No toddling zone.

My first serious boyfriend in college was long-legged and lanky, and when he was trying to get someplace fast, I practically had to scamper to keep up with him. Scampering is a decidedly humiliating way to travel, so as a defense, I changed my walking stride. You think you know how to walk until you have to walk with a long-legged person, and then you learn.

The secret is to get your hips into the game. Most casual walkers walk from the knees down, but if you engage your iliac region, you can easily get a few extra inches out of a stride. When I started to ride, I would later learn to recognize this in horses; horsemen use the term “good mover” to describe an animal that covers ground easily without appearing to work too hard at it. A “daisy cutter” is a classic hunter, one whose gaits are easy and long, without much knee action; put him in a field of daisies and his hooves will lop the blossoms off as they brush over the tops. Knee action is wasted motion, and should be saved for fancy carriage horses, where that sort of high stepping is prized.

I would never call myself a daisy cutter — my legs are too short. But I like to get where I’m going without too much shilly-shallying, and why are you walking so slow in the middle of the goddamn sidewalk? Don’t you know anything?

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating story today about researchers studying the roots of anger. You’ll never guess what their laboratory is:

Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.

I don’t want to punch slow walkers, but I will never understand people who don’t follow simple rules of the pedestrian road. I thought everyone knew them; they’re essentially the same as the one for cars: Slow traffic to the right. Don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk. And — very big on college campuses — there is a time and place to hold hands with another adult, but it’s not on a university walkway between classes. You idiot.

I think I should volunteer for this study.

I live in a car-mad city now, but I still like to walk when I can, and most of the time I have sidewalks entirely to myself. I don’t think it’s making me any more patient, and I wonder how I’d do in someplace like New York, which I haven’t visited since the beginning of the smart-phone era. I don’t know how I’d handle the amblers, the slow-walkers, the distracted millions who will not look up from their little screens, not even when someone is coming up behind them, fast. The police at Wayne State have a boilerplate memo they offer to anyone interested in staying safe on an urban campus in a dangerous city, and high on the list? Ignore your phone. Your call will wait. It is the gimpy leg that the urban predator looks for, because it means you’re not paying attention to anything other than some stupid text message.

As I read on in the story, I realized I’m not a classic sidewalk rager. I don’t bump into people if it can be avoided, and for the most part I will go around slower ones without glares or (much) muttering. Having been a stroller- and wheelchair-pusher myself, I understand the special problems posed by small children and elderly parents. Needless to say, I don’t hip-check anyone. But I fully admit to being driven nuts by people who will fan out in a group, usually women, frequently four abreast so they can be just like the “Sex and the City” girls, and not be aware that they have chosen to become a blood clot in the artery of a busy city. I try to go around, but sometimes they’ll stop — so the camera can zoom in on them while they make some witty remark — and I have no recourse but to go through the middle. They act surprised, like I’m invading their space. Who let this interloper into my movie set? Hey, girlie. Learn to walk.

OK, some bloggage:

Speaking of idiots, the Republicans aren’t serious about zeroing out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, are they? This has to be a bargaining-chip sort of deal. They aren’t really that stupid? No one’s that stupid. Oh, wait. So off I go to my elected representatives’ websites, there to register my objection. They’re all Democrats, so I believe it’s probably unnecessary, but you never know.

A milestone we all missed: Yesterday was Coozledad’s 50th birthday. Happy birthday, you delightful one.

This is red-carpet season, and Tom & Lorenzo are on the case, as usual. No red carpet is as tacky as the ones trod by the music industry, and their Grammy wrapup is hilarious. Just go to the main page, find part one and go from there. Never have I seen such awful formalwear, and I went to high school in the ’70s. Ignore the fact you won’t know three-quarters of the “stars,” and concentrate on the prose:

HELLO, GRAMMA FUNK! We don’t know who you are, but we feel like we know every inch of your body like an old lover. The curtain is rising on your vagina and your tits are screaming like two colicky babies.

Me, I’m off to work. Have a swell Tuesday, all.

Posted at 9:32 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |
 

49 responses to “No toddling zone.”

