Recently a new kind of pest has invaded downtown Columbus. Even though the pests are an obvious annoyance, and pose a significant health risk to downtown workers, the city has not yet taken effective action against the infestation.
I’m talking about skateboarders. They’ve appeared, as suddenly as the 17-year cicadas, on the sidewalks of downtown Columbus. And like the cicadas they seem to travel in dense, buzzing packs, all wearing carefully calculated outfits designed to make them stand out from the office workers in their boring business clothing. Of course, the skateboarder outfits are as much a uniform as those worn by the parking valets at the downtown hotels — they are just uniforms intended to make the skateboarders look as lanky and tragically hip as possible.
Walking into a sidewalk skateboarding zone is a royal pain in the butt. You never know if you are going to turn a corner and encounter a cluster of skateboarders barreling in your direction, getting ready to jump the curb or try to skid their skateboard along a low railing or a step up into a building. And when you do find yourself in that predicament, there is no good option for the pedestrian. You can freeze in place, and hope the skateboarders take some action to avoid you, or you can try to get the heck out of the way — which isn’t easy to do because skateboarders don’t use sidewalks like normal people do and might have an ultimate destination in mind that I can’t begin to identify.
And then, of course, there’s the ‘tude radiating from every skateboarder in the pack. They all project the feeling that they’re the coolest thing on the hot downtown street. Whether it’s the foot stomp on the rear deck of the skateboard to make it flip into the air where it can be oh-so-casually caught, or the jumps and moves and skids, the ‘boarders crave your attention. They think we all have a deep hidden desire to roll free on our own skateboards, when in reality we’re just irritated that posers using a toy that most people stopped using when they were 13 have invaded our space and put us at risk of a collision. We just want to know why the skateboarders can’t just stick to skateparks and the parking lots of high schools that are closed for the summer and instead have decided it would be a huge kick to try to weave between people walking back to their downtown offices after lunch.
At least the 17-year cicadas are only here for a few weeks.