I am a road hog. A big aggressive road hog, with some serious road rage.
With my big black stroller.
Years ago, when I first moved to Sweden, I had a friend who complained fiercely about the convoys of strollers cruising down the sidewalks of the inner city. Mostly moms, the drivers plowed forth, sending you diving into the street or a snowbank, as they chatted on their way to drink lattes at the nearest chic cafe (“latte mom” is an au courant phrase in Swedish).
I agreed. It was ridiculous. And at the grocery store, it was even worse. You feared for your life in the narrow aisles of an inner city grocery store.
Well, now I have two kids. I have two strollers. I am often just a little stressed out when walking with the stroller – you know, someone is hungry or tired or I am hungry or tired.
And I cannot imagine that a single pedestrian, with no dependents, has anywhere near my claim to speed and the sidewalk.
So I plow forth. I tailgate. I run into the street to aggressively pass slow walkers. I plow through snow banks.
And God help you if I have a whining baby in the grocery store and can see a short checkout line.
Some of this is mitigated by the well established fact that many Swedes have no real concept on how to negotiate personal space and walking speed in a city. People walk on your heels or they just stop in the middle of the sidewalk suddenly to talk. They halt in the doors of subway cars or at the top of escalators. And despite years of experience in the narrow aisles of grocery stores, there is no moving to the side, no easing around people. There is a lot of stopping and staring.
I get mad just thinking about it.
I am often saved by the old people. The stores and sidewalks are filled with older people with walkers going super slow. But I cannot be mad at the old people. I love that in Råsunda people can live independently, not stuck out in some senior complex. I admire them for pushing through the winter to tool around the store with their walkers. And old people are approximately 765,438 times nicer to my children than younger or middle aged people.
So when I get stuck behind a walker, I just take a deep breath and try to center myself and look at the baby.
And that is good.