Street Walkers

Dublin, to be sure, is a walking city and I love that about it. It is one of those cities that would breed the world’s finest gold medalists of walking were it an official Olympic sport. Requirements for such a sport would include crossing a roadway of oncoming traffic. The goal, of course, would be to get to the finish line first, meaning the act of jaywalking would provide the necessary build up for the competition – jaywalk successfully and win a gold medal, but get stopped and ticketed or, worse yet, hit by a car and watch the medal slip through your fingers.

Again, I maintain that if such an Olympic sport existed, Dublin would produce some of the world’s finest gold medalists. I can say this with certainty because it is not often I find myself getting lapped on the sidewalk, especially by individuals who are not as tall (I’m 5’10”) and have shorter legs. And I’m the kind of person who has a destination in mind so you’d better get out of my way so I can get there fast. (This, in fact, is why I don’t do well shopping at the mall. It’s much too frustrating.) I’m not interested in lolly-gagging about with my mouth hanging open like some tourist, even here in Dublin, although I admit I have been guilty of it once or twice.

Having said that, I find myself constantly getting lapped and experiencing the anxiousness of sensing that someone is coming up fast behind you. Then that person passes me by with only the time to toss a “Get out of my way” expression over their shoulder. (I’ve been guilty of giving this look myself, but only to those obvious non-Dubliners who, for whatever reason, follow that unexplained yet universal phenomenon which states that lolly-gagging, Napoleon Dynamite-esk travelers must walk in pairs so as to obliviously take up as much of the sidewalk as possible.) Of course, I do not think I am deserving of such a look, but at the same time, I realize that there are still a few tail-tail signs, even before I speak, that quickly tells a Dubliner I am not one of them; the primary sign being my apparent nervous paranoia at crossing the street.

As you may know, in Ireland they drive on the left side of the road. Although someone in the Department of Tourism has kindly ensured that there are signs painted on the streets at every crosswalk reading “look right” or “look left,” I cannot seem to break my habit of first doing the exact opposite only to quickly correct myself a couple of times before figuring out the correct direction to check and thus appearing quite unsure of what I am doing here and why.

So many tourists constantly jaywalk with such a pathetic lack of skill for it that Dublin drivers seemed to have developed a game the object of which is to run down pedestrians. Drivers actually speed up as they near pedestrian heavy intersections as though attempting to qualify for the Irish equivalent of Nascar. I can personally attest that this game is quite popular in the UK where they also drive on the left side of the road. The American concept (and law) that pedestrians have the “right-of-way” is just that – an American concept. In Ireland, pedestrians have only the “right-to-get-out-of-the-way” before becoming road kill. I wouldn’t be surprise if Hollywood were to one day get the rights to film the Irish remake of Soilent Green explaining what happens next to the pedestrian road kill and whose blood is really being fried up in black pudding.

Street scenes:

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