Maybe it’s not happening in Boston — after all, it’s a fairly big, crowded city — but where I live, people largely know proper walking etiquette these days.
Furthermore, although there are signs at trail entrances, it seems common sense was enough for people to figure out that they should stay away from other groups, walk single file where possible, stay on one side … and so on.
But not everyone.
This week’s Walking Trail Wednesday started in the same place as last week’s, but Suzi and I walked in the opposite direction this time.
It wasn’t nearly as crowded — the weather wasn’t as good — and that portion of the trail isn’t quite as nice because while there’s a scenic pond on one side, the trail runs mostly parallel to a commercial district, so the view on the other side is mostly the backs of businesses.
The pond side also have about a four-foot gravel area alongside the paved path, which is about 12 to 15 feet wide, so we were walking at the edge of the gravel to give ourselves and everyone else as much space as possible.
It also comes in handy for avoiding cyclists.
Walking in a time of social distancing also requires looking and thinking ahead … to figure out what you’re going to do in a potential tight squeeze.
Yesterday, for example, Suzi and I were coming up the hill by our house when we saw a woman coming down the sidewalk. Normally, it’s no issue, because we’d just veer into the road momentarily and get back on the sidewalk once she passed.
However, there were cars coming. So I stopped, let the cars go by and held up my hand when the woman made a move toward the road to let her know she could stay where she was, and then we walked around her and went on our way.
On the trail, it mostly means being on the lookout for people walking in the middle or across the width of the path. Usually, they see other people coming and sort themselves out.
But not always.
Our best guess is that they were two mothers and their daughters, teenagers or close to it, with the daughters out front and their moms in back.
And they were on opposite sides of the trail, coming right at us.
And they weren’t moving.
I was already as far into the gravel as I could go, but I moved over until I was practically behind a tree, but to get away from them and hopefully send a message — passive-aggressive though it may have been — that they shouldn’t have taken up the whole trail.
It worked so well that I heard one of the mothers say something along the lines of “They’ll be fine. They’re more than six feet away” as they walked by.
Well, yeah … because I was practically hiding behind a tree.
A cyclist a few moments later yelled something about them being in the way as he rode through.
For all I know, they probably complained about the jerks they ran into on the trail, but if there’s a silver lining, I guess they stood out because so many other people are trying to do the right thing.