The Wrong Side of the Road?

by Chalky

I get a perverse satisfaction from walking on the left side of the pavement.

People tend to walk on the side of the road that they drive on (here in the USA, the right). When I first moved here, I unconsciously walked on the left and constantly found people in my way (or rather, me in theirs). Not until somebody mentioned it to me did I become a right-sider.

Occasionally, however, I find myself on the left and a poor, unwitting American approaching from the opposite direction. Our paths are locked on a collision course. But only one of us is aware of the psychology of multi-cultural pedestrianism.

There is a moment of indecision. You can see it in their face – a flicker of puzzlement as they know that something is not quite right. I firmly hold my course (the pride of my country is at stake, after all). Then, at the last minute, they drift over to their left. We pass like ships in the night.

But I know what they have experienced. An uncomfortable feeling so minor that they were hardly aware of it, and its cause. Moreover, they were definitely not aware that I was aware.

It is this, this knowing of the minds of others, that is so oddly rewarding. Of knowing their thoughts and predicting their behaviour.

I do not do this often. That would be cruel. But, perhaps, I shall one day find myself approaching another schooled in the arts of pedestrianism…