Monday, September 18, 2006

Walking the walk (or, The need for speed)

Matt C spots, shoots, and mounts the stuffed head of a personal bugbear of mine: people who walk slowly.

Like Matt, I walk pretty quickly. Strolling is all well and good when you have decent scenery and fresh air, but both are in short supply in central London. I just want to get somewhere. It would be nice if there were fast and slow lanes on pavements, but it’s even worse going through tube stations, where you can’t cunningly side-step into the gutter and power ahead:

“A short lady drifted in front of me. I could feel the anger rising. Bile began to drip into my bloodstream. I swallowed and slowed.
“I tried to plan my path. She was walking slowly but not so slow as to be dangerous - merely mildly irritating. And that irritated me more. I opted to overtaking on the inside and quickened my pace as I headed towards her left side, ready to lean against the wall as support during my aggressive move. But she swayed towards the tiles that line the circular passageway and I dropped back. Thwarted. Bitch.”

I feel your pain, Matt. When I get stuck behind somebody whose motor skills seem to be part dinosaur, part sloth, part root vegetable, I find that it takes a huge effort of will to stop myself from walking in exaggeratedly slow, high steps, as if to emphasise (to all the people who aren’t looking at me) how frustrated I am and how unreasonably slowly this cretin in front of me is moving. Sorry, ‘moving’.

But it’s ridiculous: if I have to reduce myself to pantomime tiptoe-ing to match someone’s speed, then they really are going too slowly, aren’t they? And the dissonance between my rising blood pressure and my enforced slowness is clearly a health risk: I could easily have a heart attack or brain embolism in such circumstances. I might even be at risk of physically exploding with inexpressible fury – then people would think I was some sort of suicide bomber and, as the final gasps of life slowly passed from my lips, the last thing I’d see would be a crowd of Independent readers looming over me, wanting to understand my grievances.

But I might at least take down the slow bugger in front as well. They’d never get clear of the blast in time.


Gert said...

Ah, but was she deliberately walking slowly?

I generally walk fast for a short woman, but even so, on eof my memorable quotes is "I spend my life running after men with long legs..."

And sometimes I physically can't walk any faster than very slow. I don't look disabled but looks can be deceptive..

That having been said I hate people who walk without a sense of purpose, multi-abreast and ditheringly...

Tom Freeman said...

Hey, I don't mean to be preposterously intolerant (apart from, you know, the preposterously intolerant bits)...

You're dead dead right about the witless milling groups - I can't make myself any narrower, there's only one of me, so why don't they pool their intellects (they must have a collective IQ that adds up to at least the mid-double figures) and realise that some of them need to go in front or behind the others...? Grr.