Seattle’s Sidewalk Etiquette Sucks Serious Shit

The sidewalks of Seattle are a battlefield. A leisurely stroll downtown quickly turns into a high-stakes game of pedestrian Frogger. You bob and weave; you dash and dart; you stop and go. As Seattleites, we champion and support many causes, but, when our feet hit the pavement, our consideration and respect for others flies out the window.

Simply put: Seattle’s sidewalk etiquette sucks serious shit.

I’m being flippant, but this isn’t a trivial matter. Our opinion of the people around us is greatly informed by these brief and subtle interactions and, ergo, they inform our perspective of the world.

I don’t want to get too hippy-dippy or venture into self-help guru territory, but we can make these interactions better.

More positive.

More affirming.

Less self-centered.

So, put those pitchforks and torches away, quell the mob, take a deep breath and relax because—just like Frankenstein’s monster—I only have good intentions.

For those of you who don’t know, it’s possible to walk the streets of Seattle without being a douche canoe. If you’re assuming that doesn’t apply to you, you’re probably part of the problem. It’s easily remedied, however. Don’t be a jerk, stay aware, and follow these simple guidelines.

The Phalanx

Holy shit! The Spartans are advancing with pikes and shields in a phalanx formation! It’s just like that movie 300! Is that Gerard Butler? I was wondering where he’s been lately. Oh, wait—my bad—that’s a group of four people who don’t know how to share the sidewalk and are refusing to make room for my single-wide ass.

Never, under any circumstance, should you walk four-people-wide on a busy sidewalk. Two is the absolute maximum.

Next time I see this, I’m seriously considering shouting, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Anthony over!” and charging full-speed ahead.

Your Over-Stuffed Backpack Hits Other People

Did you just get back from that super awesome hiking trip to Iceland? That’s rad! You’re so privileged (wink, wink).

You may have forgotten about this during your sojourn into isolation, but other people still exist. If you make a quick turn with that 2-foot-long battering ram on your back, you can hit someone. Watch out! 

Pretend You’re a Car—Walk on the Right

Were you listening to me, Neo, or were you looking at the woman walking on the wrong side of the fucking sidewalk?

I’ve always assumed this was an unspoken rule: you walk on the right side of the sidewalk. I’ve lived in Seattle for more than a decade, and, I can tell you with utmost certainty, we’re definitely not on the same page when it comes to this unspoken rule.

The sidewalks of Seattle are chaos. People walk directly at you and they wander willy-nilly without intent or purpose. In some parts of the country, they call it “moseying.” That’s cool and all, but if you’re gonna do that, just walk on the right side of the sidewalk and not directly at me. That’s all I ask. It’ll make everyone’s life 1,000% easier. Guaranteed.

Seriously though, if this is all you take away from this article and you actually put it into practice, I will die happy.

Your Dog Isn’t Special

Your dog’s leash doesn’t need to stretch across the entire fucking sidewalk. Reel that shit in.

Fuck You & Your Goddamn Phone

As a society, we’re still figuring out how to appropriately handle our smartphones in the workplace, when we’re socializing IRL, and when we’re out and about in public. When is it appropriate to update your social media? Why are you checking your feed right now? Is this worth posting? Should you “Like” that comment? Does [INSERT YOUR ROMANTIC INTEREST HERE] still love you? Why don’t they call? You’re walking to the grocery store and there are people right behind you—should you text your romantic interest right now?

No.

You should definitely not text them right now.

And, if you absolutely need to, stop and move to the side. By moving aside, you will 1.) text them faster and 2.) stay out of the way of other people.

If you’re using your phone while walking, you’re walking at a slower pace—which annoys the people around you. Plus, it’s dangerous. You could get hit by a goddamn car.

As a general rule of thumb, if whatever task you’re performing on your phone takes longer than 5-10 seconds to complete, stop and move aside.

There are Bike Lanes for a Reason

That’s it. Use the bike lane. Thanks. 

I Don’t Care About Your Stupid Photo

If you were Annie Lebovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, or even Ansel Adams, I might care about your stupid photo, but, look in the mirror jackass, you’re not them.

Have you ever noticed that amateur photographers choose busy intersections to take a photo of their family? They expect everyone else to stop whatever they’re doing until they’ve captured their shot.

There’s a word for that, isn’t there? Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s called “bullshit.”

I can’t stop, won’t stop. And neither should you. Walk right through their stupid goddamn family photo opp. Don’t worry. You’re not ruining anything. In this day and age, the vast majority of people use digital cameras and they can take another photo until their heart’s content.

Only a douche canoe thinks they should stop the flow of pedestrian traffic to take a photo. Don’t be that douche canoe. Move to the side—or pick a different location altogether—to take your photo.

Don’t Stand in the Middle Part 1: You Can Wait for the Bus and Not Be in the Way

Excuse me, sir, is that a wall over there? Oh, it is? Why don’t you go and stand against it until your bus arrives? Thanks.

Don’t Stand in the Middle Part 2: Your Friendship Circle Jerk

It happens to everyone. You’re walking down the street when you run into some friends you haven’t seen in a while. You gotta catch up! Right there. In a circle. In the middle of the damn sidewalk. For an uncomfortably long period of fucking time.

Wait. Don’t do that. Move to the side.

Don’t Stand in the Middle Part 3: Stand Aside Doofus

Have you ever seen someone shut down completely? Like the Energizer Bunny? They’re walking along normally when—out of nowhere—their mouth hangs open and they stare into the distance like they’ve had a sudden epiphany? As if the secrets of the universe were revealed to them in one leveling moment? And it happened on the sidewalk? Right the fuck in front of you?

I don’t know what’s happening there either, and frankly, I don’t care, but that doofus needs to stand aside.

Is that Golf Umbrella Necessary?

Short answer: no. Long answer: get a smaller umbrella, asshole.

Common Sense

When all else fails, use common sense. Navigating crowds is difficult. Different people have different needs. Make the best of it. Stay calm. Relax. Be polite. Use your words. You’ll get through it. Do your best to stanch your sidewalk rage.

Acting Weird Gets People Out of Your Way

In summation, have fun with it. Like I do. There’s no better source of entertainment than acting weird to get people out of your way. Here are a few tactics I employ, but, feel free to be creative, there’s an endless amount of fun to be had here.

  1. Moan loudly in a sexual manner.
  2. Pretend you’re sick.
  3. Stretch your arms and say, “OMG! It’s been so long!”
  4. Aggressively scratch yourself.
  5. Repeatedly make farting noises with your mouth.
  6. Dress like a scary clown (bonus if it’s a scary sexy clown).
  7. Do the heroin shuffle. It’s like the Watusi, but sexier.
  8. Say, “Hello,” and “Excuse me.” It’s Seattle, after all, people don’t do well with direct confrontation.

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