Side-By-Side In Sisterhood
Now that I've regained my masculinity, I guess I can start making sweeping sexist generalizations again.
What is it about women that make them constitutionally incapable of walking
Indian-Native American file, even for the briefest of moments? I have a number of running partners, many of whom are female -- The Queen, her friends, some coworkers here at the office -- and one thing that's always struck me is that while men will quickly assemble into a line when the trail narrows, women will often steadfastly refuse to deviate from their side-by-side formation, even if it means slowing to a crawl, hunching their shoulders forward, and moving within picometers of their companions to navigate a bottleneck.
And it's not just on the run: in the mall, on the sidewalk, on the escalator... Is it because women are so egalitarian that no one wishes to assume the lead? Or are they so independent that they refuse to literally "fall in line"? For whatever reason, the behavior seems endemic to the whole sex. I've noticed this phenomenon so often that I've started to wonder if it is, in fact, the origin of the phrase "walking abreast."
Posted on June 23, 2004 to Observations
I have another, related question. I used to live in the Washington DC area and frequently rode my bike on the Rock Creek park bike paths, which, for those not familiar with Rock Creek park, it has over a hundred miles of bike paths that wind through DC and beyond. When I would approach someone on foot from behind, I would customarily call out "on your left" and then pass them on their left, just like on the ski slopes. Invariably, the females were always walking 2 or 3 abreast and when I called out "on your left", the one farthest to the left would step TO HER LEFT and look back over her right shoulder. Why do you girls do that? And God forbid you should just try to zip by quickly without announcing yourself. That would startle the gals and prompt a stream of shouts. And let's not even get into the whole toilet seat thing.
And God forbid you should just try to zip by quickly without announcing yourself.
I hate people who do that. In fact, I've often fantasized on my jog about stretching out my arm at just the right moment to clothesline a biker who doesn't announce himself.
And I'm a man (albeit a man who throws like a girl).
It's really strange but at my work, the opposite seems to be true.
I work for a large corporation, and we have a lot of eager middle and upper management types (99% men) who wear their $1,000 suits while the rest of us are business casual.
You can bet that you'll see these toads walking abreast in the hallways, waving their arms and talking about the latest sales numbers or marketing schemes and not looking straight ahead as they walk. You can make a beeline for them but it's not a good idea to play chicken with them...you'll lose.
So, I usually veer out of the way and the suits just continue on, talking about the business and ignoring everyone who dares to cross their path.
I hate them...
We call it single file out here in the Midwest--you can totally avoid cultural land mines.
Never noticed that amongst my fair gender. I walk single file when necessary, taking the lead or falling behind as is necessary; step to the right when a biker hollers 'on your left' and don't give a crap whether the seat is up or down--how much energy does it take to reach out your hand and drop the seat down with that satisfying, abrupt 'bang!'?
Perhaps it is the women in your circle--thus, the women to whom you are attracted (even as friends) and who are attracted to you. Ultimately, it's your fault.
as a woman, i can only surmise that by staying side-by-side, the conversation can continue uninterrupted with appropriate non-verbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, eye glances). if one person steps ahead or falls behind, they will have trouble hearing and communicating with the other(s). if a larger group spreads out into single file, the conversation will need to be paused until they can again be at each others shoulders.
Also that makes it easier to point and laugh, when there is Leader Male running-short-slippage.
I notice that, too, and I'm a woman. It seems that other women have this sense of entitlement - as if they are more important than other people or their needs are somehow more important than the fact that you are about to run off the path, whatever.
Personally I will always let people pass or move out of the way, but I think I am in a small minority.
I can't stand the toilet seat up for the reason that when it's up, it's usually dark and my butt falls in the toilet and my legs fly up in the air. No, it's not hard to put the seat down, therefore, the one that puts it up should put it down. As you said...how difficult can that be???
I haven't noticed this with women, but what I have noticed, and I mean no offense to those of you with very small children because I'm sure you and they are fabulous whatever you do, is that parents with strollers tend take up the entire sidewalk and will not let anyone pass. I know that it's probably because they both want to keep their eyes on the little tyke and I can certainly understand that. However, As I'm forced to risk my life by walking in the street to pass them I sometimes get the impression that they feel they are entitled to bad sidewalk etiquette simply for having reproduced.
