6/14/10

City Blockers

Combine one part apathy, one part narcissism and one part urban-burnout and what do you get?  You get a Way-blocker.

There are all types of people who can be In the Way, to whom one can assign varying degrees of culpability.  People who are obstructing your view in a theater or at a parade simply because they are tall can not be blamed at all (though I think anyone over 6’ 4” should really consider sitting in the back--especially if they are thinking of sitting in front of me.)  Awe-struck tourists who stand in the middle of the sidewalk looking up may be irritating when you are late for work but ultimately must be forgiven for their naiveté.  Parents who block aisles and crosswalks with huge baby strollers do sometimes appear to have a sense of entitlement about their procreative right to slow up the world, but still, one has to take a deep breath and let them off the hook. (I mean, they can’t carry those kids around on the tops of their heads, and one must remember that most of them are majorly sleep-deprived.)  Even people who are talking on cell phones, oblivious to the flow around them, can be seen as distracted more than destructive.  Slow walkers, folks walking four abreast, people with poor shopping cart control--these are minor hinderers who can be frustrating, but for whom we all have to muster a little patience.

However, there is one form of offender that, in my book, can not be excused:  these are the people who stand smack in the way of the subway doors--when there is plenty of room further in the car--impeding the other passengers from getting on and off.

What can these blockading blockheads be thinking?  Do they really want the train to take longer? In fact, the act of standing still in public doorways of any kind is a mystery to me, unless there is a possibility of an earthquake.  I mean, you have to be from another planet not to understand what a doorway is for. A doorway is like a faucet, a highway, or a digestive tract. You can’t just hang out in the opening--in the middle of the passageway--without getting some kind of a jam or a clog.

As a society we are becoming increasingly less aware of the needs and feelings of others around us (and yes, I am so often on this particular bandwagon I get Frequent Complainer Miles). Subway door blockers seem to me to be an obvious symptom of this deterioration. But is it possible that in this case I am guilty of a similar kind of narcissism or insensitivity? After all, there are always two sides, two perspectives. If I am on my bike on the Hudson River path, for example, I sometimes can not believe the cluelessness of pedestrians; but when I am walking on that same path I can be similarly miffed at careless people whizzing by on their bikes. So maybe I am not seeing things from the subway door-blockers’ point of view.  If so, I do apologize. 

Now please get out of my way.

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