I am truly aware that the subject of walking along the pavement does not, on the face of it, seem like a subject to spark much interesting conversation. And for those of you who absolutely and completely disagree with the above and before you start yelling at your screen.
I feel your pain.
I am truly aware that walking along the pavement in Hong Kong has been covered and at the risk of seeming hyperbolic - seven million times before! It even has a name 'Asian drift'
Moreover (*see below) I am truly aware that people, and by that I mean people who are my friends or could be a potential friend) understand, appreciate and embrace the unwritten rules of pavement etiquette. The subtext meaning, and I feel it necessary to be completely transparent here, because if you don't understand pavement etiquette you may not get that you are not and never will be my friend if you don't practice pavement etiquette. I have standards.
In an all embracing positive educational lesson in personal growth the following is the previously unwritten, unspoken pavement etiquette for those of you who need it spelling out.
Keeping a pace or speed that enables the rest of humanity on the pavement to smoothly convey themselves from lets say, their home to their work place, and not make them explode out of frustration due to the snail pace adopted by many pavement etiquette challenged people is the number one essential skill. Walking faster than a depressed sloth is unacceptable. Speed up!
One foot in front of the other
Getting from point a) to point b) can be much more efficient if each footfall is approximately the size of two of your own feet, one in front of the f***ing other. This is simply achieved by picking up each foot and moving it swiftly forward. It is essential to miss out dragging the heel of the shoe, sandal or flip flop along the pavement in a sluvenly manner. I may need to point out that once the first foot has made it the second one should follow for the sake of succinct progress.
I am not suggesting you adopt a cat burglar style of walking simply a quieter one. Pay attention to any noise you tend to make whilst in the act of walking. If you can hear a rhythmic shushing noise which stops when you stop walking, that's you. If you are unaware of how the noise occurs try picking your feet up as you walk and resist the temptation to drag making an annoying shushing. I am also aware of podiatrist advice that flip flops are really bad for your feet and also posture and cause long term spine damage, so get some shoes that stay on your feet and allow you to run for a bus if you need to.
In these days of smart phones there is the fairly new phenomenon of texting/viewing/sexting/lisening/adding/capturing while walking. But, dear reader, the phenomena of drifting off the unmarked walking in a straight line - line is not new. It is common and has been common for years and years that in Hong Kong pedestrians are given to literally wandering along pavements in a meandering fashion. The indecisiveness of the drifitng walk is frustrating given that pavements here are busy, in fact chockablock full of folk, all meandering along causing difficult access for others who simply want to overtake. Without actual lines drawn on the pavement (and that is another idea hatching) the drifters are simply unable to sense another pedestrian in their peripheral vision resulting in a person (me for instance) in several failed attempts to get past.
I try approaching from the left and just as I am in danger of getting my foot entangled with theirs they veer off to the left so I have to slow down and hang back in their slip stream while I change tactics and try the maneuver from the right. Then there may be a possible elbow touching or shoulder bag blockage once again forcing me back into their slip stream and once again, getting frustrated now, having to walk behind a slow paced, flip flop dragging pavement etiquette challenged individual who has no peripheral vision capability.
My advice for those of you who do not realize when other people are overtaking you is to turn you head to the right or left occasionally and look.
Now to tackle the group walking along the pavement which is difficult enough to negotiate when in the group. But to be forced into an encounter with a group and by that I mean three or more, is incredibly frustrating. A group becomes an impenetrable mass impossible to overtake and who so often adopt a sloth paced shuffle blocking access to shop door ways or various differing turn off points along the pavement. Should an innocent solo pavement user, like myself, decide that she wants to break away from her straight line, fairly fast paced, stealth-like walk and enter a shop, then a group is present on said pavement, it is near impossible to make them aware of the necessary change of direction she wants to take.
The present situation means that a shoulder tackle of some force has to be used in order to get through the group who are heading straight (ish). Unbelievably at these times when barging and pushing has been absolutely necessary, the members of the group adopt a hurt and shocked attitude as if they are completely unaware of the blockage they are causing. In fact I believe they believe they are the only people on the pavement or actually in the world because their empathy with other pavement users is zilch.
My advice to group pavement walkers is to adopt some semblance of good manners and try standing to one side while gesturing with one hand a clear and unobstructed path for any other solo pavement user to pass in front. You could make this experience a little more enjoyable for all concerned if you said "After you" or similar, at this point.
Walking down a crowded street holding hands is particularly annoying and blocks the steady flow of other pavement users. Stop it!
Holding a door for anyone is an alien concept in these parts. There are two ways to improve this situation. If you go through a door first and someone is directly behind you it is good manners to hold the door for then as opposed to letting it go and risk it slamming in their face. If you approach a door and there is a woman with a baby in a pushchair behind you, open the door wide for her and let her go first. This goes for disabled people or injured people and is not grounds for a medal just expected behaviour in the civilized world. Do it!
* moreover is a word that needs to be eliminated from Hong Kong.
See me - that is my teacher voice - all who continue - for detention and possible spanking.