I noticed this article from Conde Nast Traveler on LinkedIn today. It seemed like an intriguing idea, especially since I had an international trip coming up and I work in travel. Then I got to one particular sentence part of the way through and I was floored:
“Don’t let yourself get stuck walking behind someone poky.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the airport, walking to/through the security line or trying to make my way up the exit ramp(s) to get into the airport from off of the plane and had people rush around me or just flat out cut in front of me because I’m not walking fast enough (even when I move over to the right getting off the plane). I’ve had people flat out jump under and over the queue ropes just to get in front of me. So by Conde Nast’s definition, I’m a “poky” person.
Perhaps I’m overly sensitive, but I tweeted feverishly back at them that perhaps that “poky” person in front has a disability and can’t walk any faster. Perhaps that person has been used to being picked last for everything in life because she’s slow. Perhaps that person used to fall in the hallways at school and people used to just walk around her. Perhaps she’s spent her whole life always trying to keep up with people. Perhaps when every time someone did that, she felt like she wasn’t good enough. And now you’re telling people in the interest of their time, to just go around them hurriedly because they’re going too slow.
I know they probably didn’t mean to imply what I’m saying but that almost makes it worse. Hanya Yanagihara, who wrote the article, didn’t even think about why someone might be walking slowly or that people who are “poky” might have a reason for that. It’s just not a compassionate thing to say period.
After my car accident, I spent most of the year being super angry because everyone seemed to think their time was more important, as the driver did who hit me. You never know who you might affect when you think that way. Obviously none of us are perfect and even I am guilty of this. But you just never know what might happen if you’re rushing. You might hit someone in your car. Or that “poky” person in front you might feel a giant pit in their stomach when they see you rushing past them because that’s something they’ve had to deal with their whole life. So I just have a really big problem with anything encouraging that type of behavior. So what if you have to spend 30 minutes in customs instead of 12? Maybe stopping and smelling the roses instead of being in a giant rush might actually do you some good.
All I’m asking, Conde Nast (and other publications) is for some sensitivity. Not just about people that are differently-abled but about people in general. Life is short but not so short that we need to completely disregard one another and worry only about doing this quickly or getting through that line so we don’t waste our own valuable time. Think about how your actions might affect others too, and stop to enjoy life. Because it’s so short, you might as well breathe in every last moment, even if you’re spending it in an international customs line. Life is about the journey, not the destination…even when you’re traveling.