Monday, December 15, 2008

The Dynamics of Walking through Crowds 2

I pull off into a dead corner and watch the people streaming through each other. The personalities come through in this seemingly simple, but complicated interaction.

I see some people who are VERY aware of everything going on around them. They are VERY careful to keep to the far right side of the slow lane and never venture into the middle of the road for fear of having to touch or, God forbid, interact with these strangers. They are shy, self-conscious, and usually have a thinly veiled fear which I can see without even seeing their face. The mix with the older and frailer with a fear that is totally different.

In the middle of the stream, sometimes fighting oncoming traffic I see totally different temperaments. Some are fearless only to prove they are fearless to cover up their fear. They are the Bangers who will not care about pushing their way through the crown. They are dressed differently but are really the same. Some are dressed in baggy clothes and sideways hats clinging to a belt loop and walking wide to keep only a planned view of boxer shorts in view. The same people are in extremely tight shirts and pants which closely resemble another skin to show their bulging muscles and tattoos. There are female versions of these two but more often I see the prowling female in Las Vegas. You can tell a lot about women just by the way she turns when she makes her way through a crowd. Will she turn away and protect herself as she brushes by you or turn and face you daring you to excuse yourself by her. Sometimes I even get a wink from “ladies” I am forced to get too close to. As I watched I saw a man turn around and pursue a wink but I never saw if he caught up with her or not.

The rest of us flow with the crowd, not faster, not slower, just with it. Calmly, patiently getting to where we are going with a pocket full of “excuse me” and “sorry” ready to doll out.

While in that corner I experience an anomaly: the traffic clears. As if a stop light clicked on around the corner the hall becomes empty. One at a time people come through and they seem lost. They don’t know how to relate without the crowd. The fearful stand more upright and confident as they make their way. The Bangers slow down because they have no competitors to be faster than. The “ladies” cover up and seem to shrink. And the normal people, well, we simply straighten out the corners and make it a little faster than normal.

I come away from this experience realizing that we NEED each other. Even those defiant and ornery would have no one to be defiant and ornery to, if not for the rest of us. Our trip through the mall hallway is a microcosm of our lives and interactions with each other. We need each other to survive and to move forward in life.

No comments: