

I always walk to the far right on sidewalks. Nonetheless there is often a group walking four abreast that is coming at me. In the old days I desperately looked for a way to make myself small so they could pass. Now I put my shoulder down and just walk full speed ahead. Amazingly they are always surprised when I knock them backwards.

Tempo said...

Oh you do like your rules young Pearl... I'm thinking you should be in politics so you can inflict your idea of sanitised living on the unsuspecting public.
Over here we walk on the left..typical Americans doing it wrong again!!! (whatever are we going to do with you?)

Symdaddy said...

I have a migraine and couldn't read it (but I will later).

I only called in for some sympathy.

Jeanne said...

Slurpees come in 48-ounce containers? I had thought 32 ounces the maximum.

Research is called for.

Willoughby said...

You would enjoy shopping with my dad. At the supermarket he thinks that if you can't follow the rules, you should be hit with a shopping cart. I have actually seen him ram another shopper in the rear end because they weren't moving fast enough. Not a sharp stick, perhaps, but still quite effective.

Jhon Baker said...

I am a large man, as a large man I find that walking on the right is easier and that people who do not follow these simple etiquette rules are bound to either run into me or have to move quickly to not be run over and poked with my cane. Everybody apologizes to the guy with the cane, especially when he is a large man - except on buses where no one offers a seat in spite of my obvious handicap.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

I feel your pain, and am quite thankful not to be working in the downtown areas on a daily basis. The few times that I have had to be there made me appreciate my country mouse life.
However, there are odd toddlers everywhere these days.