Where I don't care what others think

Noisy Walking

April 1st, 2009 Posted in Personal, Stupid People

I drag my feet sometimes when I’m walking.  Not because I have poor fitting shoes or because I have a strange  stride.  Rather I drag my feet out of courtesy to others.

I walk fairly fast and pass a fairly large number of people each when I’m going places.  In crowded areas, like outside a school building or in a dining hall people are getting passed and changing directions left and right, and I really don’t need to anything special to let them know I’m approaching their flank.

Walking on Sherry Road down from BARH is a different story.  There usually only 2-3 other people walking on the same street… not a very densely populated route at all.  If I’m coming up one someone, maybe 20 feet away, I will drag a foot once or twice when taking a step.  Just enough to make a noticeable sound, but not enough to sound as if I just fell over like a moron.  The closer I get to passing someone, the frequency to which I drag my feet increases.  Right before passing someone I probably drag both feet at least once; so if they haven’t noticed I’m right behind them at this point they really should turn their ipod volume down.

An attentive person, aware that I am gaining on them, allows me to pass with little hassle.  Sometimes people slow down when I get closer to help me pass quicker, I don’t really care.  Others might glance over their shoulder to check if I’m carrying a knife or gun or something.  If the person I’m going to pass is really with-it, they will choose a side of the sidewalk to stay on, such that I don’t have to pass them on the grass or bordering lawn.

The problem really occurs when I don’t drag my feet.  For whatever reason I just don’t feel like giving my shoes the extra mileage, or maybe I’m in an extra hurry or something.  Lots of people freak out if you pass them, especially if you approach them rather silently.  I can count numerous expressions people have given me indicating some sense of shock and surprise.

Sometimes I want to wear a sign indicating that I am not here to assault, rape, or otherwise threaten anyone and I would really appreciate it if you didn’t look like you are considering stabbing me.  I try not to look super creepy most of the time too!

Here are some cases I see once or twice a week:

Passing Target: Girl

Course of Action: Drag my feet early and often.  Girl will turn around an average of 3 times to scope me out.  If the girl is on a phone or clearly distracted (potentially by another girl) I may cough moderately loudly.  Sometimes females respond by departing the sidewalk for the other side of the road.. problem solved.  Otherwise, upon getting within a reasonable distance girls tend to slow down to a really really slow speed.  Maybe they are saving their energy encase they need to sprint away from me… but I doubt it.  Sometimes girls stop walking and pretend to get a phone call.  I can usually tell when a phone call is real because the phone rings.  In either case, I keep walking as quickly as possible and avoid making eye contact.  Only looking to see if they are about to stab me in the side or attack me with pepper spray.

Passing Target: Football/Hockey/Player of sports that require people of the ‘large’ body build

Course of Action:  Ok, my goal here is to avoid triggering a potential knee-jerk reaction of being punched in the face.  I am less than confident with the notion of startling a {insert position here} and catching them off guard, so I will do my best to avoid that.  Apply similar strategies like when passing a girl.  I am less likely to cough here, as I don’t like leaving an impression that I am some sickly nerd and therefore increase my personal unpleasantness level.  Passing a larger target can be more delicate.  If I step off the sidewalk, I may be implying that they are wide/fat.  Staying on the sidewalk risks an awkward side brush.

Passing: Someone walking in the middle of a small sidewalk

Course of Action: Get behind them and start dragging my feet, hoping to signal to them that someone is right behind them and they should consider picking a side.  This approach rarely works.  Instead I have to pick up speed and traverse the terrain next to the sidewalk, which slows me down significantly.  Doing this triggers the person to switch to the far side of the sidewalk (furthest from where I crossed)… which is of no use to me since I already passed them!  Way to be aware of your surroundings.

Passing: Small/Tall/Scrawny Male much like myself

Course of Action:  It really depends on my mood.  On a good day, I’ll try inform them of my presence gently with a drag or two.  On a bad day I will blow right by them and they might jump or emit some “eek” sound effect (commonly a sharp inhale) when I pass them while thinking to myself why is this person walking so slow.  Clearly they aren’t enjoying a scenic stroll down the same road they’ve walked down for the last N days.  Picking up the pace is a valid exercise, which is useful to counteract the effects of sitting in front of a computer screen for many hours at a time.

Usually these strategies have to be applied to a larger degree at night, when people are more fearful of walking on a road who’s street lights turn on and off like blinking christmas lights.  Sometimes I’m on the phone and don’t have to apply these techniques, or sometimes I pretend to be on the phone just because.

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