Monday, August 8, 2011

A remedial class about doors, a rant

There must be something about doors that generate dumb-o rays. (Maybe 4 or 5 of the people reading this are laughing given one particular place I've used that phrase before. They know who they are.) Doors seem to bring out the stupid in many people, I don't know why. Not that it's buried particularly deep for some people, or is hard to bring out.

Like a path, doorways imply movement. One goes through a doorway. One moves on a path. They are both a means of getting somewhere else. If the door is closed it becomes a wall, until you figure out how to open it. Many engineers and designers have spent a great deal of time trying to make this easy.

To a large extent they have succeeded. Many doors slide open when they sense someone coming. Good thing they work on mass and not brain power. We have design conventions where almost all doors open outwards. A flat plate or horizontal bar means push. A vertical bar means pull. Our hands naturally want to grasp and twist a knob or lever. These controls are on the swinging side of the door, not the hinge side. Maybe, just maybe, the action of opening a door strongly suggests another action, that of moving on through and getting on with wherever you are going.

Next I think they need to work on open doors to see if they can find a way to keep people moving. What is it with stopping in, or almost in a doorway? On the lobby floor at work we walk through a hallway, chiropractor on the left, hair cut place on the right. Right after that is a sliding door, with the doors permanently open. The hallway goes on, wider, with benches on the side. Right after the door is a cross corridor to get to the elevators. Guess where people stand, groups of them, to chat?

Just on either side of the door, a few feet away, right in the centre of the crossing corridors. Why? They see people coming along, moving around them, trying to avoid other people as they try to get to their elevator. Don't they recognize that they are IN THE WAY?? Are they channeling a house cat? Are they stupid, or just being dicks?

Even worse, sometimes they will see someone coming, and start the dance. You know the one. Both people dodge east, then west, simultaneously. I hate that game. As soon as I recognize someone is playing it, or trying to play it, I lock my gaze in the direction I'm going, and just keep on going. I don't look at the other person. Even if they are in that direction, I'm not looking at them. I'm looking through them. Which is where I'm going to walk, if necessary. It works for me.

However it doesn't work on the blabbermouths blocking traffic. Their attention is focussed on what is coming out of their mouths. That is the sum total of the attention for two guys chatting. Next for a man and woman, he is trying to look at her boobs without being caught at it, with the small remainder of his attention on what he is saying. Two women are both talking, and they are checking out each other's shoes. None of these people has any attention left over to spare on anything else. Oddly enough, our society frowns on us walking into such people, and trampling them once they're down. Pity. The average IQ for society in general would go up slightly.

I've sometimes thought it's a dominance thing, sort of like the State putting a tollbooth on a road. Us walkers have to pay the toll of noting the standers, and figuring out how to get around them. Especially if one or several of the group is perceived as high status. "Look! I'm important enough to be chatting with this vice president." Maybe in some companies that might work, but on my current contract you can't swing a cat without scratching out the eyes of a vice president of some kind.

Even when people have mastered the essential element of passing through a doorway, some have not figured out that keep right still applies. Many people seem to want to aim for the middle of the door, even if it is 6 feet wide and there are oncoming walkers. Maybe their navigation skills are inadequate to the task. Perhaps related are the people that slow down when going through a door. I don't know if they fear there is a predator on the other side waiting to pounce on them, or feel an innate urge to resist Bernoulli's Principle.

There is a special circle in hell reserved for the people that start to go through a door way, and stop. Usually they are having a panic attack, trying to remember where they are going. Or maybe they are seeing the doorway as a metaphor for their lives, and passing through will irrecoverably brand them as over the hill. I just wish they would deal with this existential crisis SOMEWHERE ELSE! Like pulling over down the hall to review your inputs, or possibly consult the map on your phone.

Which leads me to another thing, people walking and texting. Call me sick, but I enjoy frightening them. I love the look of fear in their eyes as they look up to discover me RIGHT THERE, within one step of flattening them. I haven't made anyone wet themselves, but I have hopes. I have made them spasm and leap.

All this talk of people being obstructions for those of us who both know where we are going, and want to be there, naturally leads me to Sunterra in Banker's Hall. Some of you know it. To say the layout is a gong show is a compliment to the 'stars' of that TV show. (I would love, LOVE to bring the concept of the Gong Show into corporate presentations. The first ppt slide would do it for me. Now, who to play the part of Jaye P. Morgan?) There is no efficient way through to get a coffee, let alone a coffee and a snack. The staff are cheerful, and go to heroic efforts to help people get through, but it's tough sledding. And that's before people get into the mix. The ones that stop in doorways. People who don't know what they want, or where it is if they do know what they want, or change their minds partway through. People that have ridiculous orders, some complex mix of products for 3 different people paid for 3 different ways. People that don't have the right change, or a small bill ready. I'm sure they would sell twice as much if only they streamlined their layout.

To get to the Sunterra, you need to use an escalator. I suppose you could use the elevator, but that would make you a weenie of the first order. Escalators are problematic. They are in motion, compared to the floor, yet appear to be still compared to the railing. I think this fascinates some people, sort of like a cat watching running water. Most people have mastered getting on and off. Unfortunately, they have not mastered stand right, move on left. How hard can it be?

In some cities crowded beyond bearing, they hire people to forcibly pack other people into subway and train cars. Maybe we could put a dent in our unemployment problems by hiring people to stand beside certain doorways armed with a shepherd's crook. They would be authorized to reach out to the standee's, hook them, and drag them to safety. By the neck, of course. I would pay them by the number of people they rescue from being trampled, complete with video footage to ensure honesty. It looks like win win all the way round to me.


  1. Ok, I'm sensing that people stopping in doorways is a pet peeve of yours.


    Me too, actually. I think we should legally be allowed to carry cattle prods with us to break up these bottlenecks. It's only right.

    Also, I went for a three mile run today. Thank you for encouraging me.

  2. I know the hallway you are talking about- it used to drive me crazy when people did this! That's why I tried to avoid leaving the office during the "rush hour" times.

    I love the part about channeling house cats!! My cat loves to lay by the top of the stairs and doorway into our bedroom! Creepy but I always know where to look for him if he isn't on our bed!


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