Walking Metaphorically, and Then Some

Shannon with Peaks Island cap in Prospect Park
Shannon with Peaks Island cap in Prospect Park (Photo credit: iqwirty)

In an earlier post (My Lexicon as a Wordle), I listed a bunch of words I’ve made up during the course of years of living in New York City. Many of them are descriptions of styles of walking, since walking is such a large part of living in the City.

Here’s that list again, with some explanation of the invented words’ meanings, for the ones I remember. ;-)

  • slant-walker – New York City is filled with wide sidewalks and plazas. Commuters, who love to take the shortest distance between any two hurry-points, will typically walk “slant-wise,” cutting across the path of several straight-walkers for each linear foot of concrete traversed. This also leads to other NYC quirks, such as border collies and walking on the asymptote.
  • Peacewick – The simple act of sitting by candlelight.
  • now-wife – The wife you have now, as opposed to the girlfriend or gal-pal you once had.
  • wedge-walking (or gutter-walking) – This occurs when a hurry-walker moves in very close to the wall of an enclosed walkway (or, outdoors, “the chute”), forcing other walkers to divert from the typical walk-on-the-right pattern and move into the oncoming swarm-walkers.
  • the chute – New York City is constantly under construction, leaving many sidewalk areas constricted by the placement of blockages and equipment. The vastly constricted walkways thus created form some of the most perilous commuting hazards for the slow-walkers and meander-folk.
  • messenger puppy – As an antidote to the unreliable office email on which we all depend, these cute little workers carry messages (and licks) between cubicles and offices. Typically only useful for internal company mail.
  • border collies – A byproduct of slant-walkers who walk upon the asymptote, border collies are actually ill-behaved humans who approach your walking path and closely hug your own trajectory, even as you make modifications to avoid a klobber-blamming.
  • meeting puddle – Corporate life is filled with meetings, many of them ineffective, dull, or harmful. That’s okay once you learn a few defenses. But the meeting puddle is the big mess in the center of the room that you accidentally step into, which splashes muddy, poorly defined office work all over you and anyone near you.
  • meeting mud – This is used to fill a meeting puddle, waiting for an unsuspecting co-worker to leap into the middle.
  • cloud-walking – Typically implemented by groups of walking New Yorkers who are out for a social gathering or business meeting, cloud-walkers randomly meander and fill all available space, causing a lengthy walking-storm for any slow-walker who tries to pass without breaking into an all-out hurry-walk.
  • swarmed – This is what happens to poor Shannon every time he tries to cross the street in Manhattan. Doesn’t anyone know how to avoid klobber-blamming anymore?!?
  • live grenade – A person who stands as a temporary obstacle on the sidewalk, sometimes on a cell phone, sometimes trying to figure out which direction a street is, but impossible to determine what direction they are about to bolt off in. This also often happens as two New Yorkers are saying goodbye, about to both bolt off in unpredictable directions. Just accept it – it is nearly impossible to safely pass a live grenade walker without getting klobber-blammed.
  • poached egg – I have no clue anymore what I meant when I originally wrote this.
  • burst-walking – The act of exiting a store like you are a prop in a Fun House ride. Good way to scare people.
  • berry-walking – The act of walking while using a BlackBerry. clickclickclick
  • blogology – The science of blogging.
  • the change piler – Cashiers nowadays don’t pay much attention. And since they read the change amount off a screen instead of counting change, the dollars naturally get handed to you first. Sometimes in a big fluffy pile. With a pile of coins dumped on top so that you can try to catch the whole mess with two hands.
  • torpedo child – This is a child, carried in a stroller or carriage, who is propelled aggressively in front of a parent or other care-giver as a way of forcing a path to open in a crowd. Also sometimes used to keep subway doors from closing.
  • walking on the asymptote – The act of walking arbitrarily close to others, without ever actually touching them.
  • hurry-walker – This is a person who might as well just jog or run.
  • banana-tossing – A form of entertainment involving eating and then discarding the peel for a banana by tossing it across the path of a group of cloud-walkers on the sidewalk.
  • top-stepping – The act of talking on one’s cell phone at the top step of a subway entrance.
  • stampede – A coordinated effort of hurry-walkers who swarm poor Shannon.
  • stair-talking – See “top-stepping.”
  • zero-tasking – The act of getting nothing done, while convincing others you are unbelievably busy.
  • clueful – I am a big fan of creating new words and phrases by changing a suffix to its opposite (e.g., “It is better to be pissed off than pissed on!”). Clueful people know what’s what.
  • the inside track – Everybody in New York knows something special about something. It is impossible to live a productive life without having special inside knowledge about a niche area of something that is, really, unimportant.
  • reaching – The act of stressing yourself out to do more that you are actually capable of doing. Typically results, eventually, in long-term zero-tasking.
  • whiskers – The invisible sensors that tell you when a fellow walker is getting too darned close. Some people have longer whiskers than others.
  • teeter-walking – The act of walking with high-heels, across shifty New York sidewalks, grates, broken pavement, etc.