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Monday, November 03, 2014

Caveat Ambulator

Oh no! I've fallen over while using my phone!

Regular readers of the Mermaid's rants will know that one of her pet hates is people who do not look where they are going. Whether it is because they are simply letting their imaginations wander down tangled forest paths or because they are wrapped up in a newspaper, I get frustrated when their meanderings end up with near-collisions.

Recently - over the past few years I should say - my very British tutting, sighing and sometimes foot-tapping has been reserved for the moble phone gazers. People who are spending far too much time attempting to answer a text or finish a message on facebook, and thus spending far too little time paying attention to the road.

I've narrowly avoided an umbrella spike to the upper body unmentionables this week, because a man was engrossed in what looked like a BBC news interview with Jeremy Hunt. Now I have nothing against Jeremy Hunt as a person. But if his ferrety little face prevents someone from paying attention to what they are doing with a steel-point umbrella, then I do take issue with it.

Last week, a woman on the phone, with pushchair afore her and a toddler behind her, didn't notice her child was attempting to get back onto the train, because she was too busy telling "Kaneesha" that "If he thinks that I am going to sit down and take it just because she's my sister, then he's got another think coming."

And not to mention the innumerable times common-sense commuters have been held up at the ticket barrier because people in front have been absorbed by erudite textual conversations, such as "what are we having for dinner tonite" "Pizza" "OMD we had that last night u gtb laffing. U got jokes". Yes I was reading it over his shoulder. No, he didn't get his train pass out in time and we all waited behind him patiently. Sort of patiently. There was a lot of tutting. It was me.

Having ranted on many occasions about this perambulatory phenomenon, I was glad to find my gripes justified by claims statistics this week.

According to a pan-European study from SquareTrade, the majority of phone-damage incidents in the UK and elsewhere have occured because people were Wexting - the word I have coined to refer to "Walking and Texting".

The study also claimed 86 per cent of Britons have tripped, stumbled, walked into a lampost or wall because they were distracted by their mobile devices. As someone who has been often frustrated at every corner by an oblivious walker, I am not surprised by the statistic, but I am somewhat disappointed that I have never witnessed immediate Karma. It would be so good to say "I told you so", even if I hadn't actually told anyone so, unless a sharp London "tchah" and kissing my teeth counts. (It doesn't, apparently).

However for all those who, like me, wish for the good old days when people watched where they were going, and left poor lamposts and walls to mind their business without being walked into, we can take some comfort.

The SquareTrade study has revealed that, in a league table of mobile mishaps (yes, this is a thing and I have seen it), the Mediterranean countries are the worst offenders.

Greece, Italy and Spain have "the clumsiest mobile phone users in Europe".

The UK is only ranked sixth in this Darwinian table. Out of 12 countries, you can probably guess which country came in last - Germany. There's probably a law against using a phone while walking. I know there's a law against wearing a mask in public unless it's specifically on a known holiday. I can't tell you how I know this, but suffice it to say that my career as Spiderwoman didn't go anywhere after a stopover in Munich.

Quoted by SquareTrade were several dumbnuts, I mean, survey respondents, who detailed their mobile-related injuries. My two favourites.... with my commentary

“I have walked into a low-hanging tree branch and almost knocked myself out while tweeting.”
Birds have been tweeting since the dawn of time, and they are surprisingly good at not hitting their heads on branches. There is no excuse for you!

“I walked into a shop window and I’ve also fallen over using my phone”
TWICE? This person is a repeat offender? How far down the IQ spectrum do you have to be to achieve such moronity - twice! Walking into a shop window is stunning enough; wouldn't you be doubly cautious the next time you are texting and walking outside of the safety of one's own padded cell? I guess not.

I can only hope they live in Greece. Because if they live in the UK, I'm going to have to emigrate to Germany. With or without my mask.

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