The Power of the Pram

Let me introduce you to one of my pet peeves.

I hate walking in crowded or semi-crowded areas. Places like busy shopping malls or shopping streets are the bane of my life. If I want to get anything new to wear or to purchase gifts, then I grit my teeth and ready my “Om” mantra for the journey.

What do I hate about these areas, you ask?

My fellow pedestrians.

Or to be more accurate, the local chapter of “MeFirstites”.
I’m sure you know who I mean. These are the shoppers who appear to have an unshakeable belief that they have full rights to the footpath and that you should step aside for them. They also appear in groups, sometimes two or three wide ensuring that the only place left for walking is going to be the shop doorway or the road.

You may now be asking yourself why I feel the need to mention this peeve.
Well, I’ve spent the last nine months being pregnant. Towards the end I figured that the fat belly would be an indication to other pedestrians that I was an expectant mother. I was rather hopeful that having the extra passenger on board would mean that there would be a improvement in the MeFirstites vision and that I would no longer have to engage in repeated speedy sideways shuffles.
As it turns out, pregnancy matters not a jot to the MeFirstites.

I have spoken about manners before, or rather the lack of them, so this whole dodgems thing is just another one of those things that gets my goat as a manners freak.

The question that this lack of awareness of pregnant women walking down the road raises for me, and it has only been raised over the past two days, is why does pushing a pram make a difference to people?

We have taken a stroll down to our local shopping street two days in a row now. This is to enable me to get out of the house and get a bit of very gentle exercise.
We have two roundabouts along the main street, neither of which has a pedestrian crossing anywhere within 500 metres. They have little traffic islands on each entry road into which pedestrians can walk and huddle for protection as they attempt to cross the roads.

These streets are reasonably busy, as both roundabouts link to commercial areas or lead to a motorway on/off ramp. Normally it takes a bit of timing and patience to cross, since Auckland drivers are not known for their courtesy or care.
Apparently waving a green pram in front of them does something strange to even the most die hard of Auckland drivers. I kid you not. I feel that someone at a university should set up a study about this phenomenon. Green Pram = Brain Explosions in Auckland Drivers.

What do the drivers do that is so unusual?

They stop.

Yes. I said, they stop.

In the middle of the roundabout.

With traffic behind them.

With traffic waiting for them to move on through.

With no regard whatsoever for the other road users who might not have Green Pram visions.

Personally I think they’re all mad. It’s not like I’m standing there waving them down or anything. Is it possible that green prams work on driver’s brains in the same way as waving a red cape at a bull works for a Matador?
Mr OhWaily doesn’t care, he thinks that it’s a bloody good thing and that we should take advantage of it at all opportunities. In fact, he has mentioned that it does seem a shame that we did not know that this was the case earlier. Somehow he feels we could have been pushing the Green Pram around with a soft toy (or the grocery shopping) for some time and gaining all of these unexpected benefits. Yes, I can see us now…

Innocent Bystander: “Oh, how lovely, do you have a boy or a girl?”
Mr OhWaily: “Actually it’s a pound of steak, but a great traffic stopper, thanks.”

I have no idea why this works, but it does. And it goes some way to making up for my pregnant pedestrian dodgems, so all I can say to you is…

“Beware the Power of the Pram.”


The Green Pram also seems to bring out the best manners in prepubescent boys riding scooters. They appear to remember that scootering through people in a narrow space is not in the spirit of Good Manners. Now if only I could bottle this phenomenon, I’m sure I could become a millionaire.

2 thoughts on “The Power of the Pram

  1. Your countrymen seem to be more mannerly with pram pushers than mine were.
    Many years ago, when I was at the pram/buggy pushing stage of life, it used to really irritate me that people walked across my bows. They didn’t seem to realise just how fast I was travelling and I frequently had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting them.
    Maybe I should’ve had scythes attached to the wheels, a la Boudicca, and just mown them down? 😀

    I’ve always felt that pavements in cities should have lanes. A slow one for those who are not in a hurry and a fast one for those who don’t want to dilly-dally.
    My husband was having a rant about this yesterday. He works in central London which is packed with tourists at this time of the year, none of whom have a clue where they are or where they’re going. Not their fault – they don’t know the city. We reckoned passing places – or dithering spots – in addition to the pavement lanes would keep everyone happy.


  2. I quite like your idea of the Boudicca chariot wheels of death – might keep that innovation in reserve for our first visit to a crowded shopping mall. 😉

    As for pedestrian lanes, I can remember the dim dark ages when I was a youngster going into “the city” with my mother. The main street had an unwritten rule that if you were window shopping or intending to enter a shop you walked on one particular side of the footpath in one direction, and if you were going about your business you walked on the other side of the same footpath going in the other direction (rather like road traffic).

    I long for those days and manners to reappear sometimes ! Things were orderly and people were less obnoxious (or so it seemed).


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