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Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's...nice to have a diagnosis?

Some of these people are really annoyed at you
Apparently I might have Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome.  According to the Wall Street Journal,
Researchers say the concept of "sidewalk rage" is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as "intermittent explosive disorder," researchers say. On Facebook, there's a group called "I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head" that boasts nearly 15,000 members. . . 
 Some researchers are even studying the dynamics that trigger such rage and why some people remain calm in hopes of improving anger-management treatments and gaining insights into how emotions influence decision making, attention and self control.
"We're trying to understand what makes people angry, what that experience is like," says Jerry Deffenbacher, a professor at Colorado State University who studies anger and road rage. "For those for whom anger is a personal problem, we're trying to develop and evaluate ways of helping them." 
Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a "mean face" or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.
I'm guilty on the muttering and staring thing.   Maybe even the "mean face" thing occasionally, though it's hard to tell, being always behind the face.  But let me explain, please-- for me, it's not simply about people being slow.  There are good reasons to be slow on a sidewalk, and if you get angry at someone for being old or disabled then you're...not a pleasant person.

My problem is with those who exhibit the kind of lack of awareness as to think that stopping suddenly in a crowded entrance to a store, train station, etc. to root around in one's purse is a good idea.  People who play the "I'm not moving" game when confronted with someone moving in the opposite direction while carrying something obviously heavy.  People who fail to comprehend that before they can board a bus, train, tram, or elevator, they're going to need to step back and let others disembark.  In general, people who either don't appear to have the first notion of how to conduct themselves considerately in a situation where masses of people are trying to get from one place to another, or who just don't care.  Airports are a big one-- yes, maybe you still have two hours left on your layover, but that's no reason to make life difficult for someone who was given thirty minutes to traverse an entire airport in order to reach their next connection (not an exaggeration-- this has happened to me multiple times).  Try browsing the shops by doing the leisurely "I've got half a day to kill" saunter directly in front of them, instead of smack in the middle of the hall where sweaty people are frantically trying to break the space-time continuum to get to their flights.

Any narrow lane of passage through which people other than you are trying to travel?  Not the best place to stop and check if someone has texted you.  A crowded sidewalk?  Might not be optimal to decide with your friends that you should walk five-abreast at approximately one mile an hour.  I realize that children are walking random opportunities for catastrophe, but do you really need to halt everything to scream at the young'un at the top of an escalator or the end of a moving walkway?

No, I do not bump people or step on toes.  I don't intentionally try to impede them in retaliation-- what good would that do?  I just sigh and, if my patience has been completely depleted, occasionally say things under my breath that I'm both unable to resist saying and simultaneously hope that no one hears.  Most of the time.

I'm not a bad person...am I?  If so, blame the syndrome.

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