This is worth reading as a city slicker, a campus cutie, or any other scenario in which you may be passing direction with another human. I think you will find it useful and most importantly, entertaining! My little brother Doug, who is now a grad student at the University of Minnesota getting his Phd in Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics, wrote this a few years back in good old English 401 at the University of New Hampshire! Here it is from Doug:
Walking on the street may seem like a simple task that requires minimal effort and mindless logic, but the truth is that sometimes things on the street can go unexpectedly. The important thing is to know what kind of situations you may face and how you should react when it gets hectic. Let’s face it; on a busy college campus with narrow walkways, wet weather, and hourly classes walking can potentially go terribly wrong. The most common situations you will face as a walker are: directional establishment, misidentification, and speed adjustment/adjacency. All of these problems have quick painless solutions that, in the end, will hopefully keep your social awkwardness at an all-time minimum. We’re going to get through this.
1. Directional Establishment
As a walker one the most important things you can do is establish a direction. The most common rule of thumb is to follow the right side of the walkway or staircase. The best way to establish a direction is to square your shoulders so they are perpendicular to the intended direction. You should imagine a giant arrow pointing out of your chest. As a way of avoiding “bumping arrows” with someone, leaning your head to the right or left is another way of signaling to someone else “I’m moving this way; you go that way.” Other people will appreciate the teamwork.
Directional establishment is especially important because a head-on collision can be extremely awkward and, in some cases, dangerous. No one likes to find themselves in someone’s path with establishment in the same direction. You are also at risk of establishing an identical new direction. Now you are in each other’s face for a solid set of moments. This is known as mirroring and is a sadly common occurrence to the hopelessly awkward humans out there. It happens to everyone. If you find yourself entering a potential mirroring situation, the best thing to do at that point is stand still and hope the other person will just walk around you. Curling into the fetal position is not recommended.
Perhaps even more embarrassing than a fleeting moment of misdirection is misidentification. Many jackets, body types, and backpacks look similar on the street. Often times you may think someone is your best friend when really they are just complete strangers. The typical thing to do is to play it safe and text your friend saying something along the lines of, “I just saw you outside of Hetzel hall.” Only if you are so inclined of course. If it wasn’t them you will be saved the embarrassment of yelling fervently. (Or just do it if you really don’t care.)
Another risk of misidentification is a wave. Although a simple hand gesture from across the street may seem inviting, if the person waving in your direction isn’t obviously someone you know, always check behind you too see if they are waving at someone else. Waving at a total stranger like they’re your best friend is extremely embarrassing. They definitely noticed.
3. Speed Adjustment/Adjacency
More times than not people on the street will walk at different speeds. If you are in a rush, speed adjustment and adjacency should not be a problem because you are moving much faster than everyone else. However, if you are moving at similar speeds it is important that you adjust your speed so that you are never adjacent someone you do not know. People will think you are completely creepy or overly friendly if you simply walk alongside them without engaging in conversation. To avoid that, simply slow the pace of your feet and allow them to continue along without worrying them. Speed adjustment is common courtesy among the world of walking and is often necessary near doorways.
The most important thing to always remember about walking is that you are the one who is in control. With experience comes wisdom and soon you will improve as a walker, but for now these guidelines should help you to know what to do in case the rare walking snafu happens to you. Remember to be courteous, kind, and directive and you will soon be strutting your stuff like the big man (or woman) on campus.
Thank you for reading, & thank you for sharing Doug!
Xx Lindsey Rose