Hazards of BlackBerry-walking

People are increasingly walking down the street, typing into their BlackBerry or other PDA, and bumping into other pedestrians. What should we do about it?

The best way to get from one place to another here in New York, where I'm on a business trip, is to walk. Except that walking has become increasingly hazardous.

It's not the nastily dressed business folks who come up behind you and insist on brushing your shoulder as they waft to another interesting appointment. It's the people walking straight at you, typing into their BlackBerry. (My statistically insignificant research showed 75 percent were BlackBerry users. You know, men in cashmere coats and tasseled loafers.)

It happened to me the first time just outside a Cellulite Center on Madison Ave. A man was walking in full stride from the north, pushing his thumbs into his keyboard as if he was a masseur trying to rid a client of a very difficult adhesion.

Naively, I believed that he had to look up at some point before he crashed into my two-pack. Instead, his BlackBerry Storm put a dent in my duodenum. It all happened in peculiar slow motion, like a Volvo crash test.

He looked up, gave me a momentary stare as if he was heartily pissed that I'd disrupted his messaging, and marched on without so much as an "excuse me."

The next time I was about to be struck by someone caught in their BlackBerry blind spot, I danced out of the way, using a move I'd seen Mark Cuban perfect on Dancing With The Stars. The rather hairy man didn't even look up.

A policeman sets an excellent example. See how he stands still and texts? CC Moriza

Then I decided on a new tactic. I would allow people to walk into me, even perhaps nudging my way slightly into their path, just to see whether and how they would react.

The score so far: three incidents. Two people looked up, as if I had dropped my trousers in the middle of their business meeting. And one told me to expletive watch where I was expletive going.

This leads me to wonder whether walking and PDAing might be worth a little DAing. Surely, some fine district attorneys might find it in themselves to create a little misdemeanor out of this peculiar habit. You know, like jaywalking. Or leaving animal excrement forlorn and unbagged.

Or perhaps, at least, we could have little texting areas on street corners every three or four blocks. Sponsored by BlackBerry. Or Volvo.

 

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