Perilous being a Pedestrian

Have you seen that advert when the woman is using a Microsoft computer which allows her to draw on it etc. I really like the advert, not because it’s Microsoft – heaven forbid!, but because of the title she gives herself. I sit in a lot of meetings when it comes to that moment when we all have to introduce ourselves and we go round the table. People have so many wonderful and impressive titles and jobs and when it comes to me I just say my name and suffer the resulting silence when people await further mentions of esteem only to be disappointed. When the woman in the Mircosoft advert introduces herself she says, author, travel writer and blogger – what a great job title! – I want it so bad! Anyway, this week’s waffle is all about being a pedestrian, not a blogger, author or travel writer, and how perilous it is becoming!

I was worried that I was going to have to delay this blog post due to the change in the weather. Why? you ask (please participate). Well at the beginning of the week it was wet and rainy (perfect weather for me) and the idea of the blog came to me while I was walking to work in the rain but as the week progressed the weather changed once again to be hot and sunny. However, this morning the rain has started again (hooray!) so it almost seems, yet again, appropriate. Before you read/listen to the rest of this waffle, I would like to just state clearly at the start that I am being quite generic in my discussion and waffle. I know I am probably going to be making sweeping generalisations here but please be assured that I know this and before you quickly attack the comment box below with shade casting or harsh words I just wanted you to know that I realise that there are some lovely drivers out there and I am probably talking about just a few…well…inconsiderate ones. So, with the rain cascading down and me huddled underneath my brand new umbrella I would like to tell you why I think it is so perilous for a pedestrian walking to work in the rain!

  • Umbrellas – Before writing this waffle I was going to carry out some mathematical calculations although completing this might have meant trawling through the internet looking for the specifications of umbrellas and pavements. I have this feeling that someone should have completed this calculations before me because I am wondering whether pavements are getting smaller or umbrellas are getting bigger. As I am walking through the rain and I come across a person approaching from the other direction, there is a moment of panic. Just like looking at a gap and thinking ‘Can I drive my car through there?’ I look at the available amount of space and wonder can we actually pass with our umbrellas up. Some people have already started to carry these HUGE golfing umbrellas which appear to be covering not only themselves and their bag and their dog, but also several small children who are walking near by, the passing old lady with her shopping trolley and the local scavenging pigeon! If I see one of this HUGE umbrellas heading for a collision course, then I know there is no hope and have to perform the collapse action, putting the umbrella down and just sharing the shelter of the passing ginormous umbrella with the pigeon etc, before putting my own umbrella back up. However, it becomes more of an ‘umbrella dance’ when two normal size ones approach. Do you the perform the down and up action, when someone attempts to lift their umbrella over yours while you crouch and try to go under or, the more advance, tilt and return action when you both tilt your umbrellas to one side while you pass and then quickly return the to the upright position. I tend to go for the latter approach for passing umbrellas although I do suddenly get wet since nothing is actually covering me for a moment and the water which has congregated on my own umbrella runs off, maybe covering that unlucky pigeon. You also have to demonstrate some mastery with this action in order to avoid poking anyone else in their head, arm or any other part of their body!
  • Over hangs – We are always being told not to look at our phones when walking. Yes we do appear to spend a lot of out time looking down rather than up and about. If it is raining and windy then we are trying to control our umbrellas while adjusting them quickly in order to shield ourselves from the driving rain and buffeting wind. If you fail in this skill check you can instantly find yourself with an inside out umbrella or, even worse, a quick impression of practically perfect Mary Poppins as you sail off into the sky! Walking with head and umbrella down is a good tactic to try and avoid the Mary Poppins look, but this means that you don’t really see anything approaching. And this actually brings me to the second perilous obstacle that we need to avoid. No, not approaching people. Over hanging trees! I’m not sure who are responsible for these trees and/or bushes, but as I walk there are areas when the trees/bushes have ground out over the fences/boundaries and are intruding onto the pavement. Not only are they intruding they are intruding at a very low level. More particularly right at umbrella level! So, as I am walking along tackling the wind and rain in a constant battle – whoosh! My umbrella gets knocked backwards by a low hanging branch and, as the branch pings back from the umbrella it releases the rain it has been collecting in preparation for my approach all over me!

  • Road Puddles – As I approach close to work the amount of traffic gets more and more and, and I’m sure this is not an optical illusion, the pavements get narrower and narrower. Now the pavements are not always in the best condition and there are often large areas of puddles on them which you either need to try and negotiate by trying and to make that dexterous jump, hoping and praying that you will not slip or misjudge the landing and actually end up in the puddle or try to walk around them, which usually means increasing your walk to work by at least fifteen minutes. But there are some puddles which makes life for the pedestrian even more perilous. The ones on the edge of the roads! If you are lucky, or know your route well, you know, as a pedestrian, where these perilous places are and can be prepared. But one moments lapse in concentration or walking along an unfamiliar piece of pavement and you are doomed. You have managed to avoid the over hanging trees and completed the dance of the umbrellas as you passed people only to be soaked from the waist down by the passing car which drives through the puddle by the side of the road at speed. I realise that sometimes it is not possible to avoid these puddles, but slowing down would be preferable rather than, as I have seen some drivers do, accelerating towards them and seeing what percentage of the pedestrian they can soak as they continue their own personal journey to work. I have just bought a brand new umbrella and was intrigued by the name on the label which accompanied it. It bold letters it was labelled – ‘SHIELD’ and I am currently perfecting the drop down and crouch maneuver in order to protect myself from the dousing that can occur from these puddles.

  • So that’s it. Why I think it is so perilous for a pedestrian walking to work in the rain. I could actually write a completely different waffle focusing on other perils which plague pedestrians but this will have to wait for another day and another cup of coffee. If you have any other perils which you think pedestrians have to content with on a rainy day then please let me know in the comments below. If you have enjoyed this blog post then please do bookmark me and come back. I do write these waffles often on a range of subjects.

    Until then I would just like to say have fun and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled!

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