Ozzie in Oregon

You know you're in the US when ...

You walk on the right

Last updated:    January 12, 2008 (PST)

Keep right!

Keep right!

Yes, of course keeping right applies to driving on the roads over here, but did you ever think that it also applies when you are walking on the footpath, er, sidewalk? And anywhere else where there are people walking in both directions?

If I had to name one Ozzie ingrained habit that gives me the most grief, it is that we (and Kiwis too, I believe) automatically walk on the left or move to the left when passing people coming the opposite direction. Yep, exactly as though we were all little cars driving along the roads in Oz.

I first became aware of it in September 2003 in Mexico after the first couple of days, when Steve pointed out that I was mucking up pedestrian traffic by going against the flow.  It would began to frustrate him as I continually did it, even after being reminded.  Eventually, he'd just mention that it was "their country", and I'd realise I had moved to the left yet again.

However, not only do you "keep right" on the sidewalks, but also in shops, er, stores, and even in our house. I was surprised to find that our dog walks on the right, too!

If you want to get past someone going the same way over here ,you should move to the left to get around them, just as you do on the roads.

Ozzie mixups

At the local gym when I forget on my way in or out of the change rooms, those coming my way apologise (by saying "Excuse me" as they do over here) for bumping into me. After two years I have started to add,  "My fault" to the automatic Ozzie "Sorry!" that pops out of my mouth.

In February 2007 Steve and I went to Trader Joes' grand opening. I was looking for the candy aisle, so after entering the store we walked all the way over to the left side before starting to walk down the aisles. We found that we were fighting shopping trolleys from the word go. It was so awkward that we had to give up and walk down the aisles the American way. I find that nearly all supermarkets, er, grocery stores are laid out to accommodate the American walking pattern, but for some reason Winco is set up the Aussie way!

In December 2006 I decorated a gingerbread house for Christmas at a workshop at Safeway. I decided to add a front door, complete with doorknob. When I brought it home, Steve told me I'd put the doorknob on the wrong side!

Where I come from...

Over here...

front door of Oz gingerbread house     front door of Oz house front door of US house     front door of Mexican business

Where I still get caught

Ozzie in Oregon