Sidewalk trends that simply shouldn’t be

Un-sCWRU Your Lifestyle

Theresa Smetona

While I generally look forward to attending my classes, I always dread the walk required to get to them. Granted, this is sometimes due to the torrential downpours, 100 percent humidity levels, white-outs or other severe weather conditions native to Cleveland. But the root of my hesitation to walk to class has to do with the distressing sidewalk trends that cannot be avoided when traversing the campus. From flagrant violations of universal traffic rules (such as walk to your right, pass to your left) to much more peculiar activities such as LARPing, our campus sidewalks are host to a myriad of appalling behaviour. What follows is an inventory of common sidewalk aggravations on our campus.

1) Horde movement. The human is not a herd animal, and therefore there is no reason that so many students should be moving in packs. The waves of people that flock across the intersection of Euclid and Adelbert every fifty minutes are enormously daunting. Full-on collisions and possible suffocation must be endured when attempting to go against the flow of student traffic. Numerous poor students have been seen to freeze or to frantically scuttle to the side when confronted with the oncoming surge of bodies.

2) Shuffling. I’m not referring to the Cupid Shuffle or a random stream of songs produced by your iPod. The behavior I would call your attention to is defined by Merriam-Webster as “moving or walking in a sliding dragging manner without lifting the feet.” Shuffling seems to be the preferred method of transportation to and from class for a significant percentage of the student population. Besides giving the impression of utter slothfulness, shuffling is performed at an extremely low rate of speed, and thus is often a leading factor in the numerous traffic jams that occur on our sidewalks. Finally, shuffling is curiously loud and extremely unpleasant to listen too, and almost evokes a horror-movie type sensation. When combined with the aforementioned horde movement, shuffling can be truly alarming.

3) Biking through crowds of people. Don’t get me wrong, I support biking – it’s a low impact exercise that tones crucial leg muscles and provides great cardio, what’s not to like? The thing to remember with biking is that it should never be attempted in conjunction with seas, whether of water or people. The time and place for biking is not through Mather Quad at 9:20 a.m. It’s always annoying and often dangerous. Hardly a day passes in which I do not witness a collision either with a bike or caused by an attempt to avoid the biker whizzing by. Stress levels on this campus are high enough; there is no need to exacerbate students’ emotional fragility with the very real fear of being run over. If you need to bike to class please find an alternative route that is not littered with pedestrians.

4) Excessive interest in one’s feet. Perhaps I was born with lackluster tootsies, as I do not find them particularly fascinating or attention-worthy. I certainly do not see a need to ogle them while walking, but apparently many people on this campus do. Extraordinarily underdeveloped neck muscles may also be to blame, but either way, a remarkable number of students never lift their eyes from their feet while making their way to and from class. This campus would seem a lot more human if its inhabitants would actually make eye contact with each other from time to time, but unfortunately everyone is too busy making sure their feet don’t disappear.

5) Lurking. We’ve all experienced this. You’ll be walking along, often in a low traffic area, when you suddenly hear the unmistakable sound of shuffling coming from an unnervingly close distance. Hesitantly, you peer over your shoulder and there, treading on your heel, staring at his or your feet, is the lurker. You pick up your pace. The shuffling also accelerates. Confused, you move to the side. The lurker does as well, content with pretending to be your shadow, refusing to acknowledge the vast amount of open sidewalk available for passing. Lurkers are not satisfied until they’ve driven you off the sidewalk or caused you to break into a frantic sprint. On the road, tailgating another vehicle is illegal. Tailgating humans on sidewalks should be no different.

Theresa Smetona is a senior majoring in Spanish and English. In her free time, she likes to drink coffee and consider the possible benefits of her future unemployment.