Look! Up ahead! Three aloof pedestrians stand around a smartphone in the middle of the sidewalk. But why? Why did they choose to stand right there? Don’t they know the space they selected for their powwow is typically used one-hundred percent of the time for walking? Even a fool knows not to do that. Right?
And so, here we have an unfortunate and all too common breach of sidewalk etiquette. Easily classified as a certified act of thoughtlessness. How dare those fools be foolish! How dare they stand in that spot, so discourteous, so impolite. Something must be done.
What do we do?
How will we get by?
Luckily, qualified help has arrived. A concerned team of firefighters begins erecting ladders and escorting grateful pedestrians up and over the obstruction in a civilized manner. More adventurous folk choose to bypass the aloof consortium of fools by going underground, tunneling furiously with nothing but headlamps and pick axes. A wiry man wearing a gray trenchcoat and crisp blue pants haphazardly sprouts a nifty set of propeller blades out of his funny-looking hat and flies over the whole mess. Fantastic!
But it’s not enough. People flee to the streets. Traffic grinds to a halt. Chaos ensues. Police officers shrug and stand by, powerless to enforce the decency that this sidewalk deserves. What’s the hold up here? Why are those birdbrained blockheads still standing in the middle of the damn sidewalk?
Are they watching a funny video involving cats or domesticated marmots playing hopscotch, which obviously requires immediate viewing? Are they searching the Google machine for directions to the nearest vegan cigar bar? Maybe they’re playing a serious game of jacks. Does anyone know how to play jacks?
The truth is, we don’t know why these absentminded delinquents chose this exact spot to stand around and hold a panel discussion on how to be oblivious to your surroundings. Maybe it’s an art installation. When in doubt, it probably is. But unfortunately, the only thing we know for sure is that the natural flow of pedestrian sidewalk traffic has been obstructed, diverted, and is now under the most serious threat of a full collapse. And that’s not cool.
How Can We Fix This? How Can We Enforce Proper Sidewalk Etiquette?
Can you imagine all the inconsiderate pedestrians, breaching sidewalk etiquette all across the world, in every city and on every sidewalk? People walking on the left side of the sidewalk? Large groups of friends, side-by-side, strutting, strolling, leaving room for no one else? Tiny wandering babies skedaddling and bee-bopping illogically in all directions while the parents play Angry Birds on their smartphones? Young teenage folk, talking to friends about the latest rumors and hearsay, speaking only in oddly high-pitched voices that defy everything we know about how voices should sound like? It’s hell out there.
Amanda and I deliberate; pondering the logistics of what it would take to keep pedestrians moving forward and undeterred by the countless distractions that might cause a group of people to stop sidewalk traffic.
And then it came to us. The solution was clear: pool-noodling. Or rather, the striking of one human by another with a pool noodle. And not by me. By Amanda.
Crazy? Maybe. Illegal? I would say definitely. More importantly, would it be effective? Beyond all doubt.
The theory is simple: If you break the basic rules of the sidewalk, you put yourself at risk for a proper, and thorough walloping with a pool noodle. Stop to check your cellphone in the middle of a crowd? You get pool-noodled. Fancy yourself a whistler? (Nobody likes a whistler, not in public, not anywhere) You, my friend, are getting a serious pool-noodling. Shoelaces undone? Sorry, not sorry. Consider yourself noodled. Next time, find a proper area to tie those laces.
You see, no one is exempt, no one is above the law of pool-noodling. The pool noodle itself does not know age, race, or gender. It knows only justice.
Pool-Noodling — Noun — Definition: An act of controlled violence typically enacted upon people who are bad at walking on sidewalks, in which they are forcefully struck or “whacked” with a pool noodle as a repercussion for their lack of judgment.
Used in a Sentence: When George stopped in the middle of the crowded sidewalk to check an urgent text message from his third cousin on his mother’s side, Charlemagne, he was abruptly pool-noodled on his left ear by a short, feisty woman.
Truth be told, Amanda is just the sort of strong-willed, eagle-eyed citizen this world needs to enforce this new form of punishment. She is the Judge Dredd of the sidewalk world; she never stops, she will find you, and she will have her justice. Fact.
Several Good Reasons Why Amanda is the Most Qualified Candidate for the Job
First, let us review Amanda’s incredible sidewalk navigation skills. She, my fiery wife, is what we in the walking business call a scout. What is a scout, you ask?
Scout — Noun — Definition: A fleet-footed bipedal who whilst walking with friends or large groups of people, or even alone, is only able to move at a brisk pace, and cannot, under any circumstance, slow down to a sauntering speed. Nor is a scout able to reduce their gait velocity so as to walk casually with the intent of relaxation or to perform basic casual conversation with others lacking in briskness. Knowing full-well they are designed for one speed, and one speed only: brisk, a scout instead uses this to the advantage of the pack by walking several yards ahead and “scouting” the way forward for the overall safety and protection of the others.
