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?
posted by theplotchickens to Human Relations (40 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
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?

They're assholes.

There really aren't any black-and-white social codes for this kind of thing -- when it comes to "who moves out of the way," it's actually more like a pedestrian game of "chicken".

However, I'd say that maybe your only moving a tiny bit that may be raising eyebrows -- I've gotten a little miffed once or twice on occasions when I've clearly got a large number of packages, bags, or am otherwise obviously and visibly encumbered, and someone only takes a half-step aside. It's like, "take a good look at me -- do you really think that's all the extra room I need?" Sometimes, if I'm trying to pass by them and squeeze through a door, I've actually said "bless you for thinking I'm that skinny, but I do need a bit more room to pass, please?" So my own personal code apparently is "the person who is least burdened moves the most because it's easier for them", but that's a rule that's only in my head. Everyone else has rules in their own heads, and we all just sorta muddle along.

But yeah, the people who don't get out of your way at all are just being assholes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 AM on December 29, 2011 [13 favorites]

If you always move to the side when someone's approaching, then you

a. never run into anyone, and
b. never have to deal with the jockeying or weird looks.

Seems like a win to me!

(People who DON'T move are flat out being rude - either because they are not paying attention to where they are going, are doing some weird dominance power-play, or are just assholes. If you don't play into it, then you don't have to deal with it.)
posted by ella wren at 5:23 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

It varies by culture (moving through crowds in Japan is different from moving through crowds in California), but what I've picked up:

- Broadcasting that you are aware that one of you has to move, often puts the onus on you to do the moving, since you've effectively acknowledged that you're the one who knows it has to be done, while the other maintains a state of innocence.

- Conversely, broadcasting that you are unaware of the oncoming person will signal to them that they should move - usually without conscious thought. Even so, not yielding even slightly is pushing it (at least where I am).

- Looking where you are going (where you intend to walk)
a. tells the oncoming person whether they'll need to avoid you
b. how to best avoid you if they'll need to.
c. keeps you in your own world, (ie not acknowledging the oncoming person and accepting the entire responsibility to move, sharing or keeping the onus on them.)

- I think this is a western preference, but it is preferable to make a small adjustment (in direction) from a distance rather than a large one up close. (Hmm, perhaps part of this is additional plausible deniability - making the adjustment without acknowledging that you need to?)

- There will be exceptions and breakdowns. Some people are distracted. Some people are clueless. Some people are shopping for Christmas presents in the final week of Christmas, and all social order has long since left the building.

- Recently in the blue

TL;DR - look where you're going, don't signal that you know someone is oncoming or that you know you have to move, but subconsciously move a little bit anyway. And when you do move, just subtly alter trajectory from a distance where possible, rather than wait until you end up in their face.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:28 AM on December 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, I feel your pain. I have had people careering into me with full shopping trolleys at the supermarket and then tut because I obviously somehow must have WANTED them to run into me by the sheer fact of sharing the same approximate area of supermarket ... I agree, it's poor manners. Or the arrogance of youth. Or extreme short-sightedness. Or severe distration ... I don't think it's you, is what I'm saying; I don't think it can be anything you're broadcasting. I think we are just operating in a more frenzied time and place, where people are less willing / able to express those little social niceties like making an effort to step aside. I suppose if you wanted to take the moral high ground here, you could make a very obvious effort to allow them the right of way, with a big smile on your face and a hearty "After you!" - being the more polite one will make you feel better, it's a conscious choice you've made to not allow yourself to feel pushed aside because you allowed them the right of way and they might just remember your actions when next they are flying through a supermarket with a big trolley ...
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:34 AM on December 29, 2011

I forgot to add:

Am I sending out a message that I'm the more submissive primate without knowing it?

I don't think so, no. My feeling is that it's not a submission thing (at least not as long as you haven't looked each other in the eye, and not doing that is the norm), I think it's mostly a practical thing.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:34 AM on December 29, 2011

Always step aside.

