I’ve found myself dabbling in the dangerous art of reading while walking on the way to work. I’ve noticed a lot of internet chatter about keeping this activity (or Readwalking, as its known) within the safety of our own homes or, if it must be done outside, only in small ghost towns. My commute to work on the underground, during London’s rush hour is far from a quiet stroll down a lonely country lane. To my eyes the lonely country lanes present far greater problems. The unexpected approach of a tree or a sudden dip in the gravel path could completely tarnish what should be a calm and well-rehearsed route to work.
Like ants, most rush hour commuters are highly skilled at crowded commuting, getting from one platform to the other by following the stream created by a leader, dodging various people coming in opposite directions and all the while respecting others personal space, although that last bit can often prove futile.
Photo source: fuckyeahreading
Hot Tip: To effectively Readwalk one must have excellent spatial awareness and peripheral vision.
Unfortunately and unlike ants, humans have yet to master pheromone excretion as guidance whilst heads are bowed and minds are busy with Christian Grey’s lavish fantasies. However, if your peripheral vision is up to scratch you might just be able to tail-gate the commuter in front of you. Be warned, unless you check where said commuter is headed you may end up in Mill Hill East rather than St. Paul’s. Or worse you might end up in an endless death spiral like these poor fellas.
Before I took up this dare-devil habit my commute to work was a horribly rushed, cramped and grumpy experience but now my 45 minute journey is one of blissful escapism. It sets me up for the whole day, the sharp edges have been snipped from the wrapper of life and no matter how dreadful my Monday Blues is I look forward to my Readwalking session.
So far I have had no mishaps and no anger directed towards me, I am a considerate Readwalker, I awaken myself to the reality of my surroundings at crucial moments (stairs, getting on and off tube, tourists), I stay completely aware of who is around me and where they are going. It does get confusing, however, when people suspect me of total blindness and get out of my way when I’m actually ahead of the game and get out of their way as well. We do the awkward getting-in-each-others-way dance. But that’s only happened once.
Photo source: fuckyeahreading
You might be reading this and thinking, ‘Readwalking? Ant Death Spiral? How did we even get here?’
Well, as I was happily Readwalking to work this morning, a man turned towards me, (even while Readwalking I can sense sideways glances – this just illustrates my advanced Readwalking abilities) at which I immediately stopped and recoiled in expectation of some onslaught from an unknown and grumpy morning commuter.
Instead came the inquisitive, ‘How do you do that without bumping into anyone?’
I replied ‘I just got skills.’
He laughed and went on his way, bookless.
I’m now kicking myself at my amateur and teenage response, which was probably, more accurately, pronounced ‘Coz I got skillz.’ If only I had merely managed the words ‘peripheral’ or ‘pheromone’, he’d have understood I was in fact some sort of superwoman with reading powers beyond this
world universe. For as a mere man, his multi-tasking abilities get him no further than being able to walk. He had to stop walking to talk to me.