disgruntled-employeeNow that I’m retired and no longer motoring around the hallowed halls of The Company, it isn’t the annoyance it once was, but this post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for well over three years. And since it was something that annoyed me considerably for 30-some years, it’s worth recording (to me, I mean).

I find that it still does sometimes occur on the highway, and when it does, it reminds me and keeps the rant alive. In any event, I’ve been wanting to use the next paragraph for years! (It just needed the right post.)

You know what bugs me? Well, lots of things, but in this case it’s…

The way situation challenged people plant themselves in obvious traffic patterns and chat, oblivious to the fact that they are obstructing traffic!

I’m talking about pedestrian traffic, which is to say humans walking, not traffic of some random kind that is ordinary and boring.  (It would be a bit confusing to refer to an ordinary and dull automobile drive as “pedestrian.” But then sometimes walking fast is called “motoring along.”)


“Oh, just standing here blocking traffic. How ’bout you?”

I can’t decide whether it’s a matter of being oblivious, ignorant, arrogant, or stupid. (I’m pretty sure the first and last options are different.)

Maybe it’s a combination of those or some other view of reality I don’t fathom.

But honestly, I lean towards the first (with, perhaps, a dash of the last). Mostly I think people are just oblivious.

The hallway chatters don’t strike me as arrogant, but it is interesting how entitled some feel about parking it mid traffic-flow and therefore likely to push back if challenged.

An ethic I’ve encountered (dare I mutter a complaint): “What’s your problem, I’ll be out of your way in a jiff.”

Ah, but you see, by then you’ve already brought me to a screeching halt.


“Hey, wanna stand here and help us block traffic? It’s fun!”

While I do appreciate you getting out of the way, my vote would be for you not to block obvious throughways in the first place.

Is it that hard to take a moment to move to a nearby area intended for interacting? The Company is actually pretty good about providing them. Seems like it would be more comfortable than standing in the flow!

So keep the flow moving; don’t be an obstruction.

Don’t be those people!



It happens on the road, too, and I can tell there are the deliberate obstructionalists and the clueless ones. (It ought to be legal to run the first group off the road and into a muddy ditch.)

Now, it’s a fact that some people are just slower than others; that’s not their fault (unless it’s deliberate and they can keep up but choose not to).

rearviewI heard a guy once say he was afraid to look in his rear view mirror in case the situation in front of him changed too rapidly while he glanced away.

That tells me that some people process information more slowly than others.

You can see it sometimes in how rapidly (or not) people get a joke.

A friend once described how she’d look for oncoming traffic, see none, begin to pull out into the street, and then realize cars were suddenly on her tail. Clearly a case of slow data processing.

[I’ve long believed that “high IQ” really is just the ability to process data quickly and remember a lot of it in a useful way. For the record, on paper, I have an extremely high IQ, yet my life is more an exhibit in just how smart I’m not. So IQ definitely ain’t all that.]

It says something (although I’m not sure what) that we casually allow people who literally aren’t fully in control to pilot large mobile killing machines around town.

We do it even knowing that traffic accidents are one of the major causes of accidental injury and death in our society. Very possibly advances in transportation, either “self-driving” cars or effective public transportation (or ride-sharing networks), will change that equation in the future.

unhappy-driverOn the other hand, we also allow everyone to vote (and raise children!) pretty much regardless of their qualifications for those jobs (oh, if only there was a pass-fail test, but that would interfere with the whole freedom thing we used as the basis of the national identity, so we’re stuck with it).

So, basically, it means that: cars, kids, or country, it’s all too often steered by lots of oblivious people.

Comforting thought, eh?

Keep the traffic moving, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

4 responses to “Obstructions!

  • Steve Morris

    Well this is a bee in my personal bonnet too. I’ve watched these people closely over the years and have come to the conclusion that they are simply unaware of the people around them and the problems they are creating.

    Charitably, I propose that there are things these people know that I am unaware of. They are probably just as annoyed about some aspect of my behaviour that they consider to be obvious. This is hypothetical, but probable, based on my known limitations as a socially-functioning adult.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yep, agreed. Oblivious. (And, honestly, I do think being that oblivious is a sign of stupidity.)

      As for your hypothetical, I’m not sure there’s balance there. Of course we all don’t know things others know, but how “in your face obvious” are those things? Are they things we resist realizing despite being literally surrounded by evidence?

      If so, then, yeah, that probably is a Yin-Yang situation, but my guess is that you’re not that oblivious!

      Frankly, an increasing bee in my bonnet is the sense that maybe we should stop being so charitable, so understanding, about this sort of thing. It just encourages mental laziness. I sometimes wonder if part of the problem with this post-modern world is that, having deconstructed all the old standard institutions, people are left with a world so relative they don’t have any real idea of how to behave, no standards of behavior, no reference points.

      I’ve referred many times to the Death of a Liberal Arts Education, a term I coined over 40 years ago, and we now live in a world in which people are largely disconnected from the body of shared experience found in literature, art in general, and history. Without those reference points people are left to find their own way, to repeat constantly the mistakes of the past.

      As they say, the reason “history repeats itself” is that we don’t learn from it. That’s equally true of great fiction: it teaches you about life.

      • Steve Morris

        Well yeah, you have a good point. And yeah, you have another good point.

        I read an interview with Clint Eastwood recently, in which he made similar points. He was talking about how millennials have been raised to believe that nothing is their fault. He had a good point too, but some not so good points in addition.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Thanks. If so, it’s because I’ve been chewing on this a long time!

        Heh. Clint Eastwood. I really do like the guy, but I think he’s getting a bit extra-crispy in his old age. I can kind of relate. He is quite an intelligent man, and that can be a hard thing to be in this world. It wears on you. I’ve seen more than one mind give up and just embrace the Dark Side, because fuck it.

        I read an article that helped with my disappointment there. It pointed out how egalitarian, both racially and gender-wise, his body of work is. He’s been on the right side of things more than enough (for me) to make up for a bit of brain-hardening at 86.

        And there is this: My dad (and other older men I’ve known) got very unpleasant in his views and behavior probably starting somewhere around 80+. He had Alzheimer’s, which accounts for major personality change, but it was interesting to see the layers be peeled away over time.

        Deep inside many (most? all?) of us is a beast lizard brain (or what Freud called the Id). Our higher mind constantly over-rules it (Freud’s Super-ego) and we navigate between those poles (the Ego).

        So, who knows, maybe he’s outta patience (I can so relate) or just slightly out of his mind. There was that whole “addressing the empty Obama chair” thing he did at the 2012 GOP convention. Many of us thought that one was a bit weird, so this latest business seems more along those lines.

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