If they don't also move aside, just quietly judge them and move on. They're dicks.
posted by molecicco at 5:35 AM on December 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

The rule is that there is no rule. Ideally you should walk as you drive. For us Americans walk on the right side, dunno if it is different in the Imperial countries? While this is a good rule of thumb it works in practice about half the time. If you can move out of the way do it. If you are on a collision course and are blocked then stop. If you want to squeeze through then angle your upper body to lessen the impact unless you want to give your opponent a body-check.

Most times you should be able to plan your route to avoid the window shoppers in a mall. If you really want to be obstinate talk on your cell phone and abruptly stop in front of the oncoming walkers whilst ignoring them completely.
posted by JJ86 at 5:38 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

To be fair I wouldn't call them dicks or assholes. In Spain I ran into this phenomenon quite a bit while I tried to walk only on the right side of the walk. It was a cross section of people from groups to old ladies to kids. I had to rethink my cultural rules and adjust them somewhat. There is no point about getting angry with an old lady that doesn't move out of your way and looks at you strangely for not moving out of her way. The same goes for anyone.

Smile and move on.
posted by JJ86 at 5:43 AM on December 29, 2011

One of the reasons I love Thomas Schelling's work is that he takes simple social interactions like this, explains the elements of strategy and decision-making involved, and applies the conclusions to international politics. Seriously, harlequin's first two points above could be straight out of The Strategy of Conflict.
posted by brozek at 5:45 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

You're looking at the people blocking the way, aren't you? No wonder you're surprised by near collisions.

Your job as a pedestrian is to get where you're going. That mean putting yourself into the spaces between people. So aim for the ever-changing gaps, and move into them. Repeat until destination.

It helps if you're moving a bit faster than the prevailing crowd. Don't be afraid to scurry sideways suddenly. As long as you're moving forwards, that's all that matters. I'm a fast walking big dude, so I've got both the m and the v² — it's gonna hurt you if we collide. I don't want to collide with you, but if you do something boneheaded, well ...

The only hazard you've really got to watch out for in a crowd are those traily wheeled luggage things. They mean that the user takes up the space of 3+ people, and often meander to the side when turning. They're the semi-trucks of the ped world, and are a hazard to all right-walking folks.
posted by scruss at 5:51 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ha! I struggle with this almost every day!
I always seem to be the one to move aside, and if there are any rules, I must have missed that class.

I would say that the majority of people are just completely unaware of the world around them, which while itself it not an acceptable excuse, probably says more about you, that you are aware, alert, and acknowledge and respect the existence of other people - and that's a good thing!

What helps me a bit, is watching how other people interact with each other. You will notice that other people will also move out of the way, and others won't to the point where they crash into each other's shoulders. But most people do move, but slightly and at the last minute.

That being said, I have challenged myself (and challenge you!) to consider that maybe some of the people whom we pass are actually moving out of the way - we just don't notice it.
posted by bitteroldman at 5:51 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Advanced class:
When a roller-skater, skateboarder, or cyclist, is on a collision course with you, the onus is on them to avoid you, and the onus is on you to keep to a predictable path so they can succeed in avoiding you.

This is important because they can be moving faster than other foot traffic, which can tempt people - who are only looking walking-speed into the future and late to awareness - to do highly unpredictable things like notice a skater at the last minute and try to jump out of the way - right into the previously-clear path the person had already shifted weight and thus committed to taking in order to safely avoid you.

Being unpredictable around faster traffic will cause accidents.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:52 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Well, make some space if you can, but do it in a predictable and not-sudden manner. Ie adjust trajectory slightly, from afar.)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:57 AM on December 29, 2011

I think these same people are super rude, and possibly oblivious. I have also noticed that if I drive overly cautiously, a little closer to the curb on the right, similar (or the same) people are more likely to come right over the yellow dividing line, which makes me completely irate. But if I am more assertive and drive properly, where I should be right on my side of the yellow line, taking a stand! for my space!, this problem almost goes away -- it's like they sense a weakness in timid driving or polite walking behavior. I have tried the "I'm the one who's not moving this time" pedestrian behavior, with mixed success.

