Be warned: rant a-brewin'.
I've been running. I'm sure I mentioned. It's rare I don't mention my raging obsession of the moment. So I've been running. I actually have taken my former fear of running outdoors, i.e. in Central Park with its trees and grass and so forth, and turned it into an unbridled passion. You cannot keep me outta that damned park lately. Because I'm being very, very respectful of my knee and making absolutely sure I don't mess it up again and thus lose months of fun-fun-fun with my obsession I only run every other day. I hate the 'rest' day. Hate it I tell ya. But because I'm so insane about this whole running in the park thing I end up walking around aimlessly in the park on the rest days looking towards the running track and sighing like a mopey 13 year old.
But on the running days I make use of that most lovely of Central Park spaces, The Reservoir. I like it mostly because it's a measured distance that I can grasp. I know there are other routes in the park that are measured out, but ... look, I have difficulty with directions on the NYC street grids, you don't want to hear about how lost I can get on all those non-numbered park pathways. It's almost pathetic. Oh hell, not almost.
So I run on the running track at the Reservoir. This is a space reserved for people on foot. For people walking or jogging or running. No bikes, no strollers, no roller blades, not even doggies. It's a fairly narrow track, meant for a specific use. There are signs stating such as well as arrows telling people to 'go in this direction'. Which is not just some autocratic whim but meant to make everything run smoothly and keep people from getting in each other's way. And yet....
Aside: one of my biggest gripes with people is that they are rude - and that rudeness shows itself in its full glory walking on the streets of New York City. People stop abruptly for absolutely no reason - as if there isn't a soul behind them. They stand in the middle of the sidewalk in groups effectively blocking the way - but no matter as there isn't another soul in the world aside from themselves. They also have an uncanny knack of walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Now technically there isn't a right and wrong side, but if you use common sense and keep to the right everyone has plenty of room to walk on both sides. It astounds me how many people walk dead center on the sidewalk, or on the left and maybe I'm just magnetic or something but I have seen people actually veer out of their 'lane' and head right for me. WTF is that? I mean I have been literally brushing the wall of a building (walking on the right hand side mind you) and have had people veer over from the other side and try to get between me and the wall. I am NOT making this up. Is there a prize for being blatantly obnoxious for no reason whatsoever? did I miss the memo? What is wrong with people? These erratic walking habits have led me to my own personal mantra on the streets of "thank GOD they aren't behind the wheel of a car!" Because truly, if they walk like that, you know damned well they drive like that as well. Scary.
But back to the running track. Now on the city streets there are no signs suggesting a polite and organized system of keeping out of everyone's way for the good of EVERYONE, but at the track there actually are signs. AND YET.... I swear people simply do not believe ANYTHING applies to THEM! Even if you cannot read the signs because they are in English, there are icons and arrows which are, I believe, pretty universal no matter what language you speak. But even if you happen to miss seeing the signs how about if the majority are running, to the right, why would you think you should ride your bike, push your stroller and walk 4 abreast in high heels in the opposite direction? What could possibly make someone think they are so rarefied that no one else matters and that common courtesy is something they do not have to take in to consideration? I have actually had people walking right towards me while I'm running - in a GROUP that takes up the entire width of the track and STARING me in the eye and not budging an inch! Is this some sort of alpha dog territorial throw down? I say again: WTF?
The only explanation I can come up with is the stupidity. This level of in your face rudeness smacks of serious stupid. This is not to say all rudeness is born of stupidity. If it's towards someone you know it's likely done for a reason - I know a lot about passive aggression. It was part of my family's skill set. But general lack of common courtesy in public towards absolute strangers can only be a result of plain old lack of smarts.