The skills of a scout come in handy when ferocious wild animals are wandering about (i.e. hippopotami), or other dangerous things such as dastardly villains or pesky seagulls looking for their next french fry. These dangers can then be relayed back to the larger group, and an alternative route chosen. It’s important to note that the main purpose of walking for a scout is not relaxation but to get somewhere, dammit.
Amanda is perhaps the most skilled, most qualified scout I’ve ever seen. Her speed and pace is unrelenting; in another era, she would easily have been a champion power walker. Her elbows are tools, ready to spear and poke when called to battle. Her mind is calm, all while effortlessly ducking and dodging thru the not-so-innocent pedestrians who secretly plot to delay her with vulgar walking gaits and blockades of children.
As a scout, she can quickly and accurately assess the immediate surroundings and people, judge those surroundings and especially the people, and put an efficient, fair plan in place for moving forward. These abilities, bordering on superhuman, make her the best, most qualified candidate to appraise the sidewalk, find any wrongdoing or misbehavior, and begin whacking deserving pedestrians with a pool noodle before they even know what hit them.
You can’t argue with that. In fact, if you do, she might whack you with a pool noodle.
Besides, her skillset is very specialized, very particular, and very much necessary. With a little more practice, she could become the Jason Bourne of pool noodling. Her ability to ambulate the sidewalk, unseen and in full stealth, allowing her to unsuspectingly sneak up on those she seeks to punish. So if you’re up to shenanigans on the sidewalk, you best rethink your game plan — because she’s going to get you. And you will be pool-noodled.
A Few Hypothetical Scenarios Where Amanda Enforces the Sidewalk Using Pool Noodles
When it comes to pedestrian walking faux pas, there are far too many. In fact, it’s quite easy to make a mess of things on the sidewalk on any given day. And with smartphones dominating our lives more and more it’s a wonder there’s any order left in this world. Most, unfortunately, we must all count ourselves among the guilty. As much as we’d like to think we’re all perfect sidewalk pedestrians, it is simply not true.
Let’s review the circumstances when it would be most appropriate for someone to receive a stern pool-noodling. Shall we?
Sidenote: It should go without saying that when you whack someone with a pool noodle, it doesn’t even hurt that much. Right? So no tattletales, please. No need to call the fuzz if you see someone getting pool-noodled. Amanda would never, ever, even under severe distress, bonk a random peep on the top of the head for no good reason. And she would never, ever wallop somebody who didn’t deserve it. Besides, it’s only polyethylene foam for crying out loud!
Four best bros (college-age) are strutting down the sidewalk. These unenlightened bros are walking side-by-side, elbow-to-elbow, laughing and chortling like they own place. Oh dear. Side-by-side? Really? That’s the whole sidewalk bestie-brosephians. What were you thinking?
Required Action: The bestie-bros must be pool-noodled. Simple as that. This poor display of judgment made these ignorant bro-buddies prime candidates for a generous walloping. In response, Amanda comes out of nowhere, like a sneaky wallaby, fast as lightning, armed to the teeth in pool noodles. Whack, whack, whack. Arms are flailing, profanities are applied, and in the end, valuable sidewalk space is recovered. You just got pool noodled, bros! Pretty cool, right? Do you want another one? Keep walking, single file this time. We’ll be watching. Better, Better. I said single file, brosephs!
An innocent-looking mother of two performs a full-stop on the sidewalk after receiving a critical Facebook alert regarding a picture she posted earlier of an adorable litter of goslings spotted at the park that morning. The alert called out to her from her purse like a siren seducing its next victim to the shores of Facebook’s notification system.
Of course, it’s no easy task digging a smartphone out from a bottomless purse. And the children begin to wander in an unsanctioned crisscrossing pattern like little drunken sailors. Five minutes later the woman has found the phone, lost the kids, held up countless pedestrians, and learned that so far three people she knew briefly in middle school are just tickled to pieces by the tiny adorable baby geese. Oh boy.
Required Action: While it’s never an easy decision to apply a swift pool-noodling in front of a mother’s children, it must be done. The hard part actually, is hitting the children with a pool-noodle. Obviously, much less force is applied, and they don’t really understand what they’ve done wrong, but rules are rules. Amanda pool noodles the whole gang (using a special pirate sword noodle) until the mother willingly returns her distraction device back to the bottomless purse, wrangles those little hooligans she calls her children and returns safely to the regular flow of sidewalk traffic. Well done everyone, well done.
A man is walking ahead of you on the sidewalk, but you’re gaining on him. His pace is a smidgen slower than yours, and it’s clear you’re meant to pass. However, to do so, you must also increase gait velocity just enough to overtake him in a legal left side maneuver. Now here comes the tricky part. As you speed up to elapse the man, he, in what must be a very clear act of defiance, increases his speed, putting you in the awkward spot of running into oncoming foot traffic. This is a bullshit move. You know it. He knows it.
Required Action: Unfortunately for this man, he doesn’t yet know of the new street justice we call pool-noodling. Amanda, who has been training night and day in an abandoned warehouse where she has set-up a Ninja Warrior-like obstacle course, is an experienced and elite pool-noodler. In this scenario, she sits perched on a delicate limb of an old pin oak, watching over her city like a true protector of civil obedience.
Amanda leaps from several feet in the air and lands in front of the man in what can only be described as a perfect somersault. Springing to her feet like an uncaged wombat ready for action, she spins right while simultaneously unsheathing her pool noodle, striking down the man in a single blow with the fury of a truly impassioned warrior. She then repels back to her perch in the tree using her trusty grappling hook. And so the world returns to the very normal, very safe place we all want it to be, if only for a few moments.
A youngish couple rolls up to the crosswalk on a busy street. The waiting area is already packed with several pedestrians waiting politely and patiently for the walk sign to display. Somewhere, in the managerial sections of their central nervous systems, certain neurons are firing off some very dumb ideas.
The youngish couple begins to question what all these people are waiting around for. Why not just cross now? So what if there’s traffic. We’re much smarter and more capable of crossing roads while cars are driving in both directions than any of these nitwits.
Besides, our time is precious, and we have very important things to do. So you see, we just can’t wait for the walk sign. We’re not like all of you. We are special. We will cross the road right now!
Required Action: Amanda can barely believe her own eyes. Holy baloney! Wait for the walk sign; it’s not that hard. Don’t you see the cars coming? The couple backs up a bit toward the sidewalk as if they’re just realizing they can’t cross the road yet. But they’re not done, not by a longshot. They try again! Can you even believe it? And again!
Amanda strikes with a double pool noodle to both faces. If the pedestrians could cross, they would be crossing. Do you think you have special street crossing powers? That the rules don’t apply to you? That you’re being inconvenienced by all these automobiles that are driving on the road properly and according to the law? On second thought, triple noodle whacks for both of you. Have a nice day.
Whatever Happened to the Aloof Pedestrians Who Started All This?
I think you probably get the idea by now. And yes, there is a long list of scenarios we did not cover above. But for now, let’s get this show on the road and return to the group of silly muddle-headed nincompoops who inspired this conversation — the aloof pedestrians.
Amanda spots them from no less than thirty yards out, huddled in the middle of the sidewalk around a smartphone looking at God knows what. There are no firefighters, no tunnelers with pick ax and headlamps, no help. That in fact, never actually happened, I made it up. There is only Amanda.
And like the cunning fox she is, her strong arm moves to the holstered pool noodles (yes she is carrying two), ready to strike. In a flash, she unsheathes both and swings for the back of the knees of the first two pedestrians. Spinning to her left, she finishes them off with a double-tap to the back of their heads. The last remaining pedestrian has no time to react. She sneers at him; he will remember that look forever. The two pool noodles collide simultaneously on both sides of his face, and he goes down hard.
And that’s that. The aloof pedestrians have been dealt with. Amanda sheathes her pool noodles and continues along the sidewalk conversing about what we’re going to have for dinner that night as if it’s no big deal. Well played, sweetheart, well played indeed.
As we finish our walk I make an effort to keep up with her, although it’s hard, she is so fleet-footed, so swift. And then, the world stops. A slow motion scene begins with all the regular accoutrements, and I switch roles from husband to foe in what can only be described as a mere second in time.
You see, earlier that day I posted a video to Instagram of a squirrel eating a chicken wing on top of our parking lot dumpster. It was hilarious. And now, a pesky fleet of neurons, firing up somewhere in my brain, really, really wants to me to see how many views it received.
Before I know what’s happening, my feet stop moving. I’m still. My hand reaches toward my pocket, and I’m opening up my Instagram. Dopamine rushes toward every available area of my body. My toes tingle a bit. My hip bones remain connected to my thigh bones.
I’m so proud of myself!
And then ...
Sorry honey! Says the look in Amanda’s eyes. I love you a ton, but it’s time to brace for impact because you’re getting a pool noodle to the face. Keep walking and next time just wait for a proper area to check out your Instagram video. Sincerely, your loving wife.
I see only a bright blue pool noodle right before the moment of impact. It connects perfectly, and my body crumbles to the ground. I have been pool-noodled. No one, not even husbands are exempt when justice is sought for the betterment of the species as a whole, for the enforcement of proper sidewalk etiquette. I get up, put my phone back in my pocket where it belongs, and take Amanda’s hand. And on we go.