Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I'm finally addressing an issue that's been on my mind as of late. The holiday season has caused a spike in foot traffic every where I go: The bank, the gym, the grocery store. With an increase in foot traffic comes the higher chance of encountering an awkward social situation I like to call the "sidestep shuffle."

I'm sure you've all experienced this. You know you're walking one way, another person is walking the other way. And for some reason, the powers that be have you walk straight into each other. Then trying to avoid eye contact, you both move to the right, and then the left and back to the right. For these 15 seconds of interaction, one of you will either faintly touch the other's arm (as a means of guiding), or utter the phrase, "Shall we dance?" with the hopes of lessening the awkward encounter. I've never ask that question... at least I don't think I have.

This happened to me at the gym tonight. I was heading toward the water faucet and a man was walking away from the faucet. From my peripheral vision, I saw that he was coming in my direction, but I assumed that we'd avoid a collision. But lo and behold, we managed to walk into each other and do the shuffle, not once, not twice, but four times. I don't think I ever looked at him once, my eyes were set on the water faucet.

So how does one avoid the "sidestep shuffle"? After some research on Google, I came across these etiquette tips:

1. When approaching someone head on, both people should pass to the right of each other.

2. When approaching another person from a near 90 degree angle, the person coming from the right has the right-of-way. If someone is approaching from your right, change course to the right to pass behind them.

3. When overtaking a slower pedestrian, pass on his or her left. (Thought I include this one too.)

4. Use the same rules as if you were driving a car.

5. Keep a steady course: If you hesitate, the other person will likely hesitate and you will both encounter an uncomfortable situation. Choose a path and stay with it.

I like tip #5, it sounds like a fortune cookie or my horoscope on Monday.

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