It does really bother me as well that I'm always the one getting out of the way when someone's coming near me.
posted by theredpen at 5:57 AM on December 29, 2011

My experience, as a 66-year old woman and Seattle pedestrian (who avoids malls), is that most women make space on sidewalks, while many men "get wide" and take up more room.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:07 AM on December 29, 2011 [8 favorites]

Have you ever noticed, in a group of people, that some people are invisible? For example, after a party there will be some people you remember, and some people that you never really noticed. When I'm teaching I have to be really aware of this, because otherwise I can get to the end of the lesson with no memory of some of the students.

Some people are better than others at being visible, and some people are better than others at seeing invisible people. If you're invisible, some people are going to bump into you.

Things that you can do to become more visible include having better posture, looking confident, making eye contact with other people (when appropriate), and having a striking appearance. Dying my hair pillar box red made me more visible. Wearing smart clothes or high heels makes me MUCH more visible.
posted by emilyw at 6:11 AM on December 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

I honestly believe that most people lack a certain sense of spatial awareness when it comes to their own bodies. People almost never notice that anyone is behind them, for instance, and will stop short at any time, even if that means whoever is behind them has to do some sort of gymnastics in order to avoid crashing into them.

People stop in doorways, the tops of escalators, at the entrance to elevators, etc., and it's easy to say they're rude assholes, but I've come to understand that this is where people make movement decisions and a lot of folks have to stop for a few seconds before they can get their bodies moving again.

In terms of who gets out of the way? It's the person who notices that two people won't fit into the same space. Congratulate yourself for being that person and try to move out of the way with grace and aplomb.
posted by xingcat at 6:13 AM on December 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

I have the same problem. I attribute it to body language.

I'm a big guy with broad shoulders. However, I often walk with hands in my pockets. If I do that, people do not get out of the way. I've found swinging my arms as I walk gets people to give me some space. I figure it's because people notice the movement.

Another trick is to walk in the center of the sidewalk - take your space - and then swerve at the last moment.

Staring straight ahead works too.

However, it's a real hassle to have to remember this stuff. I figure it's because people in the small city where I live are used to driving everywhere.

Once a day I find myself actually bumping into people - especially people walking 2-abreast on the sidewalk and not getting out of the way.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:18 AM on December 29, 2011

The three rules of sidewalks (and this applies to malls, too), as learned on the streets of New York:

1. Pass on your right, to the left of the person approaching you.
2. Look into the space you are walking into.
3. Never make eye contact. This may seem unfriendly, but this is when misunderstanding happens.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:24 AM on December 29, 2011 [8 favorites]

I have two coworkers that I often go for coffee with, which involves walking either through downtown streets or the underground mall. Either way, coworker A and I are deftly making our way through the semi crowded areas with ease, while coworker B runs people to the edge of the side walk, bumps into people, or forces them to move way out of his way. He seems to be fairly oblivious to it, A and I are often heard to say something like "B! Give them some room man!". B is just a big clumsy dude who often has trouble navigating the office without banging into a coat rack or something.

I submit my anecdata as a way of saying... some folks are just kind of oblivious to all this.
posted by utsutsu at 6:27 AM on December 29, 2011

Ships have the rule of the road - when facing oncoming traffic, each turns to starboard, so that they pass each other safely. People don't have rules and anything goes. So it's give and take but usually there's some indication of how things are going to go.

Now and then you encounter someone who's body language says they expect you to do all the giving. When this happens, stop and leave it to them to get out the way. (Just make sure you're not going to get run over by someone behind you who's not expecting this.)
posted by w.fugawe at 6:40 AM on December 29, 2011

I think about this a lot. Actually, I did an observation research project on it for a class last year, and the main thing I remember was that the data I collected suggested that the majority of the time when a man and a woman are on a collision course, the woman is the one who moves.

