Rule #5: Don't Turn a Blind Corner
Fiancé and I saw something funny the other day. It was one of those moments you wish were in slow motion so it would never end. We were walking down the street, and we saw two people walking towards the corner of a building from opposite directions at the same time. The one walking parallel to us was a young guy who was busy texting. The person walking around the corner from him was an old woman who was busy trying to stay upright, I think.
We literally stopped in our tracks to watch what was sure to be a head-on collision. We also wanted to see who would step aside to let the other pass. This was one of those rare scenarios where you could actually witness the moments before the unexpected. We decided to watch, of course.
Sadly, the end of the story is anticlimactic. We stood across the street as the texting lad and the old woman met face to face at the corner of the building, and unfortunately violence did not ensue. I'm not sure what we were hoping would happen, but I think we both honestly believed it would be epic; like Godzilla or the idea of dividing by zero. As it turns out, they stopped, regarded each other, and he let her pass while he continued to text.
I convey this story not to put you to sleep (though I'm sure I've done an admirable job of that), but to bring up a very important loophole in Rule #1. Both of the people in the example above were, in fact, Hugging the Rail. Had I been walking behind either the kid or the older woman in the same direction they were, I would have been pleased as punch that there was plenty of room to pass. She being elderly, and he texting, I'm sure I walk faster than them both, and would have been grateful they were so self aware as to allow that kind of space next to them.
However, they bumped into each other. If I had been hurtling near the corner and someone else had been hurtling towards the same corner, we could have broken each other's noses, or worse, someone could have seen us break each other's noses.
And so, it is here now, in this very post, that I tell you the secret of making sure this doesn't happen. It's something you can do while abiding Rule #1, and it's a flawless way to make sure you don't literally run into anyone on a blind corner. The only requirement is as much self awareness as the kid and the woman in the example above exhibited.
SOLUTION: Flick your wrist. Of course, you should have something in your hand at the time, otherwise it's less effective and more spasmodic. As you approach said corner, if you are appropriately hugging the rail (walking closely to the side of the building), make sure your hand passes the corner before the rest of you. I frequently do this while holding a newspaper or kenken puzzle, but anything (cell phone, ipod, fake dance move) works well for this purpose. If you just flick your wrist and put your hand out in front of you as you approach a blind corner, the person coming around the bend will stop prior to calamity. That fraction of a second could mean the difference between an awkward moment between you and a stranger and an awkward moment between you and a stranger that someone and his fiancé across the street saw.
Extra points for making it look like a normal part of your gait and not letting it bother you that 99.9% of the time there's no one around the corner at all.