I'm a girl. I regularly walk single-file. It does seem to throw my girl friends off, but it makes sense to walk appropriately and make room for others as needed...
Then again, I'm mostly weird.
The same thing drives me crazy. I always fall in single file. I think that all my years as an archaeologist working in snake infested areas, trained me to fall in single file. You want to step exactly where the person in front of you stepped. That is unless they just stepped on a poisonous snake.
And it also drives me batty when people in the DC metro system do not stand to the right on the escalator. And then they act all insulted when you ask them to get out of your way.
It's the pack mentality. If one gets "left behind" even for a brief second she's out of the pack and will be set upon by the other wolves. She thinks, "What did they just say? I'll bet it was about me. That damned Shelly, she's always been a bitch, I'll bet she's saying bad things about me to Carol."
All this takes place in the 3 seconds it takes to walk around the trash can before she gets back "abreast".
Oh, and hiking with or near women is the worst. Always clogging the trail and stopping to enjoy the "scenery". Despite what you say ladies it IS a race to see who gets their first!
Toilet seats? Always down, along with the lid. I learned to do that after knocking my toothbrush into the dumper. Now it just bounces harmlessly off the lid and onto the floor... which is probably worse than the toilet water, now that I think about it.
But don't get me started on how women park their shopping carts in the grocery aisles!
toilet seats: if there are more trips to the toilet by males, then shouldn't the prefference be for an up toilet seat? so, when you ladies come in, you put the seat down, and when you leave put it back up when your done?
the seat up/down issue should be by how the toilet is used, not for some entropic preference of either gender.
Pedestrains (especially overweight women), regardless of the size of the sidwalk, will occupy as much as neccessary to block me from passing.
After many years of controlled observations, Crash's Law has finally been upgraded from Crash's Theory. It has now been conclusively proven that pedestrians have the ability to expand across any width of sidewalk, in an attempt to prevent me from passing them and maintaining a normal pace. It has further been proven that the rate of expansion is proportional to my desire to pass them, and is inversely related to their rate of forward momentum.
In essence, this is an expansion on Boyle's Law which states that gas will expand to fill any container. And since we're on the subject of gases... the likelyhood of the 'blocker(s)' exuding unpleasant bodily odors and/or smoking is directly related to their ability to expand.
Although easy to reproduce in a lab, nature provides abundant examples of this phenomenon.
Ever counted how many women hold the door open for you? A coworker noticed this last year and so I started paying attention. I am seeing about 95% do not. Very puzzling.
I guess the lid should always be left down. I read about some guy who actually studied this and he discovered a little phenomenom he called "aerolization". Basically, a good flush throws tiny, germ-laden droplets of toilet juice into the air which land wherever. He kept his toothbrush in the medicine cabinet after that.
TOILET SEAT GOES DOWN. its not fair to us girlies if we sit down in the dark in the middle of the night (not turning on the lights so as not to wake you grouchy men up) and fall SPLASH, right into the toilet bowl. which, frankly, is disgusting. gross toilet germs on your butt. eww....
"We call it single file out here in the Midwest--you can totally avoid cultural land mines."
I'm married, and I take offense to your assumption that single file is somehow better.
I've noticed the door-holding thing too. I'm rather sensitive, since I'm in a male-dominant field of work (engineering). It really annoys me when men hold the door for me to go through, but will just stand there waiting if I hold the door for them. It's funny, I get more insulted at that than I do at guys who are blatantly sexist. I'm a bit weird though, I've always hung out with guys rather than girls. And I'm also a single file chick.
I haven't noticed that walking single file is gender based. Although, as a female biker who walks single file and announces that I'm passing on the left, perhaps I'm biased. The group of roller bladers that decided to stop in the middle of the trail the last time I was out riding was all male. But the people pushing strollers on the wrong side of the trail around a blind curve were female. As to the toilet seat issue, I would prefer that it stay down because I don't want to have to touch it in order to put it down, giving the crappy aiming ability of many of the men I know.
One of my girlfriends was actually knocked aside by someone going in the opposite direction on the Greenlake path. Granted, she was walking abreast of another woman...
I tend to give way on the sidewalk, and my sister did a study in a mall and discovered that men are the ones who force others to walk around them in shared spaces.
