A few years ago I moved to a new town, where you can walk to school, friends, grocery store, restaurants and more. In addition to all the residents walking, we also get a large number of tourists here, from both the United States and abroad. They also walk around.
When I walk with other people, I always make sure we “single file up” when passing people. I am almost never given this same courtesy by those walking in groups. They stay two to three across, leaving no room on the sidewalk. At first I would step into the street, but I quickly grew tired of that. So I would stay on the sidewalk and angle my shoulders so that there was at least minimal contact made. But even that wasn’t enough, as not only would the majority of people not angle their shoulders, but they wouldn’t move bags or purses so I was being hit by those too!
To me, proper etiquette is that both people try to avoid touching the other person, or forcing someone off the sidewalk (with obvious exceptions given for people in wheelchairs, walkers, and when you are trying to pass someone). And that no one has “right of way”. But am I wrong? Is there a right of way? Or does walking mean playing one never ending game of chicken? 0221-17
I encounter this more frequently in grocery store aisles where one or more people have stopped their carts to either peruse the shelves or to chat with a friend and they are completely blocking the aisle. I typically just stand there patiently, sometimes clear my throat, or say “Excuse me”.
And yes, I do think walking on crowded sidewalks is somewhat of a game of chicken. When approaching a cluster of people who are so engaged in talking among themselves or gawking that they appear to be oblivious to others, I do look straight ahead and right into the face of whomever happens to look at me first. People will look up to see where they are walking and by me making eye contact first, I’m sending the undeniable non-verbal message that I am paying attention to where I am walking with the implied subtext that they should be, too. When you make eye contact, you can also command the “conversation” by being the first to say, “Excuse me”. On Ehell, it’s all about being in control of the situation and therefore waiting and hoping someone catches your mental vibes isn’t being in control.