May 8th, 2005

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10:29 pm - territory and instinct
The only thing that annoys me more than - well, people - is groups of people.

Have you ever noticed how a group of three to five people in a public setting, if they stand around talking instead of getting a table, invariably do so next to a resource or strategic traffic area of some kind?  Check it out sometime.  In a fast food setting, it's clustered around the trash / tray cabinets.  In a coffee shop, it's around the milk / sugar / etc area.  In areas with limited traffic space, it's in a doorway.  Note that in most cases, none of the people involved are actually using the resource in question - but rather than withdraw to a corner, they cluster around a resource or strategic area.

Think it's coincidence?  Pay a little more attention next time a completely oblivious-to-the-world knot of people is standing around someplace functionally important.  Notice how when you say "excuse me" and the person in the way turns and gives you a startled look, they instinctively move closer to the resource in question.  Once they have time to think about it, they'll move aside - but the instinctive reaction, while they still have that confused "what does this person want and how do I react to it" look on their face, is to edge closer to that disposal area, cream-and-sugar-bar, or doorway - not to step aside.

This annoys me to no end.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I sure as hell can't fault people for being territorial - in fact I tend to be EXTREMELY territorial - but I pick and choose what I define as my territory; I don't just sort of unconsciously claim the condiment bar or the soft drink dispenser or the doorway in the name of Jimbo, God, and the King.

Current Mood: cynical
Current Music: Mos Def - Close Edge

(9 comments | Leave a comment)


From: mr_renaissance
Date: May 8th, 2005 - 10:46 pm
Yup, it's true.
And don't forget about the eventual annoyed sighs when you have to pass them by!
It even happens in the street, they always seem to cluster where the sidewalk is most narrow.
And don't get me started on clusters walking real slow in front of you when you happen to be in a hurry...
(OK, I'll quit the misanthropy now, I already started two sentences with "and", definitely a sign of aggravation.)

[User Picture] From: clme
Date: May 8th, 2005 - 11:13 pm
What do you claim in the name of Jimbo, God, and the King?

Also, depending on the culture, weren't at least two of those items supposedly close to the same thing? :-)

I catch myself in groups like that periodically. I wont notice when I get drawn into one, but after a minute or two (or the first 'excuse me') I tend to start saying things like "Why dont we step over there guys" or "We're in people's way here aren't we?"

The thing is... when I do that the people I'm with looks SO annoyed at me, and sometimes just say "We're fine" rather than have to move away from their precious doorway.

Happens to me most often at bars, at the narrowest part of the room behind a bar will be where everyone I want to talk to will want to stand... and its invariably a thouroughfare besides. There can be an entire seating area, or a much wider area on the other side of the bar, but they'll insist on standing in the way right at the busiest junction.

Never really thought of it as being more than people being annoying before. Now that you mention it it almost does seem like something that should be studied by a sociologist or anthropologist.

[User Picture] From: scarlett723
Date: May 9th, 2005 - 05:46 am
on the inverse, even if I managed to drag my group while waiting for seating or whatever to a larger point in the room, that always seems to become a throughfare.

[User Picture] From: katyakoshka
Date: May 9th, 2005 - 09:56 am
Totally. Werd. Hate that shit. The men with their name on the building inevitably have ad hoc meetings in the main walkway through the upper floor, the part between me and both the restroom & the copy/B&W printer room. What part of walkway do people just not get? Or are they too important to find a space to work easily. Ghaa.

[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: May 9th, 2005 - 01:54 pm
I'm telling you, it's not accidental but it's not conscious either - it's an instinctive maneuver to occupy strategic territory. Probably a really positive survival trait when the human race was still evolving rapidly as a weak and very sparsely populated species, but god damn it's a pain in the ass now that we're dominating the planet and creating greater biomass-per-square-meter than any other life form larger than a cockroach ever has in the history of the planet. =\

[User Picture] From: katyakoshka
Date: May 12th, 2005 - 11:49 am
How that works with trash containers... I'm still not getting.

But the rest: Territorialism. I have a book I still need to read -- The Territorial Imperative. It's been on the list for 10-15 years. V. sad. So much fluff I'd rather pick up instead.

[User Picture] From: biffious
Date: May 10th, 2005 - 04:10 am
What annoys me is if you are walking, solo, down a pedestrian walkway, and coming the other way is 2/3/x amount of people who are walking astride and taking up the width of the walkway. Now, nevermind who they are blocking from behind, what pisses me off is when whoever the person is in front of me in this herd doesn't move to make space for me coming the other way !!! Like they own the whole walkway. The amount of times I've had to step into the street for a flock of middle aged women is unbelievable. I fast growing the London rudeness and just making my own path thru these groups of people.

[User Picture] From: fishpig
Date: May 14th, 2005 - 08:39 am
"The London rudeness" - how enormously true.
My alternative is just freezing in front of them and waiting for them to get out of the way. If any of them rear up, I apologise for anticipating better manners than they are capable of.
By the time the gammas have parsed this, I'm safely away. One day my smart mouth is gonna get a punching, mind.

From: godbacchus
Date: May 10th, 2005 - 02:37 pm

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