Heading off to college in the city after being raised in the sticks? Just can’t understand why everyone is so mean to you in the city? Or maybe you’re just one of those folks in a constant state of oblivion who wishes everyone would just chill out and let you do your thing. This list’s for you.
10. Walking on the left side of the walkway. Come ON! How are you not figuring this out? Seriously. Maybe you’re not used to walking around in public, or maybe you’re from a far-away land where what you’re doing is the norm, but you’re here now and we have a system because we need to make room for other people. Believe it or not, not everyone is going the same direction or pace you are. For the love of God, walk on the right side.
9. Trivializing your trash. What are you, defective? This is a community—a place that people share to live, work, and play together. It works because of respect. You know, like NOT making people walk through your garbage.
8. Riding your bike the wrong way down a designated bike path or driving your car in the bike lane. Wow, you are a piece of work. A concerted municipal planning effort and a multi-million-dollar infrastructure to accommodate a growing trend in bicycle ridership, and you manage to single-handedly screw it all up. Nice going jerk.
7. Operating any kind of vehicle while using a cell phone or headphones. Despite all the media attention showing how dangerous and negligent it is to drive while on a cell phone, you still think somehow you’re an exception. Well, you’re not. But however infuriating it is to see someone texting while driving, it still doesn’t beat the astounding idiocy of using a mobile device while on a bike. Cyclists have to have their wits about them, listening for approaching traffic behind them and at intersections—you know, generally being aware of any speeding, 2,000 pound vehicles that might be about to end their lives. I suspect that you think you really are aware of your surrounding, which is ridiculous. The only reason you’re alive is because most of the people around you are watching out for knuckleheads like you. You do not have some special talent that allows you to ride and talk on a cell phone at the same time. Behind you is a trail of people in awe of your utter stupidity, and they have taken great measures to avoid killing or maiming you. You’re not talented. You’re oblivious.
6. Ignoring crosswalks. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Maybe this is a confusing concept for you, I don’t really know. But a crosswalk is sort of like a temporary sidewalk on the street. It’s meant to keep clear so that people can walk across the street. When you drive through a crosswalk when someone’s trying to cross, or you stop on a crosswalk while waiting to clear an intersection, this is a problem. You’ve got countless miles of roadway behind you where you can stop. Why the hell would you stop on the one place that’s explicitly NOT meant for you. You are impeding progress and ruining a pretty descent AND SIMPLE system.
5. Not acknowledging courtesy or niceties. Whether it’s someone letting you into a busy lane of traffic, someone holding the door open for you, or just a friendly nod as you pass by, respond in kind. What’s the matter with you? How do you even do this? How is anyone capable of being so aloof as to not give someone a smile of thanks as she holds the door, or give The Wave when someone lets you in from the entrance ramp? Maybe you’re just so unaccustomed to being in public that you’re horrified when a stranger interacts with you. Whatever. Get over it.
4. Stopping for a chat in the middle of a thoroughfare. Really? Are you under the impression that you are in some sort of theatrical production in which background players should be expected to work around your actions. You and your friends chatting in the middle of the sidewalk are in the way of a whole bunch of other people who are trying to go somewhere, get things done, and generally lead their lives. Just do us all a favor and get out of the way.
3. Parking like you have a special circumstance. There are so many ways that you can reveal what an ass you are just by the way you park that this almost deserves it’s own list, but I’ll try to wrap it up here: taking up more than one parking space, illegally parking in an ADA spot, parking across a driveway, parking too close to another vehicle, parking in a bike lane, or parking on a sidewalk. The first few listed there should be pretty obviously offensive to most people, but that last one, parking on sidewalks, bafflingly escapes many people, so here-goes: You know when a driveway crosses over a sidewalk? You know how the word “sidewalk” has the word “walk” in it? For the love of all that is good and decent, you can’t just park your car across the sidewalk! That’s where people walk, where the elderly stroll with walkers, where parents push their strollers, where people push their wheelchairs, etc., etc., etc. How do you not know this? If you have to park your car further away because there aren’t any parking spots nearby, just tough it out. Then you can walk on the goddamn sidewalk to get to your destination.
2. Not paying attention as you step into cross-traffic. I’m not sure what happened here. “Look both ways before you cross” used to be a mantra not too many years ago. In fact, it was so engrained in what we did that when teachers and parents would remind us of it, we would say totally hilarious things like, “No shit, Sherlock.” But I guess people being raised places where they don’t really walk or are so self-absorbed that they’ve lost what used to be the natural inclination to look before you step out from a shop into a busy sidewalk or onto a street where there are cars that can very easily kill you. For crying out loud look both ways before you cross.
1. Not signaling your turns (cars AND BIKES). This list wasn’t in any particular order of egregiousness until now. Not signaling your turns was intentionally saved for the number one spot because it is so infuriating. The reason that it’s so infuriating isn’t so much because of any single act of not signaling, but because of the aggregate insanity of it all and what it implies about who we are as a society. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? For the record, other than you, there is a whole world of people out there leading our own lives. You see, other people have places to go and—AGAIN—we are sharing space that requires at least a modicum of coordination with one another. And in order to coordinate, we need to communicate. A system exquisite in its simplicity was developed for just this purpose and it takes virtually no effort whatsoever in order to make it work. And yet… And yet… You—you navel-gazing ignoramus—drift through this shared environment as if you were the only person who really mattered. As if all those other people just needed to wait until you passed through before they could proceed. That the bicycles forced to ride to your right in the gutter lane should just intuit that you’re going to turn right, and if they can’t read your mind, well, you will just have to hit them with your car so you can make your turn. I know what you’re thinking: But sometimes when I’m on the Interstate I can’t signal because no one will let me in. To which I say this: Bullshit. The cure to asshole behavior is not to be a bigger asshole. If we do that, we’re no better than Congress. Like many of the other items listed above, the only reason you haven’t seriously injured or killed someone (if you haven’t already) is because other people around you have been smarter than you are dumb. But that luck is only going to hold out for so long. So, to all the assholes out there who don’t signal your turns, congratulations, you are the worst.
Bonus Bonehead Moves:
1. Bicycling at night without a headlight
2. Cutting off traffic to make the exit ramp (or any turn)
3. Not using the left lane of traffic for passing
4. Not using the turning lane to turn left
[Note: public transportation was deliberately left off this list, as it warrants a whole list of its own.]