Musings on life, the universe and an elephant named Flobo

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I have been spending a lot of time walking through the city during my lunch breaks at work. Partly because I like to be able to leave the office behind for a little while and have a break and partly because, it is another excellent place for people watching. Trains lately have been slightly disappointing on the people watching front… what is it with all of these people acting “normal”.

Seeing a busker deep-throat a long balloon will certainly draw a crowd. Those playing instruments and singing are more likely to be passed with ease. We as a society seem to gravitate towards the “freaks”.

Throughout my trips, I have noticed that not many people seem to be able to stick to the left-hand side of the paths while walking. It has always seemed like a rather straightforward approach to allowing large groups of people to move collectively together however it doesn’t quite seem to have caught on in Australia. We Aussies certainly like to do things our own way. Walking across one of the main crossings in the city, people are walking two and fro from all four corners of the intersection at once. Most days it seems like perfectly timed precision and we time our foot falls with one another to enter what I shall refer to as airspace, a mere moment after it has been vacated by a person travelling in a different direction without collision. It is quite beautiful to witness. Occasionally, someone is out of sync with the group or decides to mix things up a bit by changing direction suddenly – must have forgotten an item at the shops and the whole system seems to collapse as people bounce off one another like bumper cars.

Seeing the usual precision of the street crossing has gotten me to thinking. Why do we keep to the left? Yes, it makes sense a large part of the time, two flows of people can move easily in opposite directions without causing chaos. However, what if you are coming from the other end of the street and are on the righthand side and need to enter a shop that is on the left? Chaos – you are fucking with the system.

Should it then be a rule that you can only enter shops if doing so from a set direction? Surely that wouldn’t be good for the retail industry. Should we throw out the social rules all together and live in a state of anarchy and be bouncing off one another at regular intervals and jolting people out of the little bubble of self-absorption they are in as they have eyes glued to social media? That may not be a bad thing. Although I hate it when randoms bump into me. Get out of my bubble!

Keeping to the left in stairways and on escalators also seems like a good idea. Allows those who don’t want to wait in line to quickly move up the right hand side and get on with their day without having to wait for the mechanics of the travelator to slowly wind them up the incline. Perfect in principle until you can’t get around someone due to bags that they are carrying or because the escalator is too narrow for two people to comfortably stand side by side without getting awkward and smooshy.

Keeping to the left is all well and good in principle however we have got to understand, sometimes doing so just isn’t right.

2 thoughts on “Keep to the left

  1. Rachel McAlpine says:

    Interesting observations. Constant vigilance will always be needed, but near misses and small collisions are welcome human moments.


    1. inkwell87 says:

      Thanks for the comment Rachel. I agree, human interactions are a much needed part of life.


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