By Nancy Mendelson

Here’s a great big bird flip to the couple who blocked the Northwest corner of 35th Street and Park Avenue yesterday morning, during rush hour, for what seemed like an eternity, with the most ridiculous PDA I have ever seen. It was more a Public Display of Affliction than affection, and it got my attention, but not in that attracted-yet-repelled, GET A ROOM kind of way.

There was none of the garden variety writhing or groping or grunting or tonguing that comes with the traditionally irksome PDA. Rather, this couple planted themselves on the sidewalk and stood, rigid and lifeless, with their lips locked as though they were stuck to either side of a frozen popsicle, oblivious to humanity and even the dogs surrounding them. They were so irritating that I nearly crossed that fine line between thought bubble and screaming banshee: Really People? Wake the f*ck up!!!! I nearly blurted.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem breaking my stride for a good reason. If someone asks for directions, or needs help crossing the street, or falls, I always try to help. Once, while walking to work, I leapt into the middle of Lexington Avenue without forethought to comfort a Japanese tourist who was the victim of a hit-and-run. She was just sitting there, trembling and alone, while a group of unhelpful bystanders gawked. Even though she spoke no English and my knowledge of her language was limited to ordering sushi, we sat there together, holding hands, until the ambulance came to take her to the hospital. Honestly, I didn’t know I had it in me.

But clearly I am not some hardened, get-out-of-my-way-or-else type of bitch. It’s just that New Yorkers walk with purpose. Whether we actually have one or not is irrelevant. It’s simply the way it is.

So whether you live here or are just visiting, please keep in mind that there are living, breathing beings around you. To navigate the city without pissing people off, you might consider the following helpful hints:

  • While I understand that the purpose of a PDA is to prove that you are so in love that you are unafraid to be watched by strangers while showcasing said love, step aside to do so. Don’t block the box!!! I promise you will still get noticed.
  • Who among us hasn’t dragged a rolling suitcase behind them? And who hasn’t tripped over one? Pay attention! Enough said.
  • Look up from your iPhone or Android or Blackberry once in a while, because you are probably about to run into someone, or some street sign!!!! (OK, I’m guilty of this as well, but I’m really trying to stop.)
  • Just because we are standing next to each other waiting for the light to turn green, doesn’t mean I am remotely interested in how your date went last night. Keep it down when chatting on your cell phone.
  • If one more dog leash gets wrapped around my ankles…Geez, do I even have to say it???? And when your dog has to poop or pee, keep it curbside, I beg you!!!!

The list of sidewalk related RPM’s goes on and on: From crazy-ass bicycle delivery guys to packs of skateboarders who treat you like human traffic cones. Feel free to submit RPMs of your own. Reader Mary V already did:

One thing that makes me CRAZY that doesn’t seem to bother anyone else is LEAKING EARPHONES. The tinny cacophony from all directions makes me go out of my mind but it seems like I’m the only one.

I hear you, Mary. Actually earphones and earbuds in general drive me crazy, leaking or otherwise. So know that you are not alone.

Aussie reader Thomas S’s pet peeve is:

Groups of people who walk abreast down the sidewalk shoulder to shoulder like a football offensive line, forcing us poor mortals to the kerb [sic] to get around the line. My new survival tactic is to look and walk straight through them without breaking stride.”

Good on ya, Mate. Go deep!!!!

Look, this is one of the greatest cities in the world. But I really believe that if enough of us speak up about the things we do to drive each other nuts, we might actually promote the concept of AWARENESS and go up another notch on the food chain. And who doesn’t want that?!

2 Responses to Really People? The Sidewalk Situation

  1. Tom S. says:

    A double bird flip to the Kamikaze bike messenger who whined that I
    tried to kill him when I had the audacity to get out of my cab on 28th.
    Of course riding between traffic and parked cars and a stopped cab
    didn’t penetrate his entitled skull as being more than a little
    dangerous. Get a clue, you are not the only ones on the road.

  2. For me the most maddening NYC street sin is the double-wide stroller! and what’s worse… the double wide stroller inside Grace’s or WholeFoods or any number of specialty grocery stores where people tend to linger in aisles looking at the content of 10 grain mustard. One word- “double-decker.” This is NYC after all- space is at a premium, sidewalks are tight, store aisles are tight- go up!

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