If you’re texting or reading from your phone while you walk, it’s on you.
You bump into someone? It’s on you.
A turning car almost hits you? It’s on you.
I’ve thought about this. I’ve planned accidents in my head with approaching people who are looking down at their phones. If that chick doesn’t swerve around me, it’s on her. If her coffee spills on her, she pays the cleaning bill. If it spills on me, she pays the cleaning bill. I owe nothing because I’m not the one on my phone.
It’s not up to me to move. I get to walk in my straight path. That’s the privilege of the non-texting person. It’s a reward we earn by resisting the urge to grab the phone.
√ Walk and text on a deserted street, looking up occasionally to see if it’s still deserted, and (optional) looking down frequently for dog doo.
√ Pull over and text next to a wall.
You may not:
∅ Text on a staircase with someone behind you. Are you kidding me?
∅ Walk and text on a crowded street, leaving it up to others to bob and weave around you, and looking up every block or so with a face that says, “Thank you for the extra effort. I’d look where I’m going, but this is a work email.”
∅ Walk with me in the cold, which is when I’m desperate to reach the heated destination, and slow down to text, saying “Sorry, it’s work.” Again, WE DON’T CARE THAT IT’S WORK. (Though yes, dear husband, I do respect your work. But less so outside in winter.)
The rule should just be no walking and texting, but it can’t be.
It can’t be, because we’re animals who’ve been made addicted by some mad scientist (I won’t say Steve Jobs because RIP and I won’t say Apple because I own some stock, but it’s someone in there. And it could be a lot worse, because these people have the knowledge not just to get us dependent on their technology, but to sew us all mouth-to-anus in the form of a human centipede, a concept I’ve been obsessed with since I saw the trailer).
So now, we addicted, primitive mud creatures need our pellets. We can only go so long without a pellet.
In that vein, I’m not above people who walk and text, because that’s usually me. I am a crack monkey, too. But in that moment when you’re walking and texting and I’m just walking, I AM SUPERIOR. I am homo sapiens, or at least homo erectus, and you are homo hunchback. I have the right of way. I earned it.
If I’m the one walking and texting, shame on me.
The other day, I was doing just that on University Place, and I didn’t see the bum till he was in my face. Why do I call him a bum? Because “homeless” is presumptuous — I don’t know where this guy sleeps, maybe a Highline luxury condo and he just dresses and smells like that — and because of what he did next. As I tried to do the last-second swerve, he stuck out his foot to trip me. Hard. Like we were in the 6th grade cafeteria, but a cafeteria of hate. Today’s specials: fish sticks, turkey tetrazzini, and hot, spitting, vitriol.
It left me with that adrenaline tingle of “I almost just died” and, rightly, shame. That was on me.
Let’s discuss walking and texting (which includes the subset of walking and reading.) What do YOU think the rules should be?
If you like, invent punishments as well.