The Heedless Gape

Filed under good times at everyone else's expense, living in new york sucks so hard, my uber-confrontational personality, why i'm better than everyone else

You probably know by now that I hate people who don’t conform to the sorts of etiquette rules that keep society running smoothly, such as waiting for me to leave the train before you enter and giving a friendly wave when I let you turn ahead of me in heavy traffic lest I ram my front end into your brand new BMW.

My big pet peeve as of late are people who walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk. I used to assume, to keep myself sane, that all of the people doing it were from countries where they foolishly drive on the wrong side of the road, but I eventually realized that it’s just a product of living in a city where there way too many people who think they’re too important to follow the crowd and leave space beside them for people to pass.

Kamran thinks I should give couples more leeway when it comes to taking up the entire sidewalk on some of NYC’s teeny streets, but he and I always make a single-file line when we see someone coming so as to not rub it in their face how happy we are holding hands as we walk to the grocery store and how pathetic and meaningless they are as unattached folk. But no. I do not give them more leeway. And I actually hate them more than single people on the wrong side of the sidewalk, because between the two of them, one should have the decency to move aside.

Anyway, I’ve begun implementation of a new method to combat the sidewalk-hogger. I call it The Heedless Gape. When I see someone coming at me on the wrong side of the sidewalk, I simply keep walking at my desired pace and look off into the distance as if I see something so fantastical and all-consuming that other passersby don’t even register with me. Eventually, and usually with an angry huff, the offender will move aside so I can continue on in gawking glee.

I’ve considered what will happen if ever someone refuses to get over, and I’ve decided I’ll just patiently stand my ground until the other person gives up. And you know he’ll give up before I do, because the one advantage to being a very unimportant person in a city full of important people is that I have nowhere to go.


  1. Sandy says:

    I read this as Heedless Grape. Which I think is a way better strategy.

  2. My GOD, I love you.

    People should walk like they drive, i.e., on the right side of the street/sidewalk/whatever. And in Europe, they should do it on the left.

    Personally, I think the U.N. should make this some sort of law, and violations of it should be prosecuted as war crimes.

  3. dd says:

    I do this too! Lack of eye contact, attention elsewhere… I don’t walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk or I’d be concerned that we might crash one of these days.

    • I wish! And then it’d be a total showdown of the aloof as we waited indefinitely for the other person to move.

      I’m trying to think what would cause me to move first, and the first thing that came to mind was you peeing on me. I feel sort of gross just thinking about it.

  4. thickcrust says:

    The Heedless Gape is very similar to an unnamed strategy to discovered quickly upon moving to New York. I just look down at the ground. People coming toward to will move out of the way. I think in the years I’ve been using this technique it works 90% of the time. I can’t say it failed the other 10%. I lost my nerve.

    The idea is the same, but I had a specific reason for looking down. I lived way up in the 180’s in Manhattan, in a neighborhood where people refused to pick up after their dogs. In the winter turds covered the sidewalks like fallen leaves in autumn. To this day I have a hard time walking anywhere in the city without looking at the ground at all times.

  5. kat says:

    I love this entry! While I do not myself use the Heedless Gape, if there are people walking at me on the sidewalk either a) thinking that they are more important than me and thus on the wrong side, or b) too engrossed in their iPhone/iPod/BlackBerry/etc. to look up, I will stop. And stand. Until the either run into me or remove themselves from my path.

    • That’s actually way more badass than my approach. I’m basically just being passive-aggressive, whereas you’re like, “I’m looking right at you, and I’m not moving. NOW WHAT, BITCH?”

      Love it.

  6. nastassia says:

    I missed your blog, with your witty, clever entries.

  7. Tracey says:

    The Heedless Gape is great and all, but whatever happened to the Steely Dan?

  8. Cristy says:

    Everybody needs someone like you in their life to keep them grounded. I’m so glad I found your blog. Hilarious!