I'll walk single file when the terrain dictates it, but I have noticed that I can only do this with my female friends if I step in front of everybody else. If I try to 'fall back' they'll just stop walking. I've always found it weird.
As to the toilet seat thing, I wish women would just get over it. When I moved in with my husband five years ago, I told him I didn't care if the seat was put down or not. He leaves it up about half the time. If I told him to put it down, he would, but it has never bothered me. After all, you never hear men demanding that the seat be left up, do you? Women tend have a disproportionate amout of control over the house, any way. Why harp on a guy about the goddamned toilet? I've only accidently sat down with the seat up once, and I was drunk at the time. When it's dark, I just put my hand on the back, like where the lid is, and make sure the seat's not up. It's automatic.
I'll also open doors for men, or anybody else. It's just polite.
There have been times where my wife and I will be walking and talking side by side and will for some reason need to change to single-file (Midwesterner) and she will act hurt that I have stepped either in front of or behind her (the latter doesn't work so well, she will just turn to face me).
Also, I have noticed that many women don't know how to hold a door open. When Wife and I approach a door and I am closest, I will hold it open and she will walk through. If she is closest, she will walk through and sort of push it so it stays open behind her. Yesterday, I got to the door of an office building. Behind me was a woman in a wheel-chair. I held the door for her and for a group of three or four women behind her. That door lead into a foyer, so there was another door to open into the building. Now I am at the back of the line, the wheel-chair-bound person is at the front, unable to get the door open and the women behind her are just standing there talking amongst themselves. I had to walk up to the front of the whole group and let them though again. Thank you for letting me get that off of my chest.
I have to spend more time observing before I can answer this but they do teach this as a women's studies class: "Walking Side By Side" Women's Studies 395. 3 credits.
Wow, this has spun completely out of control. Here's my theory: life sucks. Get used to it and stop complaining.
Walking: God, I hate those women. They do it to me, too, so you men aren't alone.
Door holding: Do it. It's just polite.
Toilet seat: I don't care, really, because I always remember to check before I sit down. My real problem with it is that about 75% of the men I know leave dried piss all over the rim of the bowl, and no one wants to see that.
Why should women hold the door open the way men expect them to? I see absolutely no problem with the old "I go through and keep it pried open so you just push at it as you follow me in" approach to that. Egalitarian, and no-one bitches about chivalry and all that crap.
No-one in Seattle understands single-file, Matt (btw, not a "mid-west" term, i've said it that way all my life and i'm a westernern). Families of 4 will trod along in front of you taking up the entire sidewalk, even if you "harumph" loudly behind them. Scores of men in suits won't get their asses out of the way for me. And don't get me started on the damn Pike Place Market - that place makes me homicidal. Take a harder look, and tell me it is really just women, and not just completely oblivious Seattle pedestrian behavior in general.
> One of my girlfriends was actually knocked aside by someone going in the opposite direction
That was probably me. I'm not sorry.
I keep to the right when I walk. I don't go out of my way to bump into people. However, if you're walking three or four abreast on a city sidewalk and make absolutely no effort to even acknowledge my existance or avoid a collision, I will knock you on your ass.
Try it sometime, it's a lot of fun.
I've always found that the problem is not where someone's walking, or which position they leave the toilet seat in, but rather how much consideration they're having for other people.
As a teenager, my friends and I thought it was funny when we'd walk four abreast on the sidewalk and force people into the parking strip or the street. Then we'd push each other into the juniper bushes.
Now, I spend a lot of time pushing my daughter around in her stroller, and I get ticked off at "those damn kids" who think it's funny to take up the whole sidewalk.
When I walk with my mother-in-law, and we're taking up a large chunk of the sidewalk, I'll slow down so she can zig in front of me for a moment, or speed up so she can duck behind me for moment, and invariably she copies what I'm doing. And when I see somebody on a bike coming up behind us, I'll say "Look out on your left!" and she jumps to her left, looking over her right shoulder, and almost knocks into the dude on the bike, who has no idea what the hell she's doing.