  1. Mark P. said on February 15, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Female journalists – do they all walk fast? Way, way back in the 70s when I was in J school I accompanied a female reporter from the Atlanta Constitution. She complained because I walked too slow. I thought, but didn’t say, “When I’m walking, I’m not in a hurry. If I want to go fast, I run.” But that was then, and this is the now where I can no longer run. So when I want to go somewhere fast, I drive. But when I’m walking I do stay to the right to let people pass. Oh, since we’re on the subject of idiots, what about the groups who walk right down the middle towards you and expect you to get off the sidewalk to let them pass? I usually just stop and let them decide what to do.

  2. Judybusy said on February 15, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Happy Birthday Cooz!

    Ugh! Slow people! Here in Minneapolis, we use skyways, and people have no clue about the slower traffic to the right rule. Also, the artery-cloggers are business men who are ambling along, three to four abreast during lunch hour. Some of the older skyways are pretty narrow, and you have to either call out “excuse me” several times or wait till you get to a wider space.

    I feel the same way about public radio and television! It’s pure political football-how much can they cost? On a tangential note, I’m reading “Winner-take-all-politics”; it’s a nice summation of how the current political game came to be played, resulting in wretched wealth disparities usually seen only in more despotic countries. I suspect I came across the title in these pages, but I highly recommend it.

  3. Kirk said on February 15, 2011 at 10:37 am

    And don’t get me started on the people in the great pantheons of American rudeness — supermarkets.

  4. MichaelG said on February 15, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Sidewalk? Here in the ‘hood where I live everybody just strolls down the middle of the street.

    Those dresses on T & L are awful. I also don’t get the men’s clothes. But then I never heard of half those people before, either. This all says something about me. I’m not sure what.

  5. Eric Zorn said on February 15, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Damn. “Iliac region.” No wonder you always beat me at the crossword puzzle

  6. Dorothy said on February 15, 2011 at 10:50 am

    When my son was a little boy I was walking somewhere and holding his hand. In frustration, I asked if he could go a little bit faster. “But Mommy, I only have these little legs!” I try to keep that in mind when I’m navigating a street or the mall when those shorter than I (I’m 5’9″) are lolly gagging. But I’m definitely an impatient cuss. And Kirk you beat me to the remark about supermarkets. Talk about a blood pressure raiser!!

    Happy 50th Cooz a day late!

    My favorite word that I read at T&L yesterday’s Grammy wrap-up was “crotchtastic.”

  7. brian stouder said on February 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Damn. “Iliac region.”

    Hell, Mr Zorn – you’re still ahead of me; I glided right over that, reading “lilac” instead of iliac region , which sort of worked – once I got to “daisy cutter” horses, and Tom and Lorenzo’s entertaining references to anatomical regions. (“lilac region” sounds like a douched cousin of “crotchtastic”)

    Happy 50, Cooz. I’ll get there myself, when the swallows return to Capistrano

  8. Casey said on February 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I am a fast walker, routinely outpacing my husband who, at 6’1″ is taller than me by seven inches. Our divergent paces make walking together for recreation a challenge. We don’t go on evening or weekend walks very often, we each dislike the other’s pace. This weekend Calgary had a chinook and I managed to convince him to got for a walk at a park we’d not been to yet. Just 50 meters into it, we literally had to negotiate a compromised pace. Even so, I felt myself chomping at the bit. It was for a good cause though, since we both need the exercise. The great equalizer we’ve discovered is snowshoeing. We’re both slow there. Thursday starts the mid winter break here and we are going to the mountains for the duration, bringing snowshoes we’ve rented locally (cheaper than renting at the resort) and are staying at a resort known for good snowshoe trails.

    Thanks for the intro to Tom & Lorenzo, I bookmarked them on my IPad, great entertainment. Better by far than the two page fashion police report in ‘Us’ magazine which I never bought (truthfully!). T&L strike the right balance of wit and shock and desire to see better dressing when celebs are on the red carpet. I also like that they only do the red carpet fashion, not the paparazzi shots (with a moderate exception for non red carpet male fashion).

