I am certainly not the first to mention this, but today I just got pissed off and thought I would ask again.
So I go to the local casino and entering the door, there are a group of people blocking the entry and, despite me saying, “excuse me” several times, they refuse to budge and I have to fight my way to get in. Mind you - there is probably 200,000 square feet of space just 2 feet away!
Then I try to walk down an aisle and two (usually hefty) people are walking - hand in hand…how lovely…at a pace that if they walked any slower they would be going backwards. You cannot get by them. Why the fuck are you walking hand in hand - are we playing red rover, red rover? Are you seriously afraid someone is going to snatch your lover away?
Maybe it is just me - but I can tell if people are trying to get through a door, or if people are walking behind me and trying to get past me. And don’t even get me started on people who get to the top of an escalator and stop to chat.
Is it just me, or are these people rude, clueless or simply lack any sense of peripheral vision?
My sense is more clueless and self absorbed. I find that they tend to be caught up in whatever internal drama in their personal life, and that takes over and they probably just aren’t even aware that you are there. I know that sounds impossible but I honestly think it is just that.
I see it in the Grocery store a lot, people stopped right in the middle of the aisle with their grocery cart blocking half the aisle and their body blocking the other half. Or at the check out, you wait until everything is rung up, then you remember you are going to pay via a check and then wade through your purse looking for the checkbook, etc.
I was on business last week and was struck by just how many people will gather in a walkway and stop and chat, when they could as easily step a few feet to the side where no one wants to walk.
Particularly egregious was at the tube station where there was an empty little courtyard no one was standing in and several people gathered on the sidewalk just standing there talking. There was a *place *for them to gather and talk, but they preferred to be in the place that is designed for walking.
Many people spend almost all their life in familiar surroundings. They go to the same job, the same restaurants, and the same grocery store & K-Mart for years.
Then on rare occasion they go someplace new, like your casino. And when they get there, they are overwhelmed by the differentness. I’m inside now, where should I go? I don’t know. How willI decide how to find the bathroom / restaurant / front desk / whatever? Where are the signs? What do signs even look like in this place?
When I used to be in the airline biz I’d see this all the time. People would get off the plane in an airport new to them & ask “Which way to baggage claim?” Every airport in the US has the same basic signage, mounted overhead in the corridors with the words “baggage claim”, a picture of a suitcase, and an arrow pointing the way.
People wouldn’t see it. I could point the signs out to them with my arm while saying “See the sign saying baggage claim with the suitcase on it? Follow those signs”. Often it took 2 or 3 tries for them to process this utterly novel scene.
When people get overwhelmed by novelty, they mentally jam up until the novelty overload in their head dies down.
I like using the bike trails around here (for biking) and I don’t mind sharing with pedestrians and other sports enthusiasts. I try to be polite, let folks know I’m around, slow down, and so on.
One day I got behind a roller-blader. A roller-blader with good form takes up the whole trail. I gave the usual bike-coming warning from 30-feet back, then 20-feet, then 10-feet (very loudly). Finally I was 3-feet behind him yelling at the top of my lungs and getting absolutely no response. I’m not sure whether he ever actually heard me or just caught movement in his peripheral vision. He finally figured out I was there after about 300 or 400 feet of me riding 3-feet behind.
And there’s almost always that one family with 2.2 toddling children with a dog on a flexi and absolutely no awareness that there’s a bike barreling down at them at 10-15 mph (and often yelling at them loudly).
Most people go through their whole lives in total obliviousness. This is the person who goes to the grocery store and leaves their cart parked at an angle in the lane, as they see you coming up. They know you need to get by but they just don’t see you.
We all have our moments of obliviousness but some people just do it all the time. You see it in driving too. No planning ahead. No thinking “Hmm, let me go to the gas station first, because then I can make a right turn,” instead, they do it last, and have to make a left at a difficult intersection and hold up traffic every which way.
Being conscious of your surroundings is often a tiring job. I am one of those people who is large and try to spend my life being as small and un-obtrusive as possible. It’s hard work, and makes me anxious.
My guess is that most people you find wandering around aimlessly and getting in your way are not willing (or not crazy enough?) to put the effort into being conscious of their surroundings all the time. I get annoyed with them but often I am jealous.
I almost got run off the sidewalk yesterday by a pair of runners.
Me - walking one way carrying a grocery bag in one hand and a 20 pound jug of cat litter in the other.
Them - two women running side by side.
The one on my side of the sidewalk showed no sign of moving over and kept barreling straight at me. I considered stepping off the sidewalk, then decided just to stop and glare at her for, essentially, charging straight at me. At the last second, she went around me, but clearly wasn’t happy about it.
HEY DUMBASS, I’m carrying 40 pounds of stuff here. There’s no reason you have to keep running side-by-side with your friend and try to crowd me off the sidewalk.
But yeah, the people who walk in the door of a large gathering and stop dead? Clueless fuckers the lot of them. Should be legal to brain them from behind with clubs and step over their unconscious bodies.
