The research study that I have long awaited has finally been published. An article in the Wall Street Journal summarizes the work of researchers in the USA who have identified and analysed ‘Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome’:
Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a "mean face" or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.
The article – please read it, and do click on the amusing cartoon illustration showing a ludicrously roomy sidewalk scenario – also has a very helpful sidebar that allows us to evaluate our own sidewalking practices according to a list of signs indicating the presence of Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome. I did just that, to see if I suffered from this worrisome malady:
Well, yes, but this is a given no matter what speed they’re walking at.
Yes, I’m sure that tree sloth I’ve cut off was feeling hostile and rude holding me back the way he did . . .
I suggest you ask the ‘person’ trying to cut ahead of me at the Kowloon Bay MTR escalator yesterday what he thinks of my competitive spirit.
Given my feelings about my co-pedestrians (see the first item), I’m not likely to try to get any closer to them than is absolutely necessary.
Now why would I feel stress about walking in crowded areas? Let’s take a little trip back in time to that same Kowloon Bay MTR station. It’s a night of pouring rain, and the staircase up to the bridge leading into the station is blocked entirely by people who don’t want to go out into the rain, and who have distributed themselves en masse right across the entire stairway. Mr Tall and the other wannabe stair-climbers inch forward in the deluge for 10 minutes to advance the 15 feet needed to reach the staircase. So again, why would I feel stress?
The ability to walk efficiently at speed is a gift God has given me, and it would be a sin of omission to leave it unused.
Sorry, but just what do we mean here by ‘yielding’? Do we mean that, when disembarking from an MTR car, we stand aside as the doors open so the pack of crazed see lai with visions of empty seats in their eyes can barge ahead of those of us exiting the train?
The day when all passageways in Hong Kong are organized according to a definite left/right standard is the day I’ll worry about this one.
Perhaps, but since they’re either on the phone or listening to mobile devices anyway, they can’t hear me, so what does it matter?
This is a question of simple physics. Newton’s First Law states that a body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. So if my crashing into someone who stops dead in the middle of the sidewalk to better concentrate on texting an update to his Facebook page constitutes ‘bumping into’, then I say that every thread of the cosmos cries out in protest at this injustice.
Since when in Hong Kong are apologies expected?
We all know, of course, that it’s possible to identify and employ gestures that are grounds for pistols at dawn in, say, Slovenia, but that have no meaning whatever in Hong Kong. (Not that I admit having done any research in this area.)
But so many times I am unaware! How can they know when I’m simply acting?
There is no anger more pure, more utterly satisfactory, than the anger directed at a Hong Kong driver who sees a light about to turn red, but never the less pulls into and blocks a pedestrian crossing, well knowing he’ll never make it through in time. As we humble groundlings shamble around his glossy Lexus, should we really be denied the chance of giving him the Mean Face, and maybe just a gesture or two?
Hmmm. I’ve certainly enjoyed the thoughts I’ve experienced while working through this list.
Readers, how about you?