As far as the toilet seat issue goes, again, it's a matter of consideration. I don't mind the expectation that I put down the seat for my mom or my wife, and personally I prefer to keep both seat and lid closed unless it's in use. What bugs me is the assumption that their need to use the toilet is more important, so the toilet should always be in the proper position for them, so that they don't have to check it first. That just strikes me as plain inconsiderate.
I have a lead pipe that I carry for just these types of occasions. I beat the smallest one of the group. Then I run ahead.
I have solved the toilet seat issue with my wife, I beat the crap out of the seat with my lead pipe.
Now we don't have one.
"What bugs me is the assumption that their need to use the toilet is more important, so the toilet should always be in the proper position for them, so that they don't have to check it first. That just strikes me as plain inconsiderate."
Of course, this is only a valid argument if you're told to put the seat up when you're done. If not, you're leaving the seat in the proper position for yourself, which some might see as inconsiderate.
Personally, I vote for leaving both the seat and the cover-thing down. This way, all parties are inconvienenced equally.
Sorry Ryan, I miss read your post (haven't had my coffee yet). In hindsight, your post makes alot of sense.
Clint, the only problem with your idea is stopping after you've beaten the smallest one.
I agree with Lisa. If you've fallen into a toilet due to the toilet seat being left up, and it didn't teach you to always check before you sit down - well, whose fault is that? (Yes, I'm a girl despite the neutral nick)
I also hold doors open for whomever is behind me, and I always say thank you if someone does the same for me. I rarely receive a thank you when I do it, though. I just figure people are completely self-absorbed.
It's not like guys don't have to sit on the toilet once in a while, you know. We just have the presence of mind to avoid taking a blind flying butt-leap onto the toilet in a darkened bathroom when we do (I really can't imagine any other scenario that would result in someone "falling in"). That said, I usually have the courtesy to leave the seat down for those who don't seem to have similar presence of mind.
I have a solution. It, admittedly, is not very nice. Further, it takes awhile for people to get the gist of it.
Plow through them. Women, Business Suits, Ubrella folks (who refuse to lift). You know they saw you, you know you saw them. Brace yourself, and don't apologize. If we were all equal, both parties would have moved for each other. They ignored you. They obviously have misjudged your character.
My situation is admittedly different. I have a problem with people not allowing for 2 way traffic on sidewalks. Back to Boyles Law... But it is more like a Boil in a very uncomfortable place.
It has taken me the better part of a year. But the folks on my way to work, on my way home, and around my lunch time haunts now know: share or be knocked down.
Courtesy is so simple. But apparently, I was born to be the jerk.
Lid solution. Always put down, not only the seat, but the lid as well. Men lift two to pee, Women lift one to pee. Flush, replace the respective items to their oringinal location. Parents and Pet owners should know better. There. No falling in. No urine on the seat.
I think on some level that qualifies as abandoning our friends. It would never really occur to me to go single file unless I was holding up other people unrelated to the group.
Yeah. We're a strange breed. But I've observed my partner examining the extent of dirt and hairs on a dropped french fry and eating it anyway. I feel no shame.
"And when I see somebody on a bike coming up behind us, I'll say "Look out on your left!" and she jumps to her left, looking over her right shoulder, and almost knocks into the dude on the bike, who has no idea what the hell she's doing."
See, I wasn't making that up. I will never mention the toilet seat thing on this blog again.
As for myself, I'm just not that quick on the difference between right and left. I do know which is which, but often I'll say one when I mean the other, and most of the time I have to think about it a few seconds. Yes, sometimes I even do that thing where I hold my hands up, palms out and thumbs extended, to determine which one forms the "L." Thus, when walking blissfully along and someone behind me yelps "on your left!", it's not immediately clear to me which is the proper way to jump. Either I'll instinctively sieze upon the word "left" and jump to my left (unless I've confused my left and right and accidentally jumped the correct way) or, more likely, just freeze in panic until the danger has passed. So, honestly I'm not trying to be rude; I'm just a moron.
It is true that some guys seem to find it emasculating to allow a female to hold a door for them. On several occasions when I've opened a door for a man (particularly one who is older and/or from the South), he will stop and wait for me to go ahead. The resulting nonverbal "after-you-no-after-YOU" exchange can cause an enormous bottleneck during Manhattan rush hours. For the sake of smooth traffic flow, I usually opt for the hold-the-door-behind-me approach.
