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don't WALK!!! or you'll be judged.

By 6/06/2008

pedestrian signs, originally uploaded by Crystian Cruz.

for crying out loud.

i was just reprimanded on my walking style for the FOURTH time in the whole foods parking lot. FOUR times.

my office is one block from the whole foods in durham, so i go there frequently.

a few months ago, a man in a car slowed down and rolled down his window and asked me, "do you think wearing red means you're a stop sign?"

uhhh, what?

"you never walk DIAGONALLY in a parking lot, don't you know that!"

uhhhhhh, what?

he was driving parallel to me, so it made no sense anyway.

then about a month ago, a man stopped me as i got out of my car in the parking lot and told me i'd done a shitty parking job. it was friday afternoon, i just wanted some beers, and i did not respond politely to this observation.

THEN ... JUST NOW ... i walked to whole foods, and found a woman waiting for me at the door, who told me that i had jay walked.
just standing there, waiting.

i said, THANKS!

we're not downtown. durham has no bustle or hustle about it. i looked both ways and made an informed and safe trek across the street. she must have just been standing there watching me. judging.

this confounds me. i'm generally very well mannered with strangers and service people and animals and old people. i hold doors, i smile at strangers, i say thank you and please and i'm usually very patient.

what do you do when a stranger gives you crap for something? do you smile and take it? do you argue back? do you get ugly with them?

or are you the dreaded reprimanding busy-body?


  1. To be honest, I would probably say something, that's me. I wouldn't be mean but I would let them now that I disapprove of their opinion, unless I knew I was in the wrong...then I may react differently.

  2. That is so RUDE! It's a parking lot, there aren't any crosswalks!? These people are crazy. I hate when these little digs ruin an afternoon.

  3. "Pardon me, do I know you?"
    Totally throws them off and implies that they're putting their nose in business where it doesn't belong, without straight out saying it.

    And, if you're super grumpy (e.g., on a crowded public-transportation day where no one is giving up a seat for you even though you're blind, pregnant, and one-legged), then it's, "I don't recall asking for your opinion on the matter. I'm just here for the beer."

  4. I had someone yell something at me once about taking up too much of the exit or something (I was in my car) and my response was, "You have too much time on your hands." I mean, really -- Waited for you? To reprimand you??

  5. I got hit by a car once when I was jaywalking - middle of the day at a park, totally sober. I agree that maybe their approach wasn't great, but it is dangerous to jaywalk, as well as walking diagonally in a parking lot. You may not see them coming when they hit you. Maybe it is a mom with a baby in the backseat who looks back for just a second and then WHAM. It easy to just do the right thing and expend your energy getting upset about something else. Your blog is excellent and very funny, but they aren't judging you if you are doing something wrong. Not to be harsh because I do think you are great!

  6. point well taken. i did walk back the *right* way to restore karmic balance.


    *Especially* in parking lots.

    Apparently, I was sick the day we learned about this forbidden diagonal parking lot walking business. You still have the right of way, walking backwards, forwards, diagonal, or upside-down on your hands - whatever!

  8. you'd think she would congratulate you for choosing to walk a block in the 100 degree heat instead of driving.

    i get a self righteous vibe from durham sometimes, but maybe its just me.

  9. Keep your face absolutely impassive. Don't give even the tiniest sign that you have heard them.

    The best way to punish such people is to imply that they don't exist.

  10. I choose "ugly." It helps that I'm 5'9" and favor 3"+ heels. Come to think of it, I've only ever had one person mess with me. He regretted it.

  11. For such a "free society" people are certainly quick to jump on other people's actions aren't they? I'd keep walking. Jay and otherwise.

  12. Is there a parking lot rule book I didn't hear about? I have never heard the diagonal walking thing. Jaywalking yes. However, it seems that unless you are impeding someone's right of way, then it's nobody else concern.
    Try "Oh my god, you are SO RIGHT!" and walk on. Or, "my seeing eye dog is sick and I didn't realize.Thanks"
    or just get a life! Yeah unfortunately, unless it is the person i am directly affecting where I would apologize immediately, I go for ugly. In the nicest way of course!
    Lisa & Alfie

  13. I hate people so much some times . i used to be such a social butterfly too. i am not polite at all when people judge me. i cannot get past it either, it ruins my day. i was at bed bath and beyond (blood bath and beyond) when my 2 year old started freaking out because i wouldn't buy her what ever piece of crap was at the checkout line (total set up by the store too) as we were leaving her fit became a full on temper tantrum. biting, screaming, hitting, trying to run into traffic. i was hoping that someone would help me because i was having to hold onto her while pushing my cart, picking up her shoes and dig for my keys. then out of the blue- there she was! a woman approached me, thank you i said. but she wasn't there to help. she screamed at me that i was a terrible mother and that she was calling the police! i was completely heartbroken.

  14. I find that having a quick, businesslike stride and a raging bitchface usually deters people from nattering at me, but when they do I treat them like catcallers. That is, I totally ignore them. Sometimes that means they just get more insistent; still, I maintain my pokerface and keep walking.

    I can't recall ever being harassed in a parking lot, though. People say weird stuff to me when I'm biking.