September 1, 2005 Urban Word of the Day
An awkward situation in which two pedestrians, who are on a collision course with each other, are repeatedly unsuccessful in averting one another. As one person moves to their right, the other person moves to their left and vice versa. Each time they attempt a new maneuver, the frustrated pedestrians find themselves confronted by their counterpart. To the casual observer, these two people may appear to be dancing, but in reality, they both just want to get on with their lives.
These encounters are far less common in Europe – especially in Germany, where the government enforces pedestrian decorum through a stringent "bear right" policy. Pedestrian face-offs have been known to last upwards of ten seconds.
Randy: I just had a pedestrian face-off that lasted a good 15 seconds. In the end, we came to the mutual agreement that both of us should step to our right.
Dina: Wow, 15 seconds?! That's gotta be a world record or something.
This happens a lot to Americans who come on holiday in Australia, because we drive on the left and walk on the left of the footpath (sidewalk). Our first reaction is to dodge left when Americans' is to dodge right.
Local: "I just had a pedestrian face-off with another stupid yank."
Returned ex-pat: "They're not stupid, mate, they're just different."
Local: "Well, they fully talk stupid!"