Jun 5, 2006

On Slow Walkers

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(Toledo, OH) Over the past few years I have noticed a rise in the number of people who walk with a pace that can only be called "tortoise-like."

I am not referring to the elderly, or people who have some physical condition that inhibits their ability to walk at the pace of normal pedestrian traffic.

The slow walkers to which I refer are usually young people - generally, but not exclusively, young men - in the prime of their lives. One of my knowledgeable children described it to me as the "ghetto walk." This is a form of walking that is at such a slow pace that it seems deliberately insolent.

The phenomenon crosses racial boundaries, although I suggest that it is class-based in nature. Adherents of the slow walk generally wear the outrageously baggy shorts, expensive athletic shoes, and other accoutrements associated with hiphop culture.

I have a theory on slow walkers: practitioners of the slow walk come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and the slow pace is an effort to exert control over some facet of their lives and perhaps defy social norms.

"Maybe I am stuck in poverty," goes the thinking, "but I CAN define the pace at which I walk, and no one can make me go faster."

A parallel might be work slowdowns, in which labor unions work to the rule or act in such a fashion as to reduce production to accomplish a goal. There is also a similar phenomenon in the history of slavery, where "slave time" was a deliberately slow work pace that acted as a means of resistance against an oppressive social structure of involuntary servitude.

Then again, maybe I should just zip around them if I am in such a hurry. Perhaps the problem lies with me and my too-busy life.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

AGGGGGHHH!!! They drive me nuts!

Do said...

I perceive it to be more of a 'screw you, I own the street' kind of walk. The kind that DEFIES the driver to even get near them.

I have been waiting for 'slow walkers' to cross a street and have had them turn toward my car and flip me off - for NO reason. At that point all I can do is shake my head. That gets me flipped off again! And what about the ones that get a third the way across and stop to answer their flipping cell phone or light a cigarette!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

**My confession - at times I have wanted to let my foot slide off the brake pedal, but fear the consequences. If it weren't for the stark accommodations of the jail...

These 'slow walkers' are pretty rude.

Kate said...

I usually walk along quickly, but lately have had some sinus troubles and I noticed that I'm dawdling along. My folks are walking very slowly - but that's because my Mom fell a year ago in April and had a serious brain injury.

Pass on the left :-) Be thankful if you're able to clip along. I do understand the foot brake thing though. My pet peeve is why is in Toledo that so many people stop for green lights and then run a red one? It's unbelievable.

I want to put one of those semi horns under the hood of my car and scare the s$#t out of them.

But why do they do that?

McCaskey said...

Hey HM: just curious, what town was the photo taken in?

historymike said...

Not sure, McCaskey. I pulled it from Google Images because I was stuck in Columbus, away from my cache of photos.

historymike said...

Interesting; as I look through the comments, the focus was on drivers versus pedestrians.

I was originally thinking about slow pedestrians in the way of faster pedestrians, but the analogy applies equally well in the way that you folks described.

McCaskey said...

OK, looks like a college-type small town setting.,...great for walking...love to walk downtown Ann Arbor, when it's not TOO crowded...

-Sepp said...

Old people are one thing and I will always wait to let them cross. Wannabee ghetto trash that stray into the street as if they know you don't have the stones to hit them or, slowly move thru a crosswalk while the light turns green and a defiant smirk at you knowing that you probably have insurance (south and broadway are prime venues for this) make me want to just punch the gas and thump them along at the speed the rest of the working world moves at.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Ahh yes, the defiance of slow walking.

You know, maybe if we had an open season on defiant walking/walkers, with the license proceeds going to a suitable charity, it might be sufficient to adjust the “mosey in defiance” attitude of most of the protesters; after the first dozen or so trophies, are taken and mounted, that is ;-)

Back in the sixties, a once happened across a small group of such defiant youths. I was driving my beetle, so I probably wasn’t that menacing looking and they were in a definitely defiant mood, until I let a vacant look pass over my face, my eyes glazed over, and I put on a particularly EVIL grin and edged close to the curb.

They decided to abandon their effort to mosey, in favor of a fast sprint, just this one time. Most of them escaped unscathed, except for one. I peeled the tennis shoe/sneaker off of his heel.

He had to stop and pull his shoe back on before going home for some clean shorts ;-)

I’ll NEVER forget the look on that kid’s face…