    (Apologies for typos and errors: IPad doesn’t allow me to scroll back in the comment window to proofread…)

  9. LAMary said on February 15, 2011 at 11:29 am

    One of my favorite gripes. LA has the slowest pedestrians in the country and has since pre-cellphone times. It makes me crazy. People walk like they don’t actually care where they are going. I’ve been stuck in intersections, trying to make a left turn, waiting for someone to meander across the street. All traffic is stopped as the pedestrians chat, walk backwards, look at some handheld device. Christ.
    I work in a hospital. You know on TV the people in hospital hallways are always moving along briskly? Bullshit. The hallway outside my office is about as wide as the street where I live. Last week I found myself stuck behind four employees who were chatting, walking four abreast with space between too small for me to slip through. I know I wasn’t pushing a gurney or running to a code blue but why should it take three minutes to travel 100 feet?
    And yes, walk from the hips. I’m tall and that makes me even faster. It also just feels better. I don’t know how well it works in heels, but in flats you can fly.
    Happy birthday Cooz.

  10. Deborah said on February 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Happy Birthday Coozledad.

    Slow walkers are the bane of my existence. I walk fast, I have long legs and I know where I’m going, get out of my way. I walk everywhere in Chicago, rarely drive as I’ve said here many times. I’ve seen all kinds, the slow, the crazy, the mean, the clueless, you name it. Little Bird hates the way I maneuver myself around pokey people, usually leaving her in the dust behind.

    I heard something yesterday that I thought was interesting, that Americans are “addicted to rage”. I think that’s so true.

  11. alex said on February 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Happy half century, cooz! Almost there myself, and while I can no longer swing with the rhesus monkeys I still go apeshit for Jack. I raise my glass to you.

    When I lived in Chicago, people were generally brisk walkers, but here in the slow lane of civilization they’re definitely dawdlers. The other day in a Meijer’s store I was trying to see/reach around a woman who was stopped in front of the canned diced tomatoes leaning on her cart mesmerized by her Blackberry. Someone else nearby (with a bigger anger management problem than I’ll ever have) sensed my frustration and felt compelled to raise his voice at her about inconveniencing other people. She appeared to be quite startled, but at least got out of my way.

  12. MichaelG said on February 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

    One time in Safeway there was an old lady blocking the whole aisle in front of the dairy case while she memorized the label on a carton of milk. I politely excused myself and asked to get by. She just looked at me, said “Fuck you” and returned to her task. I wish I could have seen my face.

    Happy B’day, Mr. C.

  13. Mark P. said on February 15, 2011 at 11:59 am

    It seems odd that walking is a good way to get around in a city, but a completely impractical way to get around in a small town. But it makes sense if you think about it. It reminds me of a cartoon I saw once (New Yorker?) where two businessmen walk out of an office building. One turns to the other and says, “Should we walk, or do we have time to take a cab?”

  14. John G. Wallace said on February 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I’m 5’11”, and a very fast walker for a fat guy. My wife is 5-foot even, so she can’t keep up. I find myself tired if I match her pace.

    My pet peeve isn’t sidewalk slow walkers; it’s supermarket morons. The kind of people who park their cart across from the item they want, then step over and block the whole aisle. Had one lady do this to me the other day and she spent 3 minutes checking out those revolting precooked heat and serve rice dishes.

    I used to be infuriated by those Nextel walkie-talkie phones. They seem to have gone away, but I will never forget a rather profane fight between a guy walking in front of us, and what I presume was his girlfriend that he cheated on. Somehow her response that she would cut off his nasty (former mayor of fort wayne’s full name) and shove them down his new c_ _ _ ‘s throat were hard to take serious followed by the beep between replies.

  15. Linda said on February 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Here in downtown Toledo the one-way street capital of the world, the rule of thumb is that if it’s within 3/4 mile, you might as well walk rather than deal with recently-changed (and they are constantly changed) one-way streets, and drivers who only come downtown once a year to argue about their property taxes or pay a water bill and don’t know how to drive or where to park.

