Living in a city (Albany, NY) means that when I run I’m almost always running on a sidewalk. Oftentimes these sidewalks are full of people who, for some reason or another are, walking. Since I don’t listen to anything but the thoughts in my head when I run, I’ve found that I started classifying the different types of sidewalk walkers I run across.
While some walkers are merely harmless pedestrians trying to get from one place to the next by the slowest means a human can move, other walkers can be downright dangerous. Follow along as I put people into categories of humorous generalizations.
Among the many different types of walkers, the most common of them all is the oblivious walker. The oblivious walker, as the name suggests, are people who have no clue about what is going on around them. They often distract themselves by using headphones, playing or talking on their phone, scratching lottery tickets, or doing any number of other things that keep them from focusing on the task at hand called walking.
The biggest issue with the oblivious walker is that they are extremely unpredictable when they walk. Often mistaken for a drunk, they weave from side to side on the sidewalk, letting their peripheral vision detect when they are about to step off of the sidewalk or run into something. They are oblivious to the fact that they are taking an inefficient mode of transportation and making it even more inefficient.
The High Strung
Whether it’s daytime or nighttime, the high strung walker is easily scared and jumpy. While it is proper etiquette to alert any type of walker of your approaching presence, I have not found that this prevents the mild expletives and nervous laughter of fear that emanates from the mouths of the high strung walker. I half expect a high strung walker to reflexively karate chop me.
Often found in groups, rude walkers never make room for other people on their sidewalk. Maybe it’s the mob mentality, or the feeling that they own the sidewalk, but rude walkers always force other pedestrians to travel around them. Rude walkers don’t care whether you have to stop, run into a tree, or nearly get hit by a car when you try to get around them.
I’ve only experienced the stalker walker once, but I’m sure that plenty of others have experienced them on their daily runs. Stalker walkers are the creeps and weirdos of life that make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable with your existence on the sidewalk. While sometimes harmless, the stalker walker’s inappropriate comments, actions, looks and otherwise stalker like activities leave you feeling dirty inside.
My singular experience with the stalker walker was when I was chased by a drunk person in drag during an early morning run. While I tried to ignore the cat calling, I started to feel a little afraid when I heard them running after me. Thankfully, I can run faster than a drunk person in drag wearing high heels.
The Dog Walker
The dog walker walker is a somewhat counterintuitive walker. I’ve noticed that the walkers with big, mean looking dogs are some of the nicest walkers. They keep their dog close to themselves and are self-aware of where their dog, and the leash restraining that dog, is.
On the contrary, the walkers with small dogs are the worst. In fact, the smaller and yippier the dog, the more difficult the situation. Owners with little dogs tend to let their retractable leashes extend to their fullest distance, creating a clothesline effect. The dogs on the ends of these very long leashes also love to yip and chase after anything that moves, including delicious looking runners.
My rule of thumb is to always run around dog walkers with at least the length of a leash, plus maybe another 10 feet between myself and the dog. Being bitten, tripped or clotheslined does not sound like a great way to end a run.
The Wrong Sider
This is America folks not Europe (or the rest of the world). Things travel on the right side because, non-conformity. Walking on the left side of the sidewalk is no time to assert your conformity with the rest of the world. Embrace the weirdness that is America and walk on the right side like nobody else in the world.