It’s easy to pick up habits after moving to a new city. London is no different. Everyone walks with pace and purpose, so it’s natural that I don’t stand out doing the same. Whether in London or not, schools have a bit of this also. Hallways are like arteries between the classrooms and cafeterias, groups of students and individuals all moving in different directions. The speed people move at, and moreso the momentum they have, means there should be a few rules to the road. Several pedestrian tendencies drive me up the wall and need a socially responsible solution.
First, the Huddle. It’s more often seen at school than in the streets but the right field trip at the right time can do the trick. The indecisiveness of a few young ladies is most often the cause, with gents flanking on all sides for attention. Personally, a big loud “Excuse me” works best, but it definitely doesn’t prevent it from happening again. Second, the Cellphone. I want to lower my shoulder into their limp, unprepared body. There’s no shame in pulling over to the side and taking a minute for directions. Third, the Quickturn. Here’s where the culprit faces the most risk. Crashing into a preoccupied phone user is criminal, running over the girl who makes a quick 180 on the sidewalk is inevitable. Finally, and worst of all, the Overflow. For some reason all four friends need to walk in the same row, 2×2 isn’t for them. The end of the wall, the guy that lets out a small smirk as I step into the street, always seems to be an uncomfortably pretty, leather jacketed, Italian. As I turn around to ensure a double decker doesn’t destroy me, it becomes clear there’s literally no other way. So these days, I go for a physical shoulder bump, easily the peak of my daily aggression. It’s not an upending, over-the-middle type of shoulder, but still elicits the expected “What was that for!”.
Half of me doesn’t want to be bothered by any of this. Just walk through life with headphones on, happily bouncing around the world like everyone else. But my neatness, really my fairness, doesn’t want to see people get a free pass from common decency. I haven’t figured out how to clean it up, but there’s time yet.
Once in awhile I’ll head into a small sandwich place for breakfast. Like a lot of small shops, it has a wooden fold sign on the sidewalk displaying prices and an L shaped, windowed fridge with rows of lunch sandwiches displayed. Breakfast is a la carte. Start with one egg or sausage on a roll and build from there. Like the £1 coffee, I’m looking for a new breakfast plan not just today’s meal. Day one, after ordering a few eggs and meat on a roll, I was charged about £0.50 more than expected. Not a lot, sure, but such a cheap move. The prices outside matched inside, but at the register the well dressed manager had different plans. The two employees reacted with an odd mix of guilt and innocence that put the pressure on me to keep prying. So I did, and forced them to admit the prices on the sign are bogus. Sure, never going back and boycotting is the first step, but there should be more. After I’ve already ordered and I’m preparing my £3.00, it doesn’t seem right that the price can change.
It’s no surprise these things happen. Regardless of my totally anal, compulsive state of mind at the time, there are other people, perfectly happy people that I’d probably love if I met, who are in a complete opposite state. It’s somehow comforting. Thinking that the store owner has a good reason for raising prices or some kid is dropping all the right lines in that Huddle, impressing his future wife. But I’m still open for suggestions.