Hiba

Lack of street etiquette brings walk to end, dampens mood

Apr 2 • Opinion • 33

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He slows down his footsteps, eyes that perfect spot on the sidewalk – either adjacent to him or a few steps away – tilts his head back and from his mouth comes that big chunk of gooey white…spit.

“What a beautiful scene; this just made my walk a little more beautiful,” said nobody, ever.

Walking up or down streets may be a simple task – one might even do it out of enjoyment. However, that enjoyment is immediately reduced, ruined and transformed to ashes when one person in front of you decides to take the sidewalk or street as his personal garbage bin.

Street etiquette is a topic held in low regard among people in the world. I know we don’t live in utopia or some over-sophisticated city, but all I’m wishing for is proper handling of one’s self in public streets.

I know I probably sound like a snob, but my intentions are in the right place. Keeping the streets clean – even from something as seemingly harmless as spit – is something that lies on all of our shoulders.

Unspoken manners pedestrians share and abide by should not only be exclusive to not littering, sharing the sidewalk, walking on the right and trying not to bump into people, they should also include not spitting, at least.

Somebody is probably chuckling right now thinking I am not aware that perhaps every inch of ground I walk on was the destination of a careless spit from somebody, but I do. I also know that streets are full of other contaminants and disturbances, and that’s just the way it is.

The fact that streets are dirty is not the sole reason of my annoyance. Actually witnessing the event happen is what irritates me.

In addition to it being a mere bother, I would argue that spitting in the street is a form of littering. Just because it’s liquid and it’s bound to evaporate, doesn’t mean it’s not a destructive disturbance.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

In September 2013, a court in the United Kingdom asserted that pedestrians who spit in the street can be fined 80 euros on-the-spot, equivalent to a little bit more than $110.

This probably sounds insane to you, but it sounds magical to me.

The United Kingdom wasn’t the only country to take extreme measures against street-manner violators. Take Singapore, for example, which outlawed the sale of chewing gum because people just threw it on the streets and in “hidden” places.

As I read this to my friend, he told me he thought the country, reputable for its cleanliness, sounded like a “prison.” I, however, said I wished I lived there. The main argument against this law would be that it is a clear invasion of freedom and personal choices, and it is. But it also ensures the cleanliness and beauty of a city without costing the resident a dime.

I can’t help but wonder how the world would look like if, in fact, streets were empty of chewing gum, litter and, most importantly, spit.

 

HIBA ALMASRI

almasri002@knights.gannon.edu

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