DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I walk almost daily. During this coronavirus shelter-in-place time, there are many more people out walking.
Our understanding is that you walk facing traffic. However, many people are walking with traffic. When we encounter them, we always move away to give the proper social distancing, and they sometimes look at us like we are the protocol violators.
Are we? Can you please educate us (and them) on the proper side of the road to walk on?
GENTLE READER: If you are walking in the street itself, moving six feet away would put you smack into the middle of traffic. This is not a good idea -- even now, when there are fewer cars on the road. Miss Manners hopes you will find a safer path.
On sidewalks, moving over six feet would also go into traffic on one side, or onto someone’s property on the other. So it is incumbent on both parties to move, three feet each.
But how do you encourage others to do their part? Well, not by shouting, “Move!” with or without expletives. Discourtesy only adds to the distress.
First, you move as far as you safely can. Then smile and perform the gesture that a theatrical headwaiter would use to accompany his saying, “This way, please, madam, sir.” It is an arm swing, with open palm and the arm moving from a vertical position to a horizontal one.
Practice, and do not omit the unctuous smile. People do not shoot accusing looks at headwaiters.