In Jason's two-door situation there's no excuse for anyone, male or female, to stand there and wait. In this city the whole lot of them would have been shot and skinned.
I have nothing to say about toilet seats.
Following up on Ginger's Manhattan-based post, I would like to share some Manhattan-related things I have played with.
Frist of all, most of you are probably talking about the Man hat, b/c there is nowheres else in this country besides bike paths that people actually walk anywhere not-just-for-fun. I recently went on vacation to Florida, OK, and CA, and conclude that people just don't walk at all anywhere else, so we should just make everything drive through and be done with it.
An Aikido teacher once told me to take walking in the street as an exercise in blending, and told the story about Ueshiba Morihei, a tiny 80-year old man, getting out of the car at the same time as his young Olympic-athlete students. He whizzed(no toilet-seat pun intended) through the crowd, and his students finally caught up to him, huffing and puffing, as he serenely strode onto the Shinjuku train. I love navigating the 3-second relationships that spring up on my walks around in the city, gliding and slipping past 300+people sqeezing onto one block of extra-wide sidewalk.
Oftentimes, when I run into umbrella people or other inconsiderates who refuse to acknowledge my presence or that of the instantaneous relationship that exists bewteen two ships passing in the night, I do the Matrix-style Morpheus walk, and if done with confidence, the waters do part, Moses. However, I use my powers for good and make a path when encountering Little Old Ladies, Baby Strollers, Working Slobs with Boxes, and Hot Chicks. Be aware that in certain parts of town (Spring St and in Qns) the Little Old Ladies are Warriors and will make liberal use of elbows.
I always open the doors because in the City, the doors are always heavy or have powerful vacuums holding them closed, and men are better built for opening heavy door or lugging luggage. In addition, I make sure that the door stays open until the person (male or especially female) passes, not smiling while letting the person get through the threshold only to let go at precisely the wrong moment, smashing the hapless victim in the shoulder.
Frankly, I agree with Paul who doesn't sit with out checking "to avoid taking a blind flying butt-leap". I also usually wipe the seat down before sitting, with TP, and not those ridiculous toilet seat covers that never work right, either falling in right when you turn around after placement of the cover and before placement of my butt, or mysteriously refusing to become unstuck post poop. However, I am housebroken and put the seat down. However I am still boggled. Why not close the door and turn on the light? It bothers this grouchy man just as much to hear that tinkle-tinkle as it does to have a blinding light on. Is it more intimate to leave the door open? Personally I think it is more romantic to keep certain things private. Adds to the mystery.
As always, it is the mundane things that are the most fascinating when examined.
With me, sidewalk curtesy is more about power than etiquette.
I think it stems from high school hallways, because I was always moving to get out of someone's way, even if I had the "right of way." In groups of my friends, I somehow always got stuck on the outside edge of the "pack" because I would always give way to oncoming traffic. (As mentioned earlier by Duane, there is some sort of mild paranoia about always being the person on the edge.) I eventually got sick of it, and decided that I wasn't going to be the "nice" one anymore. I started walking straight ahead, in essence playing chicken with my fellow pedestrians. You'd be amazed by how many times people would simply pretend not to see me until they had plowed right into me. I eventually adopted the stare-down technique, in which I would lock eyes with the oncoming person, and stare them down until they move out of my way. This technique works, although not on small children, but they're easily puntable.
Being a total sloth from a small midwestern town, I don't get out and walk much. So I don't know much about sidewalk rudeness. But I HAVE been noticing lately the total rudeness of fellow shoppers at the grocery store and Wal-Mart who think nothing of blocking the whole aisle with their shopping cart (trolley to some of you, depending on geographical terminology) and who refuse to go single file for even a second. These same people meander s - l - o - w - l - y down the middle of the driving lanes in the parking lot too, refusing to push their carts on the SIDE of the lane, thus holding up traffic. What is it with this inconsiderateness for other people? I've often thought about grabbing one of those phones they have that employees can make announcements with and saying something like "The Politeness Police are now patrolling the store. If you don't pull your cart to one side of the aisle when you stop to look at the items on the shelves, you will be shot. Repeatedly." Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that such an announcement would get me jail time. Sigh. Oh well, a girl can dream!