  16. ROgirl said on February 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    The worst is the people in the supermarket (or TJ Maxx, Target, Kohl’s, just about everywhere these days) on their cellphones. They’re usually pushing a shopping cart and paying more attention to their phone conversation than what’s going on in front of them. If you’re behind them and someone is coming down the aisle in your direction you end up having to wait to get around them until the other person has passed. No doubt these are the same people who do that in their cars.

  17. Jenine said on February 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I enjoy walking quickly down crowded city sidewalks and regard it all as an obstacle course. Rain and umbrellas up the ante.

    I distinctly remember holding my mother’s hand when I was about three or four and being pulled along in her wake. She always walks fast but something must have pissed her off.

  18. mark said on February 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    The worst offenders, by far, are able-bodied men who, immediately upon departing the plane, stop to extend the handle on 12 pound briefcases, so that these tiny pieces of luggage may be wheeled along behind like a child’s pull-toy. As though multiple hours of sitting have rendered them too exhausted to lift their man purse further than the trip from overhead bin to aircraft exit door. Passing these wimps requires calculating the meandering path of their towed carry-on.

    When I fly through Narita, the connecting time is always short and it is one of the few major airports that has between gate security checks. Hauling ass is important to making my connection and essential to doing so with time for a smoke before departing. From observation, I’d say most Japanese haul ass in airports as a matter of custom, or perhaps for sport.

    My last arrival at Narita was eventful. A lucky seat selection from a stand-by pass put me in a prime “poll position”. Pre-door-opening jockeying advanced me a few rows and around a dreaded family traveling with children. I hit the skyway shoulder-to-shoulder with two Japanese men and we passed at least a dozen slow-movers before reaching the airport proper. No more than two dozen ahead of us now, but less than 30 yards to the inevitable “down escalator bottleneck”.

    Americans view escalators as an engineered opportunity to resume minimal caloric expenditure. They come to a complete stop, even when moving downward where gravity favors self-propulsion. A well-earned rest after 200 paces.

    So, the next yards were critical. My Japanese competitors were still side by side with me, my longer legs and thirteen hour nicotine deprivation giving me the edge in stride-length and motivation. They had home court advantage and superior experience. Together, we were gaining on the backside of a tall, broad-shouldered, meandering American in the center of the narrow hallway. I’d overtake to the right, Tojo 1, to the left. Tojo 2, in the middle of our thundering pack, shifted my direction, intending to also squeeze by on the right, and I opened up to a full run, so he couldn’t turn his move into a pass.

    That’s when lumbering American, oblivious to the thundering footsteps behind him, stops, pivots to his right and places his little-bitty carry-on on the ground. In my peripheral vision I see Tojo 2 flash looks of hesitation, panic and then fatal determination. My left foot brushes the carry-on as I pass to the right. Tojo 2 is attempting what has to be considered a “vault” of the offending carry-on, but makes full, hard contact with the now crouching American, sending both to the ground.

    As we advance on, Tojo 1 looks my way and nods slightly. I return the gesture of respect and smile with the knowledge that all competition from the rear will be thwarted by the pile-up.

  19. Bitter Scribe said on February 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Slow walkers are a pet peeve of Scott Adams, who has devoted several Dilbert strips to them. In one, someone frustrated by a gaggle of “Oblivious Slow-Walking Women” tosses a co-worker over the top to distract them while she pulls around. The punchline is one of the OSWW saying to another, “Third one today.”

    Not sure why Adams singled out women here, except he’s never been particularly attuned to feminist sensibilities.

  20. Bitter Scribe said on February 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Mark: Great anecdote. I would have succumbed to the temptation to make a kamikaze joke, but you evidently have more self-control.

  21. nancy said on February 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Yes, Mark, very vivid and entertaining story. Having done the gate-to-gate dash a time or three, I felt like I was there.

  22. Casey said on February 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    @Mark: laugh out loud funny. It’s a race whether the other passengers around know it or not. The way you describe it, airport pedestrian traffic should be an Olympic event.

  23. MichaelG said on February 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Well, mark, I’ll think of you. I’m on the 12:25 to ONT and am leaving for SMF right now.

