A couple years ago, I attended a HUGE conference. It was packed full of learning, networking, and of course some fun on the side (conferences are much cooler when they at least try to put on a great show in addition to the brain overload!)

With this conference in all its hugeness…came lots and lots of people. LOTS. There were people from pretty much every state (and other countries, too!) and every age group. Interests varied, depending on the person’s occupation, but for the most part, it was a very creative crowd. I got green and yellow crazy socks as a give-away! Did I mention creative? We all moved through the halls of the convention center like cattle…then we’d stand in line to get into the next session we were signed up for. I love to people watch and chatting in line with perfect strangers was awesome – especially when we’d see each other by accident later out of coincidence and hail a friendly hello. I do tend to like to blend in when it comes to large crowd situations. Just one of the cows…

During all this moving around, I came across some pretty interesting observations and began doing a few “social experiments” just to see what would happen – and still run a few “tests” every now and then. To preface, I’m in my mid-40s, I dress pretty “normal” and casually, and I’d venture to say I don’t look very mean or intimidating (even if I’m trying!) – and I try to be cordial and respectful of others. But I kept noticing I was dodging people left, right, and sideways to avoid head-on collisions. Everyone was going in different directions to get to where they needed to go, but when I met someone face to face when we were in the same path, I was the one who moved out of the way. It wasn’t some of the time, it was nearly all the time. It’s not like I’d veer over and run into someone. Nope…it was a long, straight and narrow walkway with plenty of room to get by…and I’d see the person coming. So I stopped moving to see what would happen. It became a game of chicken – and had I not dodged out of the way at the last second, they would have ran into me! Why was this?! Why was it expected that I have to be the one who moves?! Very odd. So then I started taking notes as to who I was (potentially) running into…or not… Ages are approximate, of course – I did the best I could to estimate. So here is my assessment:

  • Women under 30 rarely moved out of the way.
  • Men under 30 moved about a quarter of the time.
  • Women between 30 and 50 moved about a quarter of the time.
  • Men between 30 and 50 moved aside most often – about 75% of the time.

People under 30 were on their phone most of the time. Text walking…talk walking…and multi tasking as they continued ahead with the 1,000-yard stare. They were looking right at me and didn’t seem to see me coming AT ALL. Those over 40 were also on their phone a lot of the time, but if they were, they were talking to someone instead of texting while walking. But why were women generally the ones who would not move over? Was it because I’m a woman? I find the people I love and respect most are other women! Why would women want to run into me if given the opportunity (because I didn’t move out of the way)? Is it because men are generally taught about chivalry and women are oblivious? That’s certainly not the case with me and all the women I surround myself with. So what is it?

I will continue to ponder…Maybe zombies do exist!