John B Keane: Careless walker’s trail of destruction

THE WORLD is full of people who never look where they are going. Only last week, I witnessed an accident which arose from this sort of carelessness.

THE WORLD is full of people who never look where they are going. Only last week, I witnessed an accident which arose from this sort of carelessness.

A young woman wearing a green coat was knocked by a go-car. The occupant of the go-car was a young chap of two.

The driver was a young lady of ten. It was the fault neither of the passenger nor the driver.

The young woman in the green coat walked up the street with her head in the air, looking sideways enviously at another young woman who sat behind the wheel of a new two-toned car.

She walked straight into the go-car and fell over it.

In doing so, she up-ended the driver and knocked the eight ounce bottle from the hands of the passenger.

The passenger protested but was mollified when the driver handed him his bottle.

The lady in the green coat picked herself up and proceeded up the street without as much as a glance behind her.

But don’t get the idea that she had learned her lesson and was looking in front of her. No, indeed for immediately afterwards she walked straight into a small boy who was eating an ice-cream.

The ice-cream jumped from its cone and turned itself into a pancake on the street.

The woman in the green coat, however, failed to stop at the scene of the accident nor could she have seen the woebegone expression on the small boy’s face as he beheld his empty cone.

He decided against scraping the ice-cream from the pavement and instead followed the woman up the street.

“You’re after spillin’ my ice cream”, he shouted at her.

But so busy was she and so engrossed was she with herself that she failed to notice him.

Even when he flung the cone at her, she carried on as if nothing had happened.

Now all of us, at one time or another, have suffered collisions passing shop doors or coming out of shop doors. This is one of the acceptable hazards of pedestrian traffic.

No matter how careful we may be emerging from shops there is always someone in a blind hurry waiting for us.

The same thing applies as we pass shop doors.

There is always someone in a blind hurry coming out. In this respect we are inclined to blame small boys but these are always barely able to avoid collision.

They may give you the fright of your life, but they will miss you by a hair’s breadth, for to them belongs the art of the near miss, and we have nobody but ourselves to blame if we bump into them.

When one suddenly emerges from a door hotly pursued by another, the thing to do is to close your eyes and hope for the best. You will always find that you have just narrowly missed being hit.

The woman in the green coat, unconscious of the trail of damage she had left behind her, was moving smartly down the street again.

She brushed swiftly past an old gentleman who staggered but quickly recovered by catching the window bar of the shop front.

Some people looked at him accusingly, as if he were intoxicated.

He is so bewildered that he stands for a while catching his breath. The woman in the green coat is moving so swiftly that he does not know what caused him to stagger.

She stops further down to look at a shop window, and in turning away from it gives another window gazer a belt in the midriff with her message bag. She bumps at least two other people before she brakes quickly to enter a shop.

Of course, there is somebody coming out, but the green-coated woman takes a sharp right-hand turn, nevertheless quickly changing into third gear with her head still in the air.

A cry of surprise and pain from another young woman, who is emerging with a message bag full of groceries.

They collide head on, but the woman with the green coat has the edge. She weighs about 12 stone, whereas the other party has nothing but the diminutive chassis of a bubble-car.

Down goes the bubble-car and on goes the green coat, who by this time I am comparing to a five-ton truck.

The unfortunate woman with the message bag full of groceries picks herself up, only to find that her assailant is by now half-way down the street, with two near misses and another hit to her credit in the meantime.

Two men, one old and plump, the other young and plump are hoisting a bag of flour between them.

Their object is to place it in a horse-drawn car, which stands a few feet away.

“Ready?” says the old man.

“Let her go,” says the young man.

This is a delicate operation, which requires considerable practice and timing.

Just as they are about to swing the sack, the older man is hit by the woman in the green coat.

He is swung around, but he still holds the sack. So does the younger man. Both stagger several paces, pulling the sack this way and that.

Finally the young man leaves go and the older man, together with the sack, land together against a telephone pole ten yards away.

The older man shouts at the young man, and the younger man shouts back, blaming the older man.

Meanwhile, the woman with the green coat, like Hurricane Betsy, is still bent on destruction. She wants to cross to the other side of the street, but does she look up or down?

What a hope!

She crosses with her head in the air. There is a loud agonising screech of brakes, and the driver of the car bumps his forehead off the windscreen.

He lowers his window and shouts after the woman. She ignores him, but he shouts again, louder this time.

I would be lacking in politeness if I quoted him word for word.

The woman in the green coat turns and shakes a fist at him.

“Why don’t you get a pair of glasses?” she calls, and without further comment she carries on down the street with her head high in the air and her message-bag swinging wildly like the battle-axe of the berserk.