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Sidewalk Rage

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yup, it's the United terminals B/C underground walkway at O'Hare

Another day, another WSJ article. This one, in last Tuesday’s paper, was about sidewalk rage.

Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a “mean face” or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.

For the cool-headed, sidewalk rage may seem incomprehensible. After all, it seems simple enough to just go around the slow individual. Why then are some people, even those who greet other obstacles with equanimity, so infuriated by unhurried fellow pedestrians?

Kind of nuts, huh? I sure didn’t recognize myself in any of this. Until I got to the next paragraph:

How one interprets the situation is key, researchers say. Ragers tend to have a strong sense of how other people should behave. Their code: Slower people keep to the right. Step aside to take a picture. And the left side of an escalator should be, of course, kept free for anyone wanting to walk up.

Yes, well, that’s different. What’s the deal, anyway, with those morons at the airport who get on a moving sidewalk and stop, suitcase at their sides, completely blocking passage? I mean, are you serious? You’re going to stand for 100 yards while it moves at 1/2 mile per hour? Are you trying to imagine life as a snail? Stand on the right, move your damn bag in front of or behind you, and get out of the way! Let the rest of us use the moving sidewalk to walk. The idea is to get there faster, not slower.


The article continues:

“A lot of us have ‘shoulds’ in our head,” says Dr. Deffenbacher. Ragers tend to think people should do things their way, and get angry because the slow walkers are breaking the rules of civility. It’s unclear exactly why some people harbor such beliefs, Dr. Deffenbacher says.

Hey, Deffenbacher, I’m talking about standers, not slow walkers, and they are breaking the rules of civility. You got that right, pal. There’s nothing unclear at all.

I’m glad we got that settled.

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