Personally, I do that same step-half-the-necessary distance thing and expect that the other person will do the same, unless there is a clear reason for their mobility or ability to manoeuvre to be lower than mine. Recently was in a situation where the half-step was all I could do due to an obstruction and some guy walked smack into me rather than take one himself. Then he just stood there, waiting for me to move.

I have to conclude that a lot of people are frankly just rude.
posted by lwb at 6:43 AM on December 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

Ooh, I'm one of your asshole/dick/jerks! I don't always do that, of course, but it usually works. And I guess I should have added that I smile deferentially? As a lifelong pedestrian I've developed a thick skin about this sort of thing. Everyone thinks that what they're doing is the Right Thing and I feel that standing still lets them choose which way to go, avoiding the uncomfortable dance. Lord I hate that dance.

When I'm not being that asshole, I extend my arm towards the way I want to go around them. Just a my forearm, parallel to the ground, extended the way I want to go. It works if the other person is looking forward and not at their phone. Maybe give that a try?
posted by troika at 6:57 AM on December 29, 2011

A previously on the green about sidewalk behavior that you might find interesting.

I work at a university and have been noticing this behavior ever since hearing about an exercise like the one lwb mentioned (also discussed here) in a women's studies class, and I encounter it all the time walking around campus. Interestingly, I've been noticing it more frequently with young women, which I suppose should make me happy that young women are owning their space, but mostly it makes me annoyed that even fewer people know how to share a damn sidewalk.

I usually just expect that other people will not get out of the way and adjust my path accordingly, but I'm not above "accidentally" running into someone if getting out of their way would force me into mud, etc. And then I think "get off my lawn" at them.
posted by camyram at 7:01 AM on December 29, 2011

One thing to do if you see a collision coming is to just stop dead in your tracks, smile and wait.

If you're with someone sometimes the dynamics are simpler if you shift a half step back and slightly behind, not for protection but to be polite.

If you're alone and in a hurry, follow the clearest path, I was going to say look for the holes in the crowd but if you look for a hole you're reacting too late. It's kinda zen like, you 'feel' ahead for the shift of the patterns and flow through. But I'm tall which may help.

There is also the last moment twist at the shoulder, which works well if both do it simultaneously. Some of the folks you bump into may be expecting (unconsciously) for that slight twist.
posted by sammyo at 7:14 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sidewalks are like a pedestrian road. If someone is walking toward me on the wrong side, I do not move. If I realize I'm walking toward someone on the wrong side, I move instead. Make sure you're correctly following the flow of pedestrian traffic; living in a tourist-heavy city has taught me that a lot of folks simply don't understand that sidewalks (and escalators) are just like miniature roads and that a car careening down the wrong side of the road is probably going to get hit.
posted by theraflu at 7:22 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

One thing to do if you see a collision coming is to just stop dead in your tracks, smile and wait.

....But only if you know that someone isn't just a couple steps behind you, because then you run the risk of having them smack into you from behind and then they get mad at you for "why the hell'd you just stop in the middle of the path you...."

(I've got kind of an issue with people who do that, I'll admit.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:23 AM on December 29, 2011

This is like traffic. If you are on the right side in America, you are on the correct side. If you are walking on the left side, well, stop messing with the natural order!

But yes, also always move aside. It's polite and that's what your parents taught you. :P

I love the little shuffle where people move the same way I am when we're walking at each other then we shuffle the other way and end up smiling and deciding who's moving which way.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:24 AM on December 29, 2011

nthing they're rude. Oh sure, there are exceptions --- as far as I'm concerned, those with less mobility (like an old person with a walker) or small toddlers (totally oblivious to everything but Mom) are cut more slack; but folks who simply want to walk six abreast and take up the whole walkway? Jerks. And while like you, I'll move over, I do NOT consider it reasonable for me to flatten myself into a doorway or something for assholes who think they own the whole sidewalk: I'll stop in my tracks, and they can either move over themselves or walk straight into me.

