Hey you kids, get off my walkway!
December 29, 2011 5:01 AM Subscribe
Which pedestrians move aside while passing? When pedestrians walking at approximately equal strolling speeds in opposite directions are on a collision course, assuming each has a clear path to move aside, who yields? Help me not be THAT PERSON at the mall.
Every time I go to a mall, I'm faced with a big gap in my social understanding. This isn't a big life rattling issue, but it puzzles me. I don't like not understanding. Oh, and I also don't like running into people... but I'm not particularly fond of being ignored, either.
I've always thought that each oncoming pedestrian would move SOME (roughly just over half the required clearance distance), avoid a collision, and carry on. This has worked well for most of my life... everyone automatically adjusts their paths a bit, traffic flows on. Recently, though, I've had the experience of having to halt abruptly (if not outright crashing), or performing some semi-acrobatic twisting to avoid a collision, with the other party looking outright indignant that I didn't move entirely out of her/his way.
What's the deal? Am I missing social cues? If so, which one? I'd understand if this was people walking in a group chatting, parents tending kids, etc., where one would expect a certain amount of diminished crowd awareness, but these are individuals (or sometimes two people walking together) who clearly see me coming; sometimes I'm walking with my teen son. They just expect me to get out of their way. Why?
I experimented one time to see if the reverse would also be expected: I just walked ahead without yielding partially, and sure enough nobody leaped out of MY way. Face-to-face halt with the other person peeved that I hadn't moved.
I don't slouch when I walk or send out what I'd construe as passive signals. On the other hand, I'm not a fashion maven and wear comfortable shoes. Am I sending out a message that I'm the more submissive primate without knowing it? I've noticed that the non-movers tend to be younger than I am: is my over-40 female status rendering me less socially visible? What am I missing here?