Irreverent Mama

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Long weekend walks are a summer tradition for Matthew and me. Down the path by the canal through the centre of the city, to our favourite coffee shop, there to imbibe our favourite iced coffee. The path is reasonably wide, paved, and even has a yellow line down the centre.

Ah, the decadence of urban life!

The path along the canal is increasingly popular, though, which means that the glories of the path are shared with other pedestrians, cyclists, and roller bladers.

"Shared" being a generous term for some.

People stroll in clusters. They meandre in clumps. No harm in that, so long as the path is clear. Common courtesy, of course, dictates that when someone approaches you, the clumps and clusters must dissolve into something approaching single file. Or at least, they should shrink their amoebic form so as to fit on their side of the line.

Common courtesy, however, as we have all had cause to lament, isn't so common any more. And don't be thinking this kind of oblivion is restricted to groups of teens. Nuh-uh. Chattering groups of middle-aged women are awful for this. Awful! (I'm 46. Why?) As are clusters of steaming, hard-bodied thirty-something men, pounding by on their daily "aerobic workout". Decorative as the latter may be, they are less than pleasing when one is watching their passage from the bushes at the side of the path where one has leapt, gazelle-like, in sheerest self-defense.

I am at an age and level of ornery-ness where I am unwilling to swish to one side to allow a cluster of five to pass in a clump, completely oblivious to my presence.

I HAVE a presence, dammit, and you WILL take heed!

So I simply don't cede the space. With the teens and the women, I square my shoulders and continue in my course. Mostly, they leap out of MY way moments before impact. Which has a certain amount of satisfaction. But - and this will tell you something unfortunate about my character, I'm sure - I rather prefer it when there's an impact.

I am prepared for it, you see. They are expecting mild-mannered me to leap aside. When I don't, they thud into my unyielding shoulder. They careen off to one side. They have a look of shock on their faces. They are astonished.

"Oops!" I say, with a cheerful, kindly, middle-aged-lady smile. "Ignore ME, would you!" shrieks my blood-thirsty, vengeance-driven Inner Crone.

With the hard-bodied steamers, to continue walking into their sweaty midst would be little short of suicidal. Instead, I stand utterly still. It's best if you can make firm eye contact with the alpha-male in the group, but not always possible. It takes some courage to stand your ground as the steaming horde approaches, but I've never been mowed down yet. The group splits and they steam on around me. Some have been known to stumble a little in the shock of having a body suddenly loom into their oblivion. A few drops of man-sweat spattered on my arm are a small price to pay for claiming my right to my half of the damned path.

No more will this polite woman be held hostage by the rude of the world. Or at least the oblivious of the canal path.

I am here, and YOU can get off MY side of the damned path.

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  • Ooohh, er, missus, I'm glad I wont bump into you!

    By Blogger john.g., at 10:53 a.m.  

  • HELL yes. Can I get a "Team Irreverent Mama" t-shirt? I'm so on inspire me!

    By Blogger Carolie, at 12:56 p.m.  

  • You go, girl! Or stop and stand still as the case may be....

    I'm with you on this one. I love the amazed looks on people's faces when they bump into you, especially if you're on a narrow path that gives you nowhere to go, but up. What do they expect you to do? Levitate? Grrr!

    In answer to your question, I suspect that your being 46 might have something to do with having been born in either 1960 or 1961. ;)

    By Blogger The Wrath of Dawn, at 8:06 p.m.  

  • I walk with my son and another mom from the 'hood and she is a total sidewalk hog. I kind of want to tell her so.
    You'd bump into her for sure!

    By Blogger Denguy, at 11:04 p.m.  

  • I agree with Carolie! What a wonderful post! And so were your others too! You are a woman I would love to share iced coffee and walks with (and I would even move over for other people on the path when we walked! Congrats on your marriage and I loved the post about the Little Girl that visited you! What a terrific blog!

    By Blogger The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!), at 6:18 p.m.  

  • That picture reminds me of the Arkansas River running through downtown Wichita. The city is working to improve the River Corridor as the call it, and it is really becoming a very nice walk.

    The pedestrians you describe sound like some of the mall walkers around here. They may look like sweet little grandmothers, but get in the way of their speed walking and there is usually hell (or at least a bruised shin) to pay. Stand your ground! Don't let those people push you around.

    By Blogger Jenni, at 12:04 a.m.  

  • we walk a creek path - but not as much traffic on it. I prefer the cyclist that have little bells or horns, so I know they are coming behind me to pass.

    I'm like a weeble and I wobble

    By Blogger Pamela, at 12:29 a.m.  

  • Good for you! Love this post. I'm sure I would buckle at the last moment.

    By Anonymous min, at 2:03 a.m.  

  • I too scared of contfrontation I'd get out the way, love your braveness, maybe some will wash off on me!

    By Blogger Beccy, at 4:21 a.m.  

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