(The other ones that get to me are the teenagers who try to manuever you into opening the door for them, like touching the door themselves means they lose or something....)
posted by easily confused at 7:33 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm in agreement with xingcat - about spatial awareness. You have it, or you don't. It's the people who DON'T have it that have the ability to move through traffic better, in my opinion.

My husband seems to have none - or, well, not much. I think it comes in two parts - natural inclinations and learned behaviour. He learned to drive late in life, and had problems with maintaining a steady speed, slowing to a stop at the appropriate time, blind spots and centering the car in the lane. He never pursued his license beyond his permit. At home, when we're cooking in the kitchen together, for example, he doesn't subconsciously move out of the way when I'm coming through with a hot dish or when I open the oven door. I'll say "coming through" and he'll look at me like "What am I supposed to do?!" On the sidewalk, he'll barrel through and stop suddenly to look at things, not aware that people are right behind him (his hearing issues are at play there). I call him "the uni-tasker", as in life and work, his ability to focus is incredible. I also call him "periphery-challenged", for those reasons. And, his mother was that way too - she'd stand in doorways or speed up and slow down without regard to others moving around her, and taking her shopping through crowds was like herding a kitten. My daughter has also inherited these tendencies. She doesn't pick up on cues, for example, that in moving through a narrow or crowded supermarket aisle, she needs to let go of the shopping cart and move behind me, or speed up and walk ahead of me. I need to remind her that saying "excuse me" doesn't just let people know you're moving past them, but that they need to move a wee bit too. And of the four of us, I'm the only one to feel stressed by crowds and butt-brush factors and foot traffic. I'm the one who realizes that it's rude to walk three abreast and who turns my head to see if I dodge into a store if I'll walk into someone and I get all stressed and they're fine.

So, in some cases there's no instinct, and it wasn't taught and they're not bothered. It's like people have to show others by how they move that "This is what you do when you're in this traffic pattern.", but some people were never taught, and won't intuitively shift, and just don't even care. So you have to signal what you're doing, and hope they pick up on it. You have to drive your body like you drive a car or a bike - find the lane, move at a speed appropriate to the conditions, and signal, either with subtle shoulders or head movements that you're going to move a certain way, in hopes that they're reading you so you don't crash. Whe I took driving classes, I was taught to make eye contact with other drivers. I find this rare these days - people just drive and expect the turn signals, if they use them, to do all the work. But I'll also be the first to say that I find this problem growing ever worse, with the amount of handheld devices, in your face advertising and deliberate pattern interrupts in places like malls (those signs on stands in doorways are there physically to make you stop) and kids these days, and my lawn well just get off it...
posted by peagood at 7:41 AM on December 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Just move aside. The nicer person always moves out of the way with a smile.
posted by anniecat at 7:45 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Right now, today, choose to be the person who always moves aside, or never does, and then never think about it again.

I recommend being the 'always moves aside' person, but there must be something to be said for being the 'never moves aside' person, because they sure are out there.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:09 AM on December 29, 2011

I do think gender is part of it. I remember a transwoman I was acquainted with reporting that one of the big surprises for her after her transition was how often she collided with people. Apparently, when she previously had appeared male, people would move out of her way, and she was unconciously used to that behavior when she navigated in the world. So, post-transition, when she was seen as a woman, people would not move aside as they used to.
posted by SomePerlGeek at 8:11 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Personally, I feel that each party should move slightly to the side to avoid collision. It's just the polite thing to do. I think it's rude to expect the other person to move, UNLESS you're laden with packages, or pregnant, or handicapped, etc.

If I'm approaching someone who refuses to yield a little, especially if it's three or more people walking abreast, and a collision is imminent, I just stop and wait for them to move around me. Works every time.
posted by Koko at 8:15 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Unless I missed it some where above, i am a little surprised that no one has factored age into their approach. Perhaps it's just another element to the cultural aspect of this problem.

I'm a big guy, but i realize i take up room (my girlfriend hates that i don't like to move to the front at concerts, but i hate the idea of blocking the person behind me so i stand near the back in smallish clubs). nevertheless, I pretty much expect a younger (younger enough to make a difference) pedestrian to move for me, and i respectfully move for those older than me. Both of these within the parameters of 'walk on the right, exceptions for disabled or those with a load', etc.
Maybe this approach makes me a bit of a 'get-off-my-lawn' dick sometimes, but if you're a teenager in a gaggle of other teenagers and you're texting as you are walking toward me and I'm correctly on the right side of the pathway, you will be dusting off your ass if you don't dodge me.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:38 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think it has more to do with the fact that some people are just kind of rude (or distracted or spatially unaware) than about how your age or how you look or dress.

I think the comments about women being more likely to move and men being more likely to expect people to move around them are interesting. This is the opposite of my experience. I'm female (and am usually very aware of other people around me so almost always do my part in moving around the other person) and have rarely/never have had an almost collision of this type with a man. I have fairly often with other women. Maybe this is just coincidence or has to with where/when I am out walking around or shopping?

But anyway, when it happens I smile and say "sorry" or "excuse me" and they usually smile and are nice about it too. The few times someone has looked annoyed or just continued to ignore me at that point, it has almost always been an older (but not elderly or mobility-impaired) woman actually.
posted by under satellites at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2011

I had a teacher once tell us that people usually do make eye contact - so brief you aren't even consciously aware of it - with other pedestrians approaching them, and then glance to the side they plan on walking, more or less unconsciously signaling where they are going so the other person can adjust accordingly. I don't know how true that is, but every time I've been in a crowded mall or what-not and done it deliberately it's worked quite well. Couldn't hurt to try?
posted by DingoMutt at 11:33 AM on December 29, 2011

From Ribbonfarm, The Game of Hallway Chicken.
posted by harmfulray at 2:03 PM on December 29, 2011

It's not you. It's the people you're walking with.

I notice this a lot when I'm shopping at Walmart. I don't know what it is, but people who shop there are frickin' oblivious. They don't notice you. They don't move aside. They don't give you room to get past. They spread out as groups to encompass an entire aisle. Everything. It's awful. I don't think it's confirmation bias, because when I shop just a half-mile or so away at Shopko -- which isn't really expensive by comparison -- all of a sudden I'm surprised by how people move aside, say "Excuse me", and what have you. It's night and day, even among the same supposed demographic, in the same town.

There's a similar notable difference you can see when you're a commuter in a big city like Chicago. Get on the train for rush hour, and everyone knows where they're going, everyone instinctively understands that this is a cooperative venture, and people stay right on stairs and escalators and sidewalks and do all the visual cues so that not only won't they run into you, you won't run into them. It seems like so much ravenous bustle from a small town perspective, but it's actually very efficient. Try the subway at midday, however, and it's a whole different beast.

Yet another example is rush-hour driving. It's amazing how well other drivers seem to notice you during those supposedly worst hours of freeway congestion. Sure, they're aggressive, even impolite, but they know what they're doing for the most part. It's driving during congestion early or late in the rush, or on a weekend with a ballgame, that you get the inexperienced drivers who are terrified at the multiple-lane environment and act much less predictably.

In short: Relax. It isn't you.
posted by dhartung at 2:23 PM on December 29, 2011

If you meet people who are walking 2-or-3-abreast with their friends / people they are talking to, they will probably be even less likely to move aside for you.

I hate these people.

Just pretend like they are moving concrete barriers.

In a grocery store I step aside for no one. I just charge on through, because I am *on a mission*. My mission is to get out of the grocery store as quickly as possible, because I hate being there. Strangely, people do seem to yield when I charge forward with a frown or non-smile going "excuse me" as I pass, without hesitation. I am a very large female though (not a 5' waif).

And I do not wait one second to tell people to get out of the way between me and the diet mountain dew. (I do so politely, however. But needs (addictions) are needs.)
posted by marble at 11:42 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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