Get out of my way!

By Mari Pothier |

Walking through the beautiful Flagler College rotunda I was on a mission: I was not going to move out of anybody’s way. While I was walking briskly with my head held high I spotted a tourist. He was an old man with a light blue sweat shirt and navy blue baseball cap walking right into my path. I braced myself for contact but at the last minute he saw me and in a startled manner jumped back out of my way.

I did it! I didn’t move.

Typically, when I am walking down a sidewalk, or anywhere for that matter, I move out of people’s way. Sometimes I think they may move over, too, just a little bit. But generally they don’t and I am shoved off the concrete and left walking through the dirt and grass. So I decided to try it out myself. I wanted to see what it would be like to be the person who doesn’t move. Frankly, I was tired of always being the one pushed around and I decided this would be a great time to stick up for myself. But even though it was an empowering act, something inside me didn’t feel right.

Today we live in a society where everyone seems to care only about themselves. They are stuck in their own little world not realizing that other people are around them. A perfect example of this was when I was 12 years old and I almost fell into the San Antonio River.

My family and I were in San Antonio, Texas on vacation and my father ended up getting a stomach ache one evening. Of course we didn’t have any medicine so my mother and I ventured out onto the River Walk to get my dad some meds. The river was narrow with greenish, yellow water (not very pretty but it was filled with ducks and I think they were the reason for it) and narrow sidewalks on either side. The River Walk at night was chaotic and filled with tourists looking for a place to eat. Along the sidewalks there were tons of restaurants to choose from with menus sitting right on the side for people to read.

My mother and I walked through the maze of people, but out of nowhere some woman with a giant purse, looking at a menu, backed up into my path causing me to lose my balance. Me and the river were about to meet face to face when my mother helped me regain my balance. Filled with anger for the woman’s carelessness, my mother said the woman would have gone in too if I had fallen in.

The woman wasn’t being mean. She was just oblivious to the fact that anyone was around her. She was a victim of our self-centered society.

This wasn’t the only time that I have been shoved and pushed out of the way. It has happened way too many times, and this is the reason why I pushed back my shoulders, lifted my head up high and stopped moving over. At first I was a little nervous because I grazed a few college guys’ shoulders. I actually forgot a few times and moved out of people’s way. But another success came when I was walking up the narrow breezeway stairs and a girl was walking right towards me. Probably expecting me to move, she ended up shimmying her shoulders sideways and walked past. Success I thought, or was it?

Even though I did have a feeling of empowerment, something inside of me didn’t feel right. I was now contributing to our “ME” society and I didn’t like it. The solution to this problem shouldn’t be me pushing people out of my way to make a point, but for people to start showing each other common courtesy. What happened to the days when people cared and held doors open for one another? It is sad to think that those days are gone, but they don’t have to be. If people would just stop thinking only about themselves for one minute and move just a little when walking down the sidewalk, then everyone would get a chance to keep their feet on the concrete.

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