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Sidewalk etiquette: Talking the talk about walking the walk

Laughing Matters/Off the Board/Opinion by

Montreal is a wonderful city for walking—not only because of its pedestrian streets, quirky architecture, and beautiful street art—but because of the eclectic array of pedestrians strolling down the streets. There are arm-swingers, head-bobbers, aggressive J-walkers, and many others. Some types of walkers are unsettling, however, particularly during the slush-filled spring. In the weeks to come, beware of these street creatures.

First and foremost, steer clear of the cluster—the row of friends walking in a perfectly horizontal line, clogging the sidewalk. Let’s even hold hands, shall we? Clusters give you three options: Stay back, break through, or step into a puddle of slush. Giggling, they go “wooooah!” if you try for the second option. Clusters are adorable. But other pedestrians hate them. Please, let us pass through without making us feel weird about it!

Next, keep the magnetic-man in mind. This is the pedestrian you try to pass but he fakes left, fakes right, and then goes left and right again! You just initiated a dance with the magnetic man. He has the perfect intuition to match your every move. When you clearly veer to one side, he moves in the same direction. He is a magnet, and you are iron.

Additionally, Atlas is a walker to avoid. A wonder to this world, this person can carry everything at once! He heads to the gym, runs his weekly errands, goes to the laundromat, and listens to his motivational podcast all in the same stroke. This is especially impressive because he carries all of his baggage, right in front of you. Balancing a ludicrously large gym bag, three grocery bags, his laundry basket, and an abandoned chair he picked up on the way home, we can all agree that the Atlas is inspiring, albeit an enormous obstacle to everyone else on the street.

Moving on, look out for Parallelle. Like a ballerina, she dances down the other side of the street with every move perfectly synced to a mirror reflection of—you guessed it—you! That’s right, you are in tandem, and this makes you feel so, so uncomfortable. You do not know why, but pacing down the street perfectly side-by-side with a stranger creates this overwhelming sensation of wrong. Thankfully, Parallelle shares your anxiety as she imitates you. If there is any humanity left in her, she will either speed up, or slow down.

Take heed of the zombie: That dude in front of you who always has red eyes and whose superpower is doing everything in slow-motion—truly, very slow motion.

Finally, take heed of the zombie: That dude in front of you who always has red eyes and whose superpower is doing everything in slow-motion—truly, very slow motion. You wonder why, and then come to understand it is because his brain has been absorbed by the little gadget in front of him. He may be wearing flashy socks or a small hat, and he probably smells really bad. Unfortunately, he cannot understand the words, “excuse me,” because he has conditioned himself to only understand the language of DMs.

Dear pedestrians, stick to the right and pass on the left, say “excuse me” when necessary, and keep your eyes and ears open—notably out of respect for seniors, young families, and disabled persons in Montreal. Our streets should be dominated by respect and inclusion, and not by the creatures slowing us down. That way we can all move forward, at our own pace.

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