They know what they are doing. They see you, but they feel entitled because “I got here first”.
This is the same with people in the parking lot that know you want their spot and decide to touch up their makeup just so you will give up and then they exit. It’s spite. A power trip for the pathetic. One of my wife’s friends would actually block the door as people were exiting a party, calling back to the hostess “Oh, I forgot to ask, how is your brother?” As the others stand their in their coats carrying things, she will add “This will just take a second, he was in the hospital you know, so I want to check”. Won’t budge. Did this at every monthly gathering. Just wanted to show off and be the center of attention, and wield power over the politer guests.
My middle daughter has several problems, being dyslexic and some autistic tendencies. It baffled me that she would not realize someone was standing next to her, trying to get around her, in a grocery store or someotherpublicplace. I finally realized that the whole atmosphere of noise and color overwhelms her so much that she shuts down most of her senses to cope. Not that there aren’t people who are purposefully rude and crude.
Those are the times when I drop into semi-crouch to get my centre of gravity low and put my shoulder forth. You can bounce off of me if you want to - I wouldn’t advise it, though. I also do this for people who insist on walking on the left side of the sidewalk - here in North America, it’s walk on the right, pass on the left, just like driving. You don’t have the option of walking anywhere you like on the sidewalk when there are other people around.
I’m going to go with clueless and oblivious, too. I see this behaviour in Wal*Mart and Safeway all the time - two stores where you know, you KNOW, you are going to have crowds and busy aisles. You cannot, at any time in these stores, block an aisle and not have someone wanting to get by, yet people still do it. It has never filtered through their perceptions that if they don’t block an aisle, someone else won’t have to ask them to move. I think they think that the accepted custom is to block the aisle and then move if requested - the thought process doesn’t go any further than that.
In my experience, most are just plain rude. After my accident, I was using a wheelchair. Very seldom did I have to ask to get by, they would see me coming and clear the way. My chair was narrower than the cart and I needed no extra room to get by yet there was an urgency to their movements. Guess they didn’t want to be seen being mean to the gimp.
Now that I’m upright, I get blocked like everyone else. My cane is in the cart and is not very visible so I appear normal and thus not worth moving for.
I do something like this, only I call it “checking the time”. Imagine that you’re lifting up your arm to look at your watch–it’s probably only coincidence that it puts your elbow into line with their face (works for me because of my height). Your other hand comes up to pull back the sleeve, and it’s probably only a coincidence that it helps form a frame supporting your elbow. If you stop walking to do this, it’s entirely their fault if they walk into your elbow. And after they bounce off you, you can get upset that they walked into you. Win win.
It’s called reactance theory. Basically, when our free movements or free will are threatened (as in “my freedom to sit in my car as long as I want is being taken away from me by those people who are waiting for my space!”) we will cling that much harder to them.
Good, I’m not the only one who finds that to be true.
My peripheral vision is lousy and my brain pretty much filters out the blurs I see too far out to the side to be corrected by my glasses. My hearing’s not great, either- I have trouble when there’s a lot of noise. I’m lacking whatever sixth sense it is that tells people if the person who was walking behind them is still there or not (I usually make Mr. Neville walk in front of me for this reason). My spatial sense is lousy, so I can’t always tell if there’s room for you to get your cart by mine in the aisle.
I’m sorry if I’m blocking your way. I really don’t notice that you are there, and I’m not trying to exert power over you by doing it.
I especially love it when people get off an escalator, or out of a revolving door . . . and just stop there and look around. Then they get angry when the next person has no choice but to walk right into them.
Or if someone’s blocking an aisle in the supermarket. You say “excuse me,” and they respond with “m-hmm,” without moving.
I’ll make sure I acknowledge you guys when I publish my forthcoming guide book Pedestrian Transportation for Dummies, the back cover blurb reproduced here:
Do you find it hard to get around? Do you find yourself the recipient of dirty looks when you’re making your way down the street? Is it difficult for you to get through the day without unwanted contact on the street? Do you know someone like this who might benefit from some simple instruction? Then this guide is for you!
Join us as we tackle the everyday task of perambulation with such basics as:[ul][li]Sidewalks & HallwaysStairwaysCrossing Streets (including interaction with drivers)EscalatorsRevolving DoorsElevators[/ul]Then, follow along as we move into slightly more complicated territory:[ul]Moving in CrowdsYour Hurry is Not My ProblemConducting Walking Meetings (paging Aaron Sorkin)Free Pamphlets & Newspapers (a.k.a. Other People’s Trash)[/ul]Why, once you master these simple steps (pun very definitely intended), you’ll be breezing along without a second thought in no time![/li][/quote]
Reactance theory, interesting. I remember reading a study where they timed how long it took people to pull out of a parking space when somebody was waiting vs when nobody was waiting. When somebody was waiting, it took significantly longer for average person to pull out of the space. This of course indicates it is deliberate. So there’s a whole theory as to why this is? I always just chalked it up to people being assholes, but apparently it’s a deeper reaction.