With Center City becoming more and more populated and crowded, we’ve noticed a lot more people on the sidewalks these days. Many of you are perfectly polite, civilized types. But this article goes out to the rest of you: The worst people on Philadelphia’s sidewalks.
20. The Union Rat People
Because nothing says “hard working union labor” like a bunch of scruffy, beer-bellied slobs standing on the sidewalk all day long — and with a fugly inflatable rat — telling you not to eat at a restaurant that employs local people and buys local ingredients and makes the city a better place to live in, as the scruffy, beer-bellied slobs did in front of Amis and Barbuzzo and countless other awesome restaurants throughout the city.
19. Irresponsible Smokers
We get it. You don’t care that you’re probably going to die from lung or throat cancer or emphysema. Fine. But please, for the love of all that is good and holy, flick your spent butts away from people — not at them. We once saw a butt land in a baby stroller. One that had a baby in it. Not cool.
18. Nasal Expellers
This isn’t something we encounter very often (thank God), hence its rather low position on the list. But when we see a guy turn his head to the side, shut one nostril with his finger and then blow forcibly out of the other, snot-rocketing his nasal nastiness onto the pavement we tread on and into the air we breathe, it makes us want to kill. Kill. KILL!
17. Millennial Panhandlers
We hate to sound like your Republican grandfather, but … GET A JOB.
16. Men Who Don’t Yield to Women
The ladies at Philadelphia magazine headquarters insist this is a huge problem, that many men would just as soon walk right into a woman if she didn’t sidestep him first. Guys, if there’s a narrow passage and you see a woman walking toward you, get out of her way. Manners 101. Sheesh.
15. Bluetooth Talkers
The only good thing about the Gordon Gekko-wannabe guys who yap on and on — and loudly — through their Bluetooth headsets about the most boring stuff while walking down the street is that we get to play one of our favorite games: Crazy Person or Bluetooth? We’d complain about these Bluetooth Talkers more, but, hey, they are slightly less annoying than those chirping Nextel phones. They were the worst.
14. Wobble Walkers
These are people who cannot walk in a straight line, completely screwing up the flow of traffic for everyone else. They sort of sway from side to side, tracing a wonky sine wave-like pattern throughout the city. They are not to be confused with Weave Walkers — the people who purposefully zigzag through the crowds of lollygagging pedestrians. We do not blame the Weave Walkers one bit. We want to get where we’re going — and off of the streets — as soon as possible, too.
13. Sidewalk Clusterers
The primary purpose of any sidewalk is as a pedestrian thoroughfare to allow human beings to get from point A to point B. If you are standing in large clusters blocking said progress, this is a problem. This is especially a problem around food trucks, where people seem to have a hard time just standing in a straight line while waiting to place an order, while others simply hang around the truck smoking and chatting. Get out of my way!
12. Surprise Pointers
“Look, honey, doesn’t that cloud look like a banana?” he asks, clotheslining you in the process.
11. Sidewalk Bicyclists
The only thing worse than a bicyclist who doesn’t know how to ride their bike properly in the street is a bicyclist who decides to break the law and ride on the sidewalk. Not to sound like Stu Bykofsky here, but where can we get our hands on some spike strips?
10. Wide Walkers
Why is it that the larger a person is, the more likely it is that he will insist on walking two or three abreast with his lunch buddies down the street? And why is it that the bigger the group, the less likely it is that any of them will step aside to let someone pass? Single file, people!
9. Sudden Stoppers
The rules of the sidewalk really aren’t that much different from the rules of the road. Keep to the right. Don’t give anyone the finger. Avoid slamming on the brakes.
8. Inconsiderate Parents
Especially the ones who think that it’s a good idea to bring the double-wide stroller to the farmer’s market.
7. Walking Texters and Instagrammers
It has been almost three years to the day since Mayor Nutter announced the implementation of E-Lanes on Philadelphia sidewalks for pedestrians who simply could not stay off of their phones while walking. Of course, that was an April Fool’s prank. But perhaps it shouldn’t have been. Trust us: Your text or Ansel Adams-quality Instagram photo can wait. And if it really can’t, don’t be a Wobble Walker or Sudden Stopper: Calmly step to the side and type away.
6. Large Groups of High School Students
If you’ve never had the pleasure of being near the corner of 15th and Chestnut in the mid-afternoon hours, consider yourself lucky. Instead of heading right home to do their homework and help mom with dinner, the teens here like to hang out in large groups, make out, call each other names, and sometimes fight. If you hear commotion, run!
5. Golf Umbrella Carriers
It has been said that Philadelphia drivers are instant idiots: Just add water. Same goes for Philadelphia pedestrians, who don’t seem to understand that when you carry an umbrella over your head, you are increasing your breadth significantly, and you need to behave accordingly. The worst of these people are those who carry umbrellas large enough to keep Rhode Island dry. It’s like they have some deathly allergy to water. And for some reason, these people seem to have a strong correlation with No. 15 on this list.
4. People With Dogs
We’re sorry, oh urban dweller, that you don’t have a backyard to let your precious pooch run around in, but that’s not our problem. Your dog may be the most important thing in your life, but to us, it’s just another sidewalk obstacle. Keep that leash tight, or don’t come crying to us when fluffball winds up at the vet with a bwoken widdle paw.
This is a huge epidemic in Philadelphia. The Center City District does a pretty good job of keeping up with the ignorantly discarded soda bottles, candy wrappers, spent cigarette packs and floss sticks (Yes, floss sticks! People actually floss their teeth on the street and discard their floss sticks right on the sidewalk! We’ve seen it!). But venture into some of the other neighborhoods, and it’s a completely different, disgusting story. Littering was still against the law last time we checked, but when was the last time you saw someone getting a littering ticket?
We’re not sure why, but we see a lot otherwise perfectly upstanding citizens who feel the need to share their saliva with the world. And that’s just the normal expectoration. Don’t even get us started on the loogie hockers. So gross.
1. Clipboard People
Everybody talks about how much better Philadelphia is than it was a decade or a few ago. Yes, the city is glitzier and there are multi-million-dollar penthouses all around us, and you can eat in a different great restaurant every night of the year and still not be done, while 30 years ago we were filthy, bankrupt and dealing with legacies like the MOVE bombing and deranged killer Gary Heidnik. But at least back then we didn’t have to deal with the clipboard people, those crunchy, polo shirt-wearing millennials who are sort of like panhandlers, except they hit you up for your signature and email address instead of cash for booze. And they engage you with questions you’d have to be a complete ass to answer negatively (“Do you have a second for cancer research?” “Do you care about clubbed seals?” “Are you against rape?”), and then, even if you already give hundreds of dollars to cancer research, clubbed seals and rape victim advocacy, you still have to say yes — or be OK with everyone on the sidewalk thinking you’re an uncaring heel. You’re screwed. Our tip: If you see these dregs of humanity and sense that you are about to become a target, whip out your cell phone and pretend to be on a call. Yes, a fake cell phone call. It’s your only hope.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter, but stay out of his way on the street.