As for the toilet seat thing...well, I always thought it should be based on how many males or females use that bathroom regularly. Growing up, I figured we females in my house got our way cause we outnumbered Dad 3-1. I was later shocked to realize that many women seem to feel it is some kind of right we have, that men have to surrender to us. Of course, who KNOWS what will happen if I ever marry and have to share a house and bathroom with a man and the male-female ratio is 1-1. I'll probably get sneaky and try to count my cats in so I end up with a 3-1 ratio and get MY way. :)
After all, my fave toilet seat story (I have a FAVORITE toilet seat story? How sad!) is when my date left the seat up in my bathroom, and later that night my kitten wanted up on the bathroom counter. Unfortunately for her, her route to the countertop included jumping up on the toilet seat. Trust me, one sound you do not want to hear in the middle of the night is a splash followed by angry, shocked cat sounds! Although the visual memory of a wet, angry cat IS one that still makes me laugh after 8 years.
People walking in groups tend to be less considerate of other pedestrians, especially if their attention is focused on the group instead of on the walking. Sure, the stereotype is that men tend to devote more attention to the destination while women are usually determined to maintain communication all the freakin' time. It's a tendency but not a rule.
I'd say that degree to which people are considerate or oblivious of the people around them is a matter of humility. If you think the world revolves around you, you'll expect other pedestrians to revolve around you as well.
Urinals are for standing. Toilets are for sitting.
It drives me crazy when I hold open a door for someone and they STILL put their hand out to touch it as they go through. Probably because of Dex's legion of shoulder crushers.
My girlfriend will be walking abreast on a sidewalk and when I see another person coming I try, oh how I try, to go single-file and she Just. Goes. Where. I. Go. WTF?! It's like single-file isn't even existant in the female mind.
Thank you, I feel much better now.
"Women tend have a disproportionate amout of control over the house, any way."
Yeah, they get to do all the cooking and cleaning.
After the MoveOn.org rabble-rousing, post-"9/11" rump-shaker town meeting thing, I walked home with two other lefties (a couple) and we were three abreast on the sidewalk. I heard someone coming up behind us, and -- these comments in mind -- did what I'm sure was an amusing contortion of speeding up and veering right to get in front of the befuddled couple, while turning my head to give the impression that I was still involved in the conversation. This proved to be entirely ineffective as the woman coming from behind went around us even further to the right, thus ignoring the space I was attempting to create for her.
The lesson in this? It's hard to move out of the way when not everyone agrees where "out of the way" is.
Or, I just have a problem with spacial relationships.
I have never in my life seen a man use the toilet as often as a woman....for 8 of my uses and 4 of my daughter's....my husband may use it once. If he leaves the seat up, it is rare and I don't say anything unless I'm grumpy and don't look and my booty lands in the toilet....eeewww.
I admit, I didn't read all these comments, and I won't. Just wanted to mention that, recently, I found http://www.yforum.com , which is a website totally dedicated to asking these kinds of questions and getting honest responses from real people who don't get pissed off at generalizations and seemingly racist, sexist, agist, or anythingelseist remarks. It's pretty neat.
Toilet seat adjustment goes immeadiately before ushering out your waste. It is the turn signal of bathroom ettiquette. (sp?)
1) I often end up having to go across a pedestrian bridge towards the ferry terminal here in our fair city, and invariably I end up crossing at a time when one of these ferries has recently arrived, spewing forth a flood of passengers. I am always amazed at how this flood of people refuse to take up just one person less in width to allow me to walk against the flow. I often aim right at a person coming my way, hugging my side of the walkway, in a small game of pedestrian chicken. They do move, but I am always amazed at how close we do get.
2) I have also been amazed at my own wife's inability to make adjustments to aproaching pedestrian traffic. If we are walking side by side, and someone is coming the other way, I will begin to either slow down or speed up so that we end up "single file" to avoid collision. She will often stay right with me, making my adjustment futile. In the words of an above comment, WTF?
I think I have solved the female problem of walking in single file (note, I am a midwesterner, and a proud wisconsinite). When I slide in behind my girlfriend, I place my hands on her hips, and get a great view at the same time. no complaints from her, no complaints from me.
The toilet seat... now that is a different ball game all together. I think I will just leave that one alone.