Stop it! Stop Walking So Slowly In Shopping Centres!
I don’t mind the odd shopping centre. I’m a bit of a voyeur in that way. Sometimes I sit in food courts for several days and just watch the way people interact with each other. In fact, there’s really only one thing stopping me from flat-out moving in to a shopping centre.
In theory, the hallowed halls of shopping centres are wide enough for everyone. They can accommodate mall-rats, grandmothers, those people who try to sell skin care products and trolleys with kids hanging off them. Everyone has room to walk at a reasonable pace and with some kind of purpose, however small.
It works like that, for the most part. But every so often, the wind changes and the people in front of me become much slower versions of their former selves.
I don’t mean people with frames or toddlers not yet sure on their feet. The people I’m talking about always come in groups. Gaggles, if you will, or drudgeries. Yes, a drudgery of people. They are distinguished not by age or ethnicity or gender but by the snail’s pace at which they move.
Often, it comes without warning. I’m going along at 3 to 5 kilometres per hour, like everyone else, when out of nowhere one of the Slow Walkers takes pause. A trinket in a shop window, a tissue fetched from a handbag, a conversation that requires extra concentration. In a moment, foot traffic comes to a standstill.
Most of the time, I can live with it. Sometimes I even get a kind of sad joy out of the Slow Walker dance – I move to go around, they move to block me, over and over. But if it’s Saturday morning or, God forbid, Christmas Eve, I crumble. The sky blackens. My eyes glaze over.
“Stop it!” I cry. “Stop walking so slowly!”
Because they are in slow motion, they can’t respond to my pleas. They do not walk faster. If anything, they become more confused and start bumping into each other. People behind me begin to panic. They try to fight their way through the blockade with swinging shopping bags. Footlong subs become weapons. Still the Slow Walkers are unmoved. And if that isn’t bad enough, they inexplicably seem to spread out. They’re always just far enough apart to necessitate yelling at each other, but not enough for anyone to squeeze through. It’s like a giant game of Stuck in the Mud.
With no alternative, the growing group of walk hostages keeps pace with the Slow Walkers until freedom is in sight – a clearing or a car park. We are almost in tears as we flee, but our captors don’t even notice.
This emotional roller coaster must be stopped. My proposal is this: fast and slow lanes.
Pools have them, right? You just have to be realistic about your speed. The same would go for shopping centre lanes.
If you’ve never stood behind a Slow Walker and quietly cursed them, chances are you’d belong in the ‘SLOW’ lane. There would be no shame in it. You wouldn’t even catch the eye of shoppers in the ‘FAST’ lane, so no one would laugh at you. You could dawdle to your heart’s content, with all the browsing and the chatting and the aching tedium, and the rest of us could just dash in and dash out again. The ‘SLOW’ lanes could be equipped with relaxing music and easy chairs, while the ‘FAST’ lane could be all Flight of the Valkyries and Red Bull. Problem solved!
Although there is the small matter of my Nanna. She would need a dedicated lane. ‘STOPPED’.
It’s a work in progress.
How about you? Does this tick you off?!