different speeds for different needs

Just when you thought it was safe to go out on the street.

Apparently people are studying a devastating new disease known as Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome. Or sidewalk rage. Left untreated it can lead to Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

Apparently fast walkers can get impatient with slow walkers, bumping into them or cutting in front of them, while muttering under their breath, thinking hostile thoughts and making faces.

And I just thought they were rude people with short tempers.

The average walker in lower Manhattan walks 4.27 feet per second. But people going to work are averaging 4.4 feet per second while tourists are clocking in at 3.8 feet per second. Women walk slower than men, unless they are carrying bags, in which case they speed up. All these different speeds are being calculated and studied. There is, after all, a Ph.D. project in there somewhere.

Old people walk the slowest of all, by the way. 3.63 feet per second. And there are more of us coming.

You can find it all in the Wall Street Journal, in an article entitled “Get out of my way, you jerk!” What you can’t find is the cure. Or maybe the cause. Apparently it takes a psychologist to suggest that we calm down. Or to explain that we learn these behaviors from our family and friends.

Acting like this is perfectly natural. And completely unacceptable. But you don’t have to go to a therapist to figure this out. And you don’t have to blame your parents, either.

Here are my observations, for free:

  • If you have pedestrian aggressiveness syndrome, you probably have a host of other, bigger problems. Start there.
  • You don’t learn to be self-centered. That’s natural. You learn to not be. That’s work.
  • Don’t think of being rude as a syndrome. Think of it as a sin. (Your pastor can help you more than your psychologist. If they can’t, get a new one.)
  • Everything, and everyone, moves at a different speed. Make adjustments.
  • Real change comes from the inside out. Deal with the root causes, not the superficial effects.

And stay out of my way, for crying out loud.

I’ve got issues.


About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

12 Responses to “different speeds for different needs”

  1. Left me smiling 🙂
    It was only a matter of time before the “experts” went from studying road rage to sidewalk rage. Next up will be a study on aggressive cart drivers in grocery stores.

  2. “Learn to not be”…aggressive. Right on!

  3. Loved this! You nailed it. . . After the Ph.D. project, the follow up will be a government study–complete with congressional hearings. Stands to reason!

  4. Love the free observations, I agree completely!

  5. I can’t stop laughing – I’ve just discovered I’ve got P.A.S. who knew !
    I just used to call it impatience, but now it has a fancy name .

  6. I kind of feel sad. Read this post I found:

  7. This is a great post. It is easy to dislike those who are lollygagging while walking or shopping, if we think we are in a big screaming hurry. I am one of the worst.

  8. There is a Facebook page called, “I secretly want to punch slow walking people in the back of the head.” It has 16575 poeople who like it. Pedestrian rage was also an answer on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me today.

  9. Ha, love it! I’m probably the exact opposite. Walk slow and stay out of people’s way at all costs. I’ve encountered many P.A.S people in my days of walking as a door mat.

  10. Wow. We do have issues, don’t we?! Personally, I try to cut everyone some slack, because I know that somedays I may be the one in a huge ol’ hurry, but other days I’m the one window shopping who keeps annoying those behind me as the shiny things catch my attention….
    Hilarious post… again!

  11. Oh my, and here I was thinking that slow walking actually had deeper character roots of healthy awareness and enjoyment of the moment and the surroundings…. who knew? I’ll be taking my flak jacket and pith helmet on city sidewalk tours. I’d be laughing if there wasn’t some deep sorrow and loss reflected in our lightning speed culture…. and a fancy name for an age-old syndrome: aka impatience.

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