Pedestrians in the City

Watch as people stride down crowded sidewalks.
They don’t always manage to avoid collisions.

Two travelers with veering-left tendencies
approach from opposite directions. If they make

eye contact, then, most of the time, each wanders back
to the right. However: gender matters.

Example: Person A, a male, glides towards the left,
in preparation for a left turn. Meanwhile, person B

has just stepped up onto the curb, moving forward.
Everyone knows that B has the right of way.

But if A is a woman and doesn’t make eye contact,
she passes first. If two men are in the same configuration,

no eye contact would definitely lead to collision.
With two men, the first one to break eye contact

loses right of way.  With two women, looking down wins.
Sometimes you’ll see the fake out. This is when in a collision course,

one person pretends not to notice. This strategy almost always wins.
But women may use the double fake out.  First, she does the fake out,

but then, as if irresistible, she looks down, indicating
that she noticed. And women often collide with other women,

especially women with babies, because they both defer,
and end up in each others’ paths. If you pay attention,

you’ll see that some deferments are insults
while others are a come-on.



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