  24. prospero said on February 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Scamper? Damn, that’s evocative. A wonderful word that made my day. Thought of squirrels. Rats with bushy tails. Slow walkers aren’t worthy of consideration. It’s people tht stop in the middle of sidewalks for conversations, like nobody has anywhere to go. What in the world is wrong with people?

    We just watched 400 blows. It’s ridiculously good. But what’s the deal with the title? I know for sure, somebody that follows Nancy, or the grand Dame herself, knows the answer. No joke, I realize the kid was beaten over the head with conformity, but why 400? It’s maddening.

  25. Jakash said on February 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    This incident isn’t nearly as entertaining as Mark’s, but was unusual, nevertheless. I was walking briskly down the sidewalk on a commercial street and overtook two young guys (I don’t know — ten years old? 12? I can’t tell.) They weren’t going that slow, but being burdened by their backpacks, it was slow enough. I passed them on the left and continued on my way. About 30 seconds later, I noticed out of the corner of my eye one of them coming up even with me on my right. He was pumping his arms to keep up and began matching me stride for stride. I didn’t know what to make of this, but concluded that it was some kind of prank he’d cooked up with his buddy to annoy and/or mimic me. My response was to do nothing. I just kept walking and never even looked at him. This lasted for longer than I would have thought – over a minute, I’d guess, until he was thwarted by a snow mound on his side of the sidewalk and I moved on ahead. He never caught up again after that. A curious occasion, but it was interesting at the time. I imagined him rejoining his friend to share a laugh and the admiration of his buddy for the stunt. Life in the big city. About the only comment I could have made would have been to utilize the immortal lines uttered by Lou Grant – “Kid, you’ve got spunk. I hate spunk.”

  26. prospero said on February 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Crossword puzzle. They are so easy. WTF How does anybody have a hard time? It’s a joke right? Give me a break.

  27. ROgirl said on February 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Faire les 400 coups. Raise hell, run wild, be a troublemaker.

  28. Little Bird said on February 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Lest anyone be deceived by Deborah’s comment, I am not a slow walker. I just don’t like it so much when she suddenly breaks off when we are in the middle of a conversation.
    Michigan Ave. is the worst. Tourists. The Mommy Brigades. The teeny-bopper shoppers. None of them seem to know how to share the sidewalk.
    By the way, the Mommy Brigades are the group of three or more Mommies each of whom has a HUGE stroller and roughly 5 bags hanging off of it. None of them are paying the slightest attention to the child in the stroller. And they all walk next to each other.
    Yeah, I’ll confess to wanting to punch a slow person once in awhile.

  29. Catherine said on February 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Happy 50th to Coozledad!

    My version of Mark’s hell is the security line on the way to the gate. I do not understand why travelers cannot manage their freaking carry-ons! It cannot possibly take 10 minutes to take off your shoes and sweater and put them in a bin.

  30. Julie Robinson said on February 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Happy late birthday to Coozledad, and according to comments over at Cooz’s, also to Bill. Many happy returns, and I hope your weather is as nice where you are as it is in FW. It’s amazing how warm 40 can seem.

    Anyone looking for Mediterranean or Mid-Eastern food around here, you must go to the Maza Grille. We just passed an extremely pleasant lunch hour there inhaling heavenly hummus and fantastic falafel, and yes, I have written radio commercials in a past life. Srsly good food. Go.

  31. Rana said on February 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Reasonably fast walker here, having long legs, the ability to hip stride, and a tall father who also walks fast. It’s not so much the slow walkers who irritate me as the oblivious – how hard is it to “pull” to the side to let other people by? It’s the same mentality afflicting cell-phone drivers, I think.

    mark, I’m with you – airports are the worst. It’s the combination of people in a desperate hurry mixed with clueless newbs who travel maybe once or twice a decade and who consider the whole thing an adventure to be savored sloooooooowly.

    My mother and I – and actually, a number of my female friends, come to think of it – have observed that if there’s a mixed gender group and two men are part of it, they will inevitably make their way to the front and soon leave everyone else in the dust. Once my father and brother were doing this, while my mother and I (neither of us is a slouch in the walking department) trailed behind. Mom and I were thus very amused to witness the two of them suddenly stop dead midstride and begin waving their arms at each other, with comical expressions of alarm on their faces.

