Feature

Editor's Letter: Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome (PAS)

I didn’t know it had a name, or that there were others like me, until I saw myself described in The Wall Street Journal the other day.

The first step in confronting a problem, I’m told, is to admit you have one. So let’s go on with it: I suffer from Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome. I didn’t know it had a name, or that there were others like me, until I saw myself described in The Wall Street Journal the other day. People with PAS, psychologists tell the Journal, walk on crowded city sidewalks in a very brisk and directed manner, and have zero patience for those who dawdle or, worse yet, stop short to read or respond to a text. When idiots—I should say, fellow pedestrians—do impede our progress, we dodge among the dawdlers like halfbacks, muttering insults and fantasizing about violence. At times, says psychologist Leon James, we even display “a mean face’’ as we rush past. It’s all true. The shame, the shame.

One is never “cured’’ of PAS, of course; one can only enter into a process of continuing recovery. In that spirit, it might help me not relapse if stupid laggards—that is, my fellow pedestrians—followed some simple, commonsense rules. First off, please note that sidewalks, like highways, have lanes—not marked by white lines, I admit, but lanes nonetheless. So please do not drift across the sidewalk without checking over your shoulder. You very likely are in my way. And for God’s sake, do not just stop short, like a car suddenly braking in traffic, every time some pointless text or tweet or call pings your phone. Pull over to the side! Or something awful might happen. I might even display my “mean face,’’ and we both don’t want that to happen, do we?

William Falk

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