Saturday, May 06, 2006

Walking for Beginners

Is there some kind of mall time warp that I don't know about? Because it seems to me that people walk slower in malls. It also seems like if you go into a mall, your IQ drops precipitously in inverse proportion to your age. Here, for the beginner, are some remedial instructions on walking at the mall.

If there are two or more people in your party, you should arrange yourselves in such a way that others who don't want to walk at the incredibly slow and stupid pace you set can get around you. Do not link arms and walk in a big line, trapping people behind you (unless you're actually staging a protest). Two people can walk abreast. Three if they're skinny and gossiping close together. Any more than that, and you need to move in a compact clump, or I won't be responsible for your welfare.

If you are walking with someone and you know him or her, there is absolutely no need for you to take more than eighteen inches of personal space between you when you're walking. When the government gave that whole "three feet apart" guideline, they meant at work during a flu pandemic, not at the mall with someone you brought with you. Eighteen inches is the max. Twelve would be better. You came here to spend time together. Get to it. Alternatively, walk far enough apart that people may, without social or physical discomfort, pass between you.

If you need to stop, for God's sake, pull over. Do not execute an emergency stop in a space where others are walking. Ever. Not even if the emergency is a really cute shirt.

If you must perform some other activity while walking, such as eating, talking on a cell phone, or chewing gum, you are obligated to arm everyone else in the area with a regulation, executive-retreat caliber paint gun, so that we can take you down if you get in the way. If you're a vegetarian, you can arm us all with tranquilizer darts instead.

If you are so stupid that walking into a mall drops your IQ below zero, you should wear identification, visible from at least 5 yards away. Acceptable stupidity identification might be a really large pointy hat, or a sign that says "I'm with stupid" but points to yourself. Or one of those purses that's entirely covered in reflective gold sequins the size of a quarter. (These are especially recommended for night stupidity.)

Random zig-zaggy movements are not appreciated. Unless you're trying to elude sniper fire (perhaps because someone got tired of you text messaging while walking), zig-zagging is just forbidden.

If there's a girl fight, you should tell me. Because those look like a way better spectator sport than tennis, and I'd like to check it out.

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