    It turned out that my brother had stepped on a packet of ketchup that had been simmering in the sun, and it had sprayed up between them, covering them both with rotten tomato sauce. Hilarious!

  32. alex said on February 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    The United terminal at O’Hare is my fave for its human conveyor belts, although weary travelers do sometimes appear to think these are for resting.

  33. moe99 said on February 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    well written, mark. Would have loved to see the race.

  34. Bruce Fields said on February 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    “It cannot possibly take 10 minutes to take off your shoes and sweater and put them in a bin.”

    … and dig out the laptop and the ziplock of liquids out of my pack. Hm, do I have a belt buckle? Miss any pockets? Crap, almost forgot my watch.

    OK I’m fast, and anyway I manage to get most of that done before I’m even in the line, but I’ve got some sympathy for the folks that fall behind.

  35. Dexter said on February 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I was in NYC back in 1980 for a convention and I was to attend a small after-business party at the apartment home of some newly-made friends. My host said we needed to go to the deli for beer; this was Manhattan and the sidewalks were crowded. My host was known as “Tall Paul”. I was just 30, no physical problems, but trying to keep up with Tall Paul was nearly impossible. I remember taking longer strides to keep up, but I couldn’t, and I had to break stride into a little run. Another guy went with us to help carry beer, and going back from the deli was very hard. I vowed to never try to keep up with these grasshopper mutants ever again. Damn them.
    Watch the HBO documentary on Fran Lebowitz. She HATES tourists in New York because they slow her down. She only drives her 1978 Checker Marathon car for special occasions—she is a daily walker with little patience for people on her turf who are in her walk-space.

    Nowadays I walk with a cane and sometimes I use a walking stick in one hand and a cane in the other. Some days I can walk with no canes at all…those are the good days. To be polite and considerate, I yield, always, to the able-bodies walkers, and I keep to the right. When I am using my cane or my walking stick, 90% of people hold doors for me. It used to embarrass me a little, but now I understand…90% of people-in-general are kind, caring people. That’s all.

    For years I subbed to Bicycling Magazine. One story again focussed on NYC, this time Central Park. Slow cyclists, fat cyclists, old cyclists are called “strollers” and are hated by bicyclists who like to ride fast.
    This phenomenon is documented from time to time in The Chicago Tribune in a blog. The Lakefront Path is a laboratory from which to study human aggression and defiance…always a war between cocky bike riders on their multi-thousand-dollar ,computer-equipped bicycles, and the tourists and mommies and daddies out there with their families. It’s dangerous, but still a lot of fun.
    BTW, “Bike the Drive” in Chicago is on again this year. My brother and his wife and their friends are gonna do it again…
    http://www.bikethedrive.org/

  36. Deborah said on February 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Great story Mark, I was in the Narita airport once so was visualizing the whole scene as I read your account. I’ve been known to say “please, stand to the right, walking on the left” to people blocking my way on those airport people movers.

  37. Angie said on February 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    My impatience has a name? People study it? Amazing. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Spain and suddenly realized pedestrians on the escalators — in the Madrid airport, the shopping malls, the subway — stood to the right and allowed others to pass on the left. At last, I had found my people!

  38. Heather said on February 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    What about people walking toward you who can clearly see you coming and won’t move to make room for both of you, so you’re on a near-collision course? I like to play chicken with those folks. It results in a sore shoulder occasionally but lots of satisfaction. And I never look back.

  39. prospero said on February 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Cooz has got to be about 150. Or he’s wiser than his years. And funnier. Or a major league liar. But very clever, sometimes.

  40. paddyo' said on February 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Sympathy here, too, Bruce @ 34 — not because I’m a lumbering airport dinosaur, ’cause I’m not. But ahh, since leaving the newspaper biz three years ago, I travel at most about an eighth of the time I did as a reporter. So one can get rusty — especially when trying, without regular repetition, the difficult combination of double shoe-drop, back-flip belt-remove and pocket-emptying triple-twist laptop-removal — and still stick the landing. Rusty or not, I at least try.

