Saturday, April 30, 2011

When People Suddenly Stop Walking in Crowded Areas

This used to happen to me in high school all the time, actually, and was one of the reasons why I only considered small colleges. I didn't want to have to deal with trying to walk somewhere, only to have someone stop directly in front of me, and have me almost crash into them. Unfortunately, it still happens on crowded sidewalks all the time.

This weekend my friend and I were crossing the street with our ice cream when all of a sudden the guy in front of us squats down to tie his shoe. Yes I understand it's important to tie your shoelaces so you don't trip on them and fall flat on your face, but really, in the middle of a busy sidewalk, practically in the crosswalk?! No. We almost tripped on him, and in hindsight I wish I had. Or at least "accidentally" kicked him. Why is it so difficult to move just a few steps over to the side? Oh wait, it's not!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poor Pool Etiquette

I swim one morning a week at the YMCA. There are 6 lanes at the pool, and nearly 100% of the time, you are required to share a lane with another person. Since not all people (myself included) grew up swimming on a team, not everyone knows that there is a set of etiquette guidelines that swimmers should follow. Luckily, because the YMCA is a public place with many users, these Lane Etiquette Rules are posted on the walls. They are simple, common sense things that include: Alert swimmers that you are joining their lane, Keep to one side of the lane, If you have to circle swim choose a lane with swimmers of your own ability... etc. Most of these things are so obvious, and on top of that, posted on the wall, that I get very annoyed when these guidelines are not followed.

As an example, proper etiquette dictates that you let any swimmers already in the lane know that you will be joining them. Last week I was swimming and as I was approaching the wall in the deep end to do a flip turn, someone jumped into my lane, practically on top of me. First of all, I was going to be on my way in approx 3 seconds. Your jump seriously couldn't wait?! Secondly, it totally freaked me out because I certainly did not expect someone to jump on top of me. It startled me and in a pool that can be dangerous. Letting swimmers already in the lane know you are joining in is as easy as putting your legs over the edge of the pool while the person approaches the wall. They just need to be aware of your presence prior to you sneaking up on them; you don't need to jump on top of them or stop them for a chitchat. A few weeks ago there was an old woman who just started swimming in the lane I was sharing with another swimmer. She didn't say anything, she just started swimming. (And I use the term swimming very lightly because it was more like floating with slight arm movements. I think she was averaging about 4min per 50yds if not slower.) The other woman in my lane nearly swam into her, and I wound up having to move since the old lady refused to comprehend what we were trying to explain to her.

Another pool rule is to circle swim when there are more than 2 people in a lane. (For you non-swimmers, that means people swim counter-clockwise, always staying to the right as you swim as opposed staying on one half of the lane as you would do when having only 2 people in the lane.) Although I see the necessity, I very much dislike it, mostly because it is impossible to find lanes with people of equal ability. Someone is always faster than the others. At the YMCA, since most of the people in the pool are over 60, I tend to be the faster one. There are times when I'm not, and I always make sure to check where the other swimmers are to know when to yield at the wall. It is proper etiquette to yield to a faster swimmer when they are close behind you. The faster swimmer can signal this by tapping the person's foot, which means that the slower person stops at the next wall to allow the faster swimmer to pass. I usually notice when someone is closing in, and yield automatically, probably because I have a heightened awareness of the problem. Usually, I wind up having to sprint passed people because they never yield. So frustrating, especially when you are trying to do fast sets.

There is also a rule about how you should actually be swimming laps in the lane. There is a woman who "swims" around the same time I do in the mornings. She takes the water dumbbells, stands in the shallow end, and does some kind of water aerobics. The YMCA I belong to has a special therapy pool for this purpose. It's about 4ft deep and perfect if you're not actually doing laps. So why this woman insists on taking up space in a lap lane is beyond me. Although, she usually shares a lane with super slow old lady that I mentioned above. Maybe they are BFFs.

This isn't one of the posted rules but it annoys me anyway, I hate when people swim breaststroke or butterfly in a shared lane. These strokes require a wide berth and are very disruptive to the person with whom you are sharing a lane. I have seen experienced swimmers switch to freestyle or one-armed butterfly while their lane-mate swims by; this is acceptable. It is not okay to smack the other person every 25 yards. Please, wait until you have your own lane or at least be aware of the other swimmer so you can adjust your stroke accordingly.

I am also annoyed when people do not swim straight. I have crashed into a few people because they strayed over the line and into my half of the lane. Do you know how much a literal head-on collision hurts? A lot. It also hurts to clonk hands or get kicked, so if you go to the pool, stay on your own side. And if you're going to cut across a lane (for example, if you are trying to get to the stairs) make sure the swimmers in the lane aren't approaching. I nearly killed a woman a few months ago when I got to the wall in the middle of a set and nearly plowed into her. I mean, really. You must have seen me coming. Did you think I was just going to stop halfway through that lap??

