You’ll never guess who I bumped into. Well, you might as you could well have bumped into them as well.
I walk quite fast. People will tell me this in, it seems, the expectation that I haven’t noticed. I used to be told I was tall. Well thanks for the info. I know I am all but 6’3″. I am also aware that I walk fast, mainly by the fact that I pass most people when I’m out walking.
I think the reason is that I have had dogs for most of my life and am the person who walked them in the main. Most dogs have a natural pace about half as fast again as the average bloke. As anyone who owns dogs will tell you, you tend to do things their way after a while.
I’ve had a delightful Schnauzer, then a Giant Schauzer, Old English Sheepdog, a Bouvier de Flandres and then another, my last dog so far. She died, or rather we got someone to kill her, early 2015 yet I still expect her to be at the door when I open it.
Having such big dogs with long strides has meant that I could either get them to walk to heel at my pace, and have a sulky animal by my side, or speed up a bit and have their ears pricked. I unconsciously chose the latter option.
Speed was not a problem at first. People saw me coming early – I’m not only tall but a bit plump, also proportionately. I’m a big chap. But something has changed over the last couple of years. People seem not to notice me.
They say that old people become transparent and it seems that ‘they’ are right.
Mind you, those old people in mobility scooters are noticed. Younger people complain about them, even to me. I think they are a great idea. Some of these people would have been isolated without them, their lives restricted to visitors and TV. Now they get out and about. They also keep town centres clear.
If a mobility scooter comes at you at speed you tend to get out of their way. Fair enough, people standing around will gradually expand the group until it all but blocks the pathway, but with any luck another scooter will be along to get them back to being unselfish.
I was walking through the town centre shopping area but at a reduced pace due to the fact that I had to change direction so often and there were few, if any, mobility scooters. There are normally groups of people chatting, reducing the width to sometimes just enough for just one person.
My wife has refused to walk with me if I continue with my method of showing my irritation at this. I used to walk through the groups. I’d be polite and say excuse me, albeit in a sharp tone. Some of them have the cheek to tut as if it is me being selfish. So I’m reduced to walking around such groups. Which is what I was trying to do.
I know there are no rules or regulations to such problems but I think that if you are first to the gap, you have priority. Not difficult. I give way to women with children and children. But everyone else has to obey my right of way demands. And most do without any resentment. I will thank them if they’ve had to stop or even slow their pace for me and I normally get a smile in return.
So on this day with a scarcity of electric snow ploughs there was a group that had become elongated. It was by the Greggs coned-off area, so the way was already reduced. No one was coming so I speeded up to limit the time I spent in the narrowed area and then, when I emerged at the other end someone came from my left, up until then obscured by the group. I stopped and so did she. I was about to walk on with a casual acknowledgement when I noticed a woman of about 30 walking towards me at normal pace. I had nowhere to go so remained stationary.
She was fiddling with her phone, texting or updating her status on Facebook – off in a dream – and not looking where she was going. I know this because she walked right into me.
I was still. She was moving. I could see what was in front of me, she could not. I looked at her quizzically, she glared at me. She didn’t say a word, I said: “I could have been a wall or a cliff.” A little bit of a wish there I suppose. She shook her head and pushed past me.