    It’s those dolts, the dinosaurs, the puddingheads who don’t try, and Who Just Don’t Care Where They Are in the airport/on the sidewalk/on the escalator (or, in many airports, the moving walkway, not the moving STANDway!) that drive me utterly batshit.

    And Mark, all I could think of when you masterfully told your story was of that mid-’70s, pre-murder O.J. Simpson commercial for Hertz-Rent-a-Car, with everybody’s favorite NFL running back (back then, anyway) hurdling rows of boarding-lounge seats as the stereotypical spunky-little-old-lady cheers him on: “Go, OJ! GO!!”

    My companion and I spent a week in old-town Puerto Vallarta last month, where the sidewalks are half-width at best and fraught with all sorts of irregularities — cobblestones, odd half-step stairs after step-and-a-half stairs, etc. But Patricia’s a walking machine, and so I race to keep up, always careful NOT to look UP at interesting/colorful/cool sights while walking or else risk a cobblestone sandwich or face plant. Better to stop, step to the side of foot traffic, admire, and then move on.

    As you might imagine, the locals were responsible side-walkers, but a number of, let’s face it, fat American tourists were not.

    All of this applies, in its own way, to driver etiquette. The absolute worst? Inattentive drivers (usually but not always on cellphone) waiting ahead of me in a five-seconds-per-cycle (if that) green-arrow left-turn lane — and also the ones who won’t get out into the intersection and allow a couple of more behind them a shot at turning before yellow goes red. I am confident that in the lowest depths of Hell, I will at least be standing on the shoulders of THOSE people. Harumph.

  41. prospero said on February 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Heather: George Carlin wondered why there wasn’t a word for that situation. Who knows? Trying to get home? Or to the endzone?

  42. coozledad said on February 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Hey, Thanks all! I was out helping the electrician dig a wiring trench to the shop/guest house today. The first time we hit the water line to the house with the ditch witch. The second time I chopped it in half with the maddock.
    It’s a good thing I never learned a trade. I’d have been broke.
    I’ll read this thread tomorrow after I work all the knots out of my ass.

  43. Deborah said on February 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    prospero Regarding 400 Blows, this is from Wikipedia “The English title is a straight translation of the French but misses its meaning, as the French title refers to the expression “faire les quatre cents coups”, which means “to raise hell”. Also one of my favorite movies of all time.

  44. LAMary said on February 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Let’s not forget people who try to get into the elevator before people get out.

  45. Jolene said on February 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Here’s a story about a cool new business in Detroit. Detroiters, at least those who don’t mind spending a few bucks, can wear a sign of hometown pride on their backsides.

  46. Deborah said on February 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Jolene, interesting but I was hoping they’d show the jeans in a photo. And $150 seems like a lot for jeans, to me anyway. I’ll spend a lot for other clothing but I buy my jeans at Old Navy for about $29, they fit great and they last. I find a style (Diva, the straight leg, skinny kind) and a color (black or very dark blue) I like and I buy a couple three pair and that’s all I need for a long, long time.

  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Fort Wayne *owns* the Daily Show right now . . .

  48. alex said on February 16, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I’m a taxpayer, gol dangit. Where’s my piece of it?

  49. prospero said on February 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve lived through the most amazing airport stories I’ve ever heard of. In 1969, I set out from Detroit to meet a girl I was heqd over heels for that i had met on vacation in the Bahamas. Her name was Shirley Johnson, and herdad owned a HoJos motel in Rapid City. We liked each other a lot when we met in Freeport, but we were sort of attached to others. We spent one superb night together, and met qat dawn to go diving. This was purely innocent. So we corresponded, and I arranged to go see her in the Badlands. t was a strange visit, but damn, she was wonderful. Somehow, I hope she sees this now. I was a dumbass kid. How was I to know she was just about a perfect companion. I screwed this up , and it’s all my fault. Meanwhile, my second carrier, Northwestern, had gone on strike. They left me stranded in MinnSt.Paul. The airport had coin op booths to shower and sleep. I went to see a baseball game where I saw the great harmon Killebrew hit three HRs. It was one awesome layover.