Finally, don't dirty the pool up. That means, take a shower before entering to wash off the sweat, lotion, deodorant, etc. Wear a swim cap if you have hair in order to prevent nasty hair balls that float around. And never, ever ever pee in the pool. Seriously.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pedestrians who Cross the Street and Block Traffic

Before any Bostonians get all angry, let me say upfront I am not anti-jaywalking. I grew up in New York and like here, jaywalking is the rule. If there is an opening, you take it. When I moved to Vermont, it was the same thing, except that the cars would stop for you instead of just honking loudly and swerving. When I moved to San Diego my roommate and I were trying to cross the street at some point and I just started to walk when no cars were coming. She looked at me like I was a criminal. "What are you doing?! You have to wait for the little walk man!" she cried. Well, I can assure you that a year in SoCal did not change my jaywalking ways and as soon as I went to Boston I was back at it, dashing across the street in gaps between a Silver Line bus and a taxi. So, I hope I have made it perfectly clear that I am not anti crossing the street when the little orange hand is up.

What I HATE though, is when pedestrians walk through traffic. Nothing is more frustrating to have a little green arrow (and no "Yield to Pedestrians on Turns" sign) and have to wait through several light cycles for all the pedestrians to get out of your way. I want to yell out the window, "Wait your turn! It's my turn!" but I'm afraid I'll sound like a 5-year-old waiting in line for the slide at recess. It's just so terrible to wait in line at a light while it goes green several times and you can't go anywhere because people are crossing the street when they shouldn't be. Usually at these times I have to pee or I'm running late and that makes it all the more frustrating.

I also see crazy people who literally cross through oncoming traffic. Meaning, the light is green, you are trying to go straight, and someone just steps out onto the street like they are so self important that they don't care about you or anything else. They don't care that your adrenaline spikes, you slam on your breaks to avoid hitting them and your heart pounds for several minutes after. And you know that in court it would totally be your fault if you hit them, even though they pretty much pounced in front of your moving vehicle. Maybe next time I should just plow into them, you know, for the sake of our species and removing the lesser beings. All that natural selection jazz.

Finally, my greatest pet peeve in regards to pedestrians and jaywalking is when people cross the street, with no regard to oncoming traffic, and they have a small child with them. If you are pushing a stroller, you know that stroller goes into the street first, right? And your child would be hit before you?? Having a child is the most beautiful gift in the world (well, so I've been told by new moms) and seeing caregivers putting their child in danger makes me insane. Just for once, think about someone other than yourself!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Slow People in the FastLane

Last night I was driving on the Mass Pike and came up to some tolls. I went into one of the FastLane (aka EZPass) lanes because I have FastLane like any sane person should. However, for some reason, one of the people in front of me insisted on traveling through the toll booth at approximately 3mph. What is the point of having FastLane if you are going to essentially stop at the toll booth? The sign clearly says 15mph, and I know there isn't traffic in front of you since the lanes next to us are breezing through. Part of this is because I really like things that are efficient, and really really don't like things that aren't. Driving slowly through the FastLane is inefficient and causes traffic jams. Don't do it! It's like in NY when they have those orange gates that come down in between every car. You are barely speeding up the process. Let people go through at 10-15mph and you will significantly reduce traffic. Or do like Maine did on 95 and install a high speed toll. Not only is it efficient but it's also really fun to laugh at the people waiting in line to pay cash. Suckers!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gas Station Prices

What the *bleep* is up with gas stations and their prices that all end in 9/10 of a penny??! Did 1/10 of a penny ever exist as a unit of currency? If it did it certainly wasn't any time recently, so why do gas stations insist on having prices like 3.499?? If I buy 11.291 gallons of gas that works out to be $39.507 (side note: wtf gas prices! Get back toward $2.799 where you belong!). Does that mean the gas station charges my credit card 39.51? If so, you owe me $0.003. If someone who commutes by car daily fills up 100 times a year, that is 30 whole cents. And over a 30 year career $9! Okay, it's not actually the money that I am upset about, it's just the fact that the gas stations assume we are so stupid that if one charged $3.499 and one charged $3.50 we would go to the $3.499 to save $0.001. Or what if a gas station started charging $3.498. Would any one be inclined to go to that place for the savings? And what happens if the cost is something like $39.504? The gas station looses money since (I hope) they only charge $39.50. I guess sometimes you get money from them and sometimes you lose, but why can't we just skip all the winning and losing and round gas prices to what they really are? Ugh, the stupidity is maddening!