Pedestrian traffic

I dipped back into Goffman’s ‘Relations in Public‘ this week, as a tasty little treat between Candy Crush lives. He writes in the preface; ‘Throughout the papers in this volume unsubstantiated assertions are made regarding the occurrence of certain social practices in certain times and among peoples of various kinds.’ Hilarious. The man is a legend.

I love his reflections on how we ‘co-mingle’ in public places. Mostly in an orderly fashion with our ‘use space’ commonly respected and reciprocated. He kicks off with some reflections around how we manage to walk around, often in crowds, without colliding into one another. And how what seems like a random activity – hundreds of people walking along Oxford Street, for example – is ordered and social. We constantly ‘scan’, ‘body check’, exchange ‘critical signs’ to signal a manoeuvre and engage in ‘near-simultaneous parallel adjustments’. We ‘step and slide’ through tacit agreement with others present making an often seamless display of togetherness. We could wrong foot people, or not play by these rules. We could engage in collisions and disruption but tend not to. Why?

The Goffmeister says the gain to be achieved doing this isn’t much, so trust is sustained.

The reason I’ve been revisiting this fantabulous book is because orderliness, manoeuvres and lack of collision are always visible in the photos I snap when I’m out.  Love him.

ryan5-314 ryan5-313 ryan5-312 ryan5-311

 

The £20 note and the Queen

Got on the bus this morning with a £20 note. And no change. Not a good move.

The driver shook his head. “No change.”

“Arghhhh.. sorry, I haven’t got anything smaller.”
“No change,” he said, poking at his change drawer.

The guy behind me was jingling some coins.

“Can I get the change in town