Living in London – Sidewalk Survival Edition

Painting credit: Danny Maloney

Believe it or not, walking down the street takes me a great deal of concentration (especially on Saturdays in the city center, or evenings on the way to the tube).

Why?

Well, you share the sidewalk with a bout a jillion people, and they are walking every which way — towards you, away from you, cutting in front of you, blocking entrances, slowing down, speeding up, walking three abreast on the sidewalk.  I am totally, utterly impressed by the folks who stroll leisurely through a crowd, as if the crowd didn’t exist.  Honestly, their obliviousness protects them against “sidewalk rage” and I envy them.

Anyway, it requires a bit of mental attention simply not to bump into anyone, to keep my body from setting a collision course with all of the other bodies around me.  It’s difficult, especially since my tendency is always to shift towards the right of the sidewalk to move out of the way of an on-coming person, and most British have the instinct to shift towards the left.  I’ve had some near-misses, for sure.

Luckily, London is a city of fairly good “queue -ers” and at least in places like underground escalators, nearly everyone, save the few overwhelmed and confused tourists, manage to stand on the right, walk on the left.  (PS — why can’t EVERY escalator user in the world abide by such a simple rule?)

Whenever I am able to cut down an empty side street or a park or walk in my front door, I breath a sigh of relief.  No crowds.

 

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