In the past the Daily Sam has focused on important etiquette issues such as fighting for your armrest when you are stuck in the middle seat on an airplane and what do to when the person sitting in front of you reclines their seat directly into your face, breaking your nose. But The Daily Sam’s Guide to Etiquette is an all-purpose guide, and to prove that, today I am going to descend from the airways to the far more dangerous sidewalks of San Francisco.
This morning I was walking up California Street* on my way to work, minding my own business, watching the cable car roll by, people eating Rice a Roni, Tony Bennett singing, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Inc. heading to the office—just another day in San Francisco—when I noticed a couple coming straight at me, each of them pushing a baby carriage. I moved over to the right, per local custom. There was plenty of space for everyone, if we all worked together.
Ha! What a fool I was to think that we might all work together. They kept coming, acting as if I wasn’t there, and so I moved over until I was almost against the building, giving them basically a football field-width space to pass by me on the left, but to no avail. They kept coming, hogging the entire sidewalk, talking about their plans for the day. I think one of them was texting. But although I was frightened, I was not going to give in to that kind of intimidation. No one pushing a baby carriage was going to make me give up my God-given right to walk down a public sidewalk when there was plenty of room for them if they just moved over a little bit. I mean, what were they going to do—run me down?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question was “yes.” They were not moving over, and they each had a fierce expression on their face. My guess is even the babies had fierce expressions on their faces as the wheels of the carriage crushed my bones.
And this is the problem. Everyone thinks that whatever it is they are doing is more important than what everyone else is doing. Sometimes we are so convinced of this that we won’t even move over for emergency vehicles. But motor vehicles are a matter to be dealt with in another blog. The question for us today is, how are we going to restore civility to our sidewalks, where everyone respects all people’s right to be there, with the exception of mimes?
Next time you are walking down the sidewalk, move over when you see someone coming the other way. If you are walking side-by-side with your lover or pal, would it kill you to walk in single file for a moment, so that the person coming the other way doesn’t have to step into the street and get hit by a bus? And what are we going to do about my hospital bill, once I get out of traction? Can I send it to Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina?
*Actually, I was walking up the sidewalk adjacent to California Street.