Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Don't Expect Everyone to Move Over to Make Room for You

Today I was in the stairwell at work when two people came from the opposite direction. One of them was one step ahead of the other, but they were basically walking side by side. Now, by all rights, the one in the "middle" should have moved over so as not to bump into me, right? Well, she didn't. And guess what? I didn't move over, either. I am faculty, and she was clearly a student, but in the stairwell, we were equals.  So, there was no way I was going to step aside and flatten myself against the rail. In fact, I didn't even move my book bag out of the way. She bumped into it, and didn't apologize, but then, neither did I. I figured that since she didn't move over, she wanted to bump into my book bag.

This type of thing has happened to me before, but on a sidewalk rather than in a stairwell. I have been walking down the sidewalk and have encountered two and sometimes even three people walking side by side coming straight at me. When I was younger, I would step off the sidewalk entirely to let them pass. Then it occurred to me that there was no need for me to do that; one (or two) of them needed to step back so that we wouldn't all run into each other. I realized that I am not inferior, and as long as I keep to my part of the sidewalk, I'm should not have to step aside in that situation.

So, really, what was the best way to handle this? I didn't want to say "excuse me", because I wasn't in the wrong. Yelling "please don't run into me" would have been a bit extreme, and "excuse you" would have been too rude. Stopping the person in question to explain why her behavior bothered me would have been ridiculous.

I'm not even going to try to explain this to the kiddo until she is a good bit older. If I teach her basic good manners, hopefully it will occur to her to not expect everyone to move over to make room for her. As for the girl woman in the stairwell, well, I'm not her mommy. But I am mean enough to let her run into my book bag.

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