Wandering Sidewalk Meanderers of New York City


It’s time to address what I feel is a very serious problem in New York City: The Wandering Sidewalk Meanderers.

Never heard of them? Allow me to raise your awareness.

A Wandering Sidewalk Meanderer comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms, but they all have one defining quality: slowly walking in the middle of the sidewalk, occasionally veering to one side or another, usually just as you’ve increased your speed of walking in hopes of passing them.

These Meanderers will keep you trapped in their wake for blocks on end, seemingly knowing exactly which side you’re going to attempt to pass on and when you’re going to do it. They keep their leisurely pace, not considering the fact that perhaps the people stuck behind them are late for work, hurrying to brunch, or trying to catch a movie. No no, these Wanderers are quite determined to single-handedly slow the pace of New York City, one harried walker at a time.

Generally, they take the form of old people, which is almost excusable. As you approach one such Wanderer, you momentarily slow down on your own accord, taking the care not to interrupt their calculated steps or accidentally knock them off balance. You briefly marvel at their gumption and strength to continue living in such a busy city at such an age, much less to keep on walkin’ along instead of succumbing to easier modes of transportation. But beware, unsuspecting sidewalkers. These little old people are devils in disguise, for I believe they think that if THEY have to slow down, the whole world must slow down with them. It’s as though their age has ripened their intuition, and they make a game out of blocking your way, knowing full well you’re too conscientious to barrel right past them. They gracefully shift back and forth, confusing and frustrating you until you give up and feel like a horrible human being for getting annoyed with a sweet old lady in the first place.

Another majority is tourists. You know the ones. Hoards of school groups on walking tours, families with cameras and maps in hand, couples madly in love on vacation. Even tourists by themselves. You can always spot a tourist because they are either:

  1. Not dressed appropriately for the climate. At all.
  2. Proudly and smugly sporting NYC apparel as though all New Yorkers proclaim their New York-ness to the masses
  3. Looking up at the buildings, mouths agape like some sort of trout.
  4. Wandering around the Sidewalk

Now usually, the final factor is the product of a combination of the first three. They are overwhelmed by the sweltering heat and sweating through their jeans, so they can’t walk quickly. They’ve never been here before, so they don’t know where they’re going or how to get there. They’re in awe of their surroundings (which is cute, but frustrating all the same) so they stroll like it’s Sunday in the park. NO, TOURISTS. You are the reason why New Yorkers hate Times Square. Honestly, the tourists are even worse than the little old perpetrators, because they usually walk 3 or 4 across, further inhibiting your ability to scoot around them. And they don’t have the added benefit of being cute and wrinkly.

And sometimes, it’s simply random: a housewife on her phone, a dejected college student who had a hard day. I understand the need to walk slow, but don’t weave about! We CANT HAVE THIS, people! Imagine the havoc that be wreaked if people in cars did this as well, driving slower than the speed limit and weaving all around the road. Horns would be blared, wrecks would be caused, thousands of dollars in damages would be accrued. It’s too bad we don’t have little sidewalk horns we can honk…perhaps we should make sidewalk rules and regulations! Or perhaps I’m just becoming just another impatient New Yorker.


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