With the bulk of the students gone, I have been able to reflect on the some of the worst aspects of Campustown. In the course of my average day, I walk through a good portion of it here at the University of Illinois. I go to classes. I give patronage to restaurants. I often duck down alleyways and enter random buildings in order to avoid running into people. I generally cover a lot of ground, and in my perambulations, I’ve noticed something: the pedestrians on this campus are out of control.
They traipse around with no restraint or consideration, striking fear and horror into the hearts of motorists and bystanders alike. High-stepping merrily about, they have no regard for any laws or even for the basic tenets of decency. Traffic lights, crosswalks and the idea of keeping right are all things that the campus pedestrian cannot be bothered to consider. Being a wit, I cannot help but closely observe the behavior of these fools and I have begun to identify them within distinct species. And so, I would like to share with you, good friend, my observations of these failed passengers, who I have come to name collectively the “Shoe Leather Express”.
The Text Walker
First, and by far the worst of all, are the the Text Walkers. These idiots meander around campus with their arms outstretched, holding their phones directly in front of their eyes so that they can text and walk at the same time. To me, it looks like they are chasing after their phones. They think that they can safely walk and text, but this is nothing but a ludicrous delusion. Their manner of walking is entirely determined by what letter they need to type for their message. N — zig right. I — zag left. A — speed up. Z — zig right while concurrently slowing down. The end result is that they look like disorientated greyhounds chasing after a flashing, noisy lure. I don’t even want to mention what happens when these canines endeavor to cross a street. I’m sure you can imagine the kind of pandemonium it creates.
The Mobile Mobiler
Directly below the Text Walker on the Campus Wit Scale of Egregiousness are fellow Mobile Mobilers, the Walk and Talkers. The members of this jolly genus spend all their ambling hours engaged in deep debates and discussion on their mobile telephones. Although their vision is not impaired like the Text Walkers, the Walk and Talkers often commit more walking sins than their texting-inclined brethren. They think that because they have no vision impairments that they will be able to safely navigate through the campus maze, but unfortunately most of these wandering souls never bothered to learn how to use two senses at once. Therefore, they devote their all their sensory attention to listening and fail to use their sight. This results in walking in front of cars, crossing over bike-paths without first checking for oncoming bikes and continuously bumping into people. Unlike the Text Walkers who at least know that their vision is impaired and try to focus on peripheral actions, the Walk and Talkers hardly seem to realize that they have ability to see. The common Walk and Talker generally looks like an insane blind person with a death wish.
The Pedestrian Alien
The final group of Champaign–Urbana pedestrians that I have observed are what I like to call Pedestrian Aliens. I call them this because their knowledge of the rules of pedestrian behavior is seemingly so small that I have no other choice but to believe that they are literally aliens from a different planet masquerading as humans. I can find no other explanation for the complete and total insanity of their actions. Some of the behaviors of these Aliens include walking exclusively on the left-side of the sidewalk, boldly and inconsiderately crossing the street at stop signs as if cars didn’t have the potential to mangle their bodies, acting as if pedestrian traffic lights are merely pretty pictures placed around campus to boost morale, treating bike paths like extensions of the sidewalk where foot traffic is encouraged and even welcomed, and deciding to walk at a completely different pace from the rest of the crowd for no apparent reason. These Aliens have overrun campus and I’m starting to fear for my safety.
Well, there you have it. Keep an eye out for these different varieties of pedestrians. It’s a fun way to pass the time while walking and will also help you to circumnavigate their mindless idiocy. Direct observation of Campustown pedestrians, however, has the tendency to incite rage, which might lead you to start observing bicyclists — and don’t even get me started on bicyclists….