It’s 8:45 a.m. and I have exactly 15 minutes to walk from my house to class. The sun is shining, birds are chirping and the sweet smell of autumn fills the air. The day is crisp and clear and I am in full stride now, walking briskly and happily to an exam I haven’t studied for.
In the near distance I see it: a student lagging directly ahead of me, feet dragging along the pavement like dead carcasses. His pants sag as he listens to music through one ear-bud, yawning lazily as if the very world itself were running on his schedule. Zombie? No: a slow walker.
Suddenly, the vein in my forehead begins to throb. My hands shake but my legs refuse to stop moving. I’m getting anxious, knowing that soon an important decision will have to be made: do I start walking slower, or do I attempt to pass this vile specimen that seems so content on ruining my day?
I weigh my options, knowing that if I walk as slow as the student in front of me I’ll have admitted defeat.
I ball my hands into fists and take a deep breath and begin to pick up my pace, going in for the pass. Brows furrowed in deep concentration, I get closer and closer, my stride picking up. I’ve almost caught up with the culprit when suddenly, like a Pterodactyl swooping down to collect its prey, the slow walker in front of me shifts directions, drifting back and forth along the sidewalk as if marking his territory in some sick, ritualistic way. I side-step to the left but he’s already there! I spin back to the right but he clumsily changes sides again, forcing me into the grass.
My heart pounds as I wrestle for control over the sidewalk, moving as quickly as possible in the grass to pass him. Unfortunately, my feet are sinking in fresh mud, crippling my once lightning-fast stride into an embarrassing display of heavy, mud-ridden steps. Our paces are now even, and I can see the young man staring at me with fierce eyes, as if to shout like Gandalf himself: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
It’s in that moment, as I hang my head in shame and scrape the mud off my feet, that I wonder how I could have better handled that situation.
Slow walkers are a common plague on campus, seriously hindering those who are simply trying to get from point A to point B without the hassle of strategically maneuvering around half-stoned students with no sense of urgency. It is for those suffering students, then, that I offer tips on besting our slow-walking counterparts:
The deep conversationalists:
Nothing is worse than accidentally eavesdropping on a conversation between students walking in a slow, horizontal line across the entire width of the sidewalk. Conversations between three or four people can range from that T.A. who “I’d totally love to see naked, brah!” to how difficult that Shakespeare for non-majors exam was, to how totally wasted someone was at Chad’s birthday, to deep, philosophical questions like: “Why was Becky being such a bitch last night?”
As a senior, I’ve heard all of these conversations before. They aren’t new or interesting or unique, but how these students revel in their meaningless talk anyway, crawling along the sidewalk like sunbaked slugs.
The best way to handle these situations, I’ve found, is to insert your own opinion in a way that catches them off guard long enough for you to easily pass. Why was Becky being such a bitch, you will have to ponder to yourself. A succinct answer may be: “Well, I heard she slept with Charlie and he totally ditched her for Lucy even though Lucy isn’t even into him.” By the time those ahead of you are able to react with a cocked head and perplexed gaze, you’ll already be streets ahead of them.
That disgustingly adorable couple:
We’ve all seen them, that couple that walks in a slow daze of puppy-love romance, whispering sweet-nothings in each other’s ears while holding hands so tightly and far apart it seems they are trying to symbolically show that their love is unbreakable.
Perhaps, but not for the 1997 Roxborough Elementary School Red Rover Champion. Annihilate their unbreakable bond of sweaty hand holding with a fast sprint and hands up in the air as if you’ve just won a triathlon. With any luck, you’ll have sprained their wrists in the process.
Those beautiful Greek kids who are way out of your league anyway:
Muscular fraternity brothers and pretty sorority sisters will gossip all day, never failing to make you miss the light change because you couldn’t pass them in time.
In this situation, the perfect motivational tool to get them to move to the side are a nice pair of Panasonic headphones and Slayer’s Reign in Blood blasting at full volume. Nothing says “Excuse me sir/madam, kindly let me pass” like a little thrash metal to subtly get their attention.
The cigarette smoker:
The mentality of a smoker while walking is relatively simple: as long as I have cigarettes, who cares how long the walk takes.
This can be an especially dangerous game, and not just because of the cloud of smoke billowing away from them and towards your precious lungs, but because they often have very little motivation and physical strength to keep up at a decent pace.
The real danger, however, lies in a smoker without a cigarette. With no nicotine buzz, a slow walk can quickly turn into a long, exhausting pilgrimage to the nearest gas station. You’ll notice a smoker by how often he or she hacks up half a lung before spitting out a delicious variety of mucus, tobacco and tar. If you notice a smoker without a cigarette, politely offer to give them one. When they reach for the cigarette, throw it as far behind you as possible and watch them tackle the ground to get to it. Just like that, you’ve made a successful pass and taken the lead!
And if all else fails…
A simple shoulder-check can often do the trick when trying to pass a slow walker. It doesn’t have to be as aggressive as, say, a punch to the back of the head, but just hard enough to let them know they should pick up the pace. Some people have places to be.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Sebastian Murdock at Sebastian.firstname.lastname@example.org.