The secret footpath protocol scoring game

Ever got frustrated dodging lunch time crowds on busy city streets?

Don’t worry. It’s all part of the Secret Footpath Protocol Scoring Game, revealed here for the first time.

1. Walking very slowly, randomly drifting from left to right, oblivious to other people. One point for every person blocked.

2. Lighting a cigarette and leaving it burning so as to choke everybody behind in a fog of disgusting carcinogens. One point for everybody who tries to get away from the stinking trail.

3. Drifting to a halt, aimlessly, in front of a shop window, door or ATM machine, waiting a moment, then drifting a little further, oblivious to people. One point for everybody blocked as they try to get around.

4. Walking with iron purpose if anybody approaches from the other direction. One point for everybody forced to dodge (this doesn’t work if they’re trying to score points back the other way).

So now you know. And, of course, as you can’t beat ’em…may as well join ’em…

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013


18 thoughts on “The secret footpath protocol scoring game

  1. Great post. How many points do you get for drawing blood? I have yet to find a dawdling pedestrian who doesn’t respond favorably to a pair of beetle crushers (my choice of footwear) snapping at their heels.

    1. Cool!🙂 Actually, I have to say the one that bugs me is when smokers have to light up and then trail it behind them. I am a non-smoker & don’t see why they should inflict their effluvium on me. I don’t know if South Africa is similar? We get a lot of people who smoke outside in NZ because of the smoke-free building laws. One of our cities, Palmerston North (I think) was going to declare its whole downtown area wholly smoke-free – all to the good as far as I am concerned – but of course there was the usual scream from people who weren’t prepared to give up.

      1. Yeah, I hate that too. They seem oblivious to the noisome smell they leave in their wake,

        And If people are standing on the footpath smoking, I take a really wide berth round them, and make it as obvious as possible.

        And worst of all are those restaurants/cafes that have nice outdoor areas, and someone lights up at the next table.

        Horrid, horrid habit!

      2. We also have quite strict non smoking laws in South Africa, which I appreciate, seeing as I don’t smoke. Here in Johannesburg, we shop mostly in huge shopping malls, which have strict no smoking rules, so I have yet to come across a dawdling smoker. I’m sure there are still towns and cities where you get the throngs of pedestrian traffic, but I haven’t seen anything like that in years, except maybe in Cape Town. I think people gravitate towards shopping malls also for the safety aspect, due to the high crime rate in South Africa. But I think the habit of shoppers wandering aimlessly in a daze, is universal.

  2. I don’t know if it is the same in other parts of the world, but in Wellington, especially on the golden Mile, there seems to be an unwritten rule that pedestrians keep left. Most pedestrians keep to this self-regulated rule, and the few people who don’t oblige seem to be mainly visitors and tourists (though now I know they could also be people playing the game mentioned here by Matthew!).

    Is such self-regulated footpath/pavement/sidewalk behaviour prevalent in other countries, too? And if they drive on the right, I presume such walking behaviour would also devolve to walking on the right too?

    1. It’s my own experiences walking that Golden Mile that got me on to this idea…🙂 Lambton Quay needs widening (and fans put in to get rid of the smokers’ effluent).

    2. In the US it seems mostly keep to the right on foot paths and sidewalks except to pass. I suppose it must be habit from also driving on the right. Those that violate the rules are usually totally oblivious to the rest of the world or perhaps playing Matthew’s game. I’ll have to watch more closely and see if some of them are keeping score.

      1. I guess Kiwis do keep to the left, reasonably. I remember quite a shock the first time I tried walking down streets in Amsterdam – all my ‘dodging’ reflexes were backwards…

  3. You have some deep rooted frustration there Matthew! I notice you used the word ‘conspiracy’ AGAIN… a code you’re sending perhaps????

    1. It seems to be a worldwide problem! Actually I recall trying to navigate down Sydney’s George Street on one Friday evening last visit – trying to get to a pretty good sushi place we’d been to before. It was like floating in a sea of people, all moving in the opposite direction and none of whom had the slightest intention of giving way….

  4. When I was in college, there were always people who walked so horrifically slow, sometimes I thought they were going backwards. And, of course, they traveled in groups so large that you couldn’t get around them. I have long legs, so my pace is pretty quick, but STILL. How frustrating. There’s little else that’s worse than walking behind a crowd made of molasses when you’re late to class.

  5. Part of my daily commute includes a one mile walk on an indoor skyway through the city. The skyway is roughly 20 feet wide. I have thought many times about writing a blog post on the topic of the politics of commuting. You have just covered one aspect. It is also one of my pet peeves.As I tend to have a fair amount of mass and I can still accelerate, #4 seems to work quite well when necessary. However, when meeting someone else trying to score points using the same technique, I believe points should be awarded for how far your opposite flies after the collision.🙂

    1. Good plan! Your commute through an indoor skyway sounds pretty cool, actually – a ‘use your own feet’ version of Heinlein’s rolling roads or Asimov’s ‘Caves of Steel’ slideways. Those were a fascinating idea, if likely impractical at any reasonable cost. And I bet Asimov’s ‘slideways’ would have had the same problems with inconsiderate dawdlers!

  6. Let me add an experience of mine while I was in Pittsburgh.
    Get a white cane and pretend to be blind. When a pretty young woman passes by, stick your cane in front of her. Keep moving it so she has to jump around, like doing the Highland Fling.
    I considered breaking his cane, knowing he was not truly blind. A blind person uses the cane in front of them so they know when they come to a step, curb or other obstacle. This guy was moving the cane to far off to his side. So wrong!

Comments are closed.