It was a social experiment. I promise.

It started when I nearly walked into a woman on the way in. She was a mother, you see. But her child was with a younger woman, flush with the novelty of being in charge of a small person. I was walking a straight line to the door, and both I and the young woman and child altered our courses slightly to avoid each other.

The mum, on the other hand, kept walking right at me, and we had one of those awkward moments where each realises, at the last minute, that the other person is not going to move out of their path as expected. She was about my age, maybe a couple of years either way. It's not the first time I've had this problem lately.

So I started thinking. About social hierachies and who moves for whom, and whether one's status as a parent has anything to do with it. And then I started experimenting. By walking at people, to see if they'd move out of my way. Here's what I found:

Children ignored me unless I was actually going to step on them.
Teenagers moved.
Elderly women stuck to their course.
Elderly men mostly moved.
People around my own age were variable, and are no doubt an area for more detailed study.
Parents with children varied somewhat, but tended to stick to their course.
Parents whose children were nearby also varied, but tended to stick to their course.

Here's the bit where I'm supposed to draw some grand conclusion. I think my sample size was too small. I wonder if, for example, a full shopping trolley beats an infant in a pram. I don't know - I haven't tried. There's certainly a temptation to write something bitter about how parents think they're so much more important.

But of course, this social experiment says as much about me as it does about my "subjects". It says as much about who I defer to as it does about who defers to me. And perhaps it explains why I keep walking into people lately.

You see, I think my value system is changing. Once, I saw parents as people who deserved respect and advantage. Now I'm starting to see them as people who have everything they deserve already - much more than they deserve, for some. And perhaps I saw myself as Not Yet A Parent, whereas maybe I'm trying out the idea that I'm simply a Person, and all by itself that should count. I don't think my thoughts are entirely clear. I don't think my body language is, either. Hence I keep walking into people. Especially mothers, around my own age or younger, whose children are currently being supervised by someone else.

Or maybe they're just the most distracted.


14 Comments

Bea said...

And you're right... the posts just keep coming lately. It seems I've got a lot of mental tidying to do. Lots more dusting to come.

Bea

Lut C. said...

If I read in the papers about the woman who pulled a hit-and-run after ramming a pram in the supermarket, I'll know it's you. ;-)

Personally, I'm still in the phase where I walk around parents and their kids in a wide circle. But I no longer have to surpress the urge to do something violent.

Beagle said...

I think it's an interesting study . . . maybe you could get a research grant.

I'll have to start paying more attention.

I have a similar (but not at all infertilty related) informal study going on about who holds the door for someone coming along behind them.

(hardly anyone, but least of all teenagers, so I was surprised that they were your study's most compliant group.)

Vee said...

Looks to me like you have done some serious blog tidying too, well done. Good to see you are keeping busy.

Very interesting study, you know I am going to have to test it out now.

The Town Criers said...

You've given me a lot to think about at the food store tomorrow...

Carly said...

Quote
Once, I saw parents as people who deserved respect and advantage. Now I'm starting to see them as people who have everything they deserve already - much more than they deserve, for some.
Unquote

Pure genius!!
You are.

I've been wanting to say this for years but have never got it our without sounding overly crude!!!
Thanks Bea, for saying the words I couldn't find.

StellaNova said...

The teenagers at my school generally don't get out of the way - especially as most of the time they're not actually looking where they are going (particularly with doorways and corners).

As for mothers - I've really never noticed. I'll have to start checking it out.

By the way - hi again - I'm glad to be back.

Bea said...

Ok, I've got some theories on the teenagers.

1. Apparent disregard for others, in teens, is more a lack of focus than outright rudeness.

When going through a door, for example, they are focussed on what's through the door, not who's coming behind them. When walking through a supermarket, however, their attention is directed such that they will move politely out of the way.

2. Teens get cocky in their "own" space and when they outnumber non-teens.

For example, high school is "their" place, built and run for them, and occupied by them with a few extraneous people (ie teachers) occasionally getting in their path around the hallways. The supermarket is not "their" place - it's an adult place, mostly filled with adults, and they defer to adults in the supermarket accordingly.

3. The teens at the supermarket the other day are not representative of teens in general.

I was shopping near my grandma's house - a suburb full of retirees and young families. The teens tended to be young teens who may not have yet morphed into parent-hating adolescents.

Like I said - my sample size was pretty small.

Bea

soralis said...

Good thing I wasn't there we may have had a head on! A we bit stubborn here! :)

I am with beagle you should try for a grant! :)

Take care

steph said...

Sounds like something to do. I have noted your same ideas on teens. I also notice it depends on your attire. For instance, a person dressed in a suit or business attire will win the route over someone in sweats. This has to do with your self image (I am totally guessing). If I am going to court and dress up, people get out of my way. Especially people who are there for court because they are in trouble. It's like they sense I am on the other side and get the hell out the way (0:

How are you doing otherwise? I know we're both post-IVF bad news and moving on, so I wanted to check in on that specifically. If you're like me, there are good days and bad. Or moments, not really days. Anyhoo, let me know.....

Bea said...

Steph - interesting thoughts about the dress code. I hadn't even begun to go there.

This is obviously a deeply complicated area and, whilst a grant sounds good, I fear the length of time it would take me to get through all the preliminary reading. I'll file it under "Things To Do In The Future If It Turns Out I Can Be Arsed".

Also - left you a comment on your blog re: my current situation, how we're stepping back, rather than moving on.

Now I have to type that word verification thing. On my own blog. It's *me* guys - you know - *the author*? *ME!*

Bea

Ellen K. said...

Intriguing! I work from home and so often I'm out running errands during the day with the stay-at-home moms. I think if their strollers weren't so damn big and unwieldy, they might move a bit for me. Or not. But I don't think they're as worthy of deference anymore, either. Especially when their damn double stroller is blocking the tampon aisle, like some infertile incarnation of a fire-breathing dragon.

The elderly men ALWAYS step to the side, with a smile. They're like the beaux of Target or the grocery store.

serenity said...

My biggest pet peeve are the people who don't yield to me if I'm walking straight at them. I don't know why, but it bugs me that they think so highly of themselves that they can't manage to get out of someone else's way.

(Course, maybe that means I'm the same way. Hmmmm...)

Interesting study!

steph said...

I'm glad you still have some options and still look forward to seeing how it goes. Sounds like you needed a break! If you'll notice from my posts, even though we're done with the medical interventions, I haven't dropped all hope there isn't another way to at least try....
I don't think that any of us ever really give up. There are breaks, changes in intervention strategy, and plan B's. We're heading to plan B but plan A is to get pg and it's still hanging around!!!

Is it me or do these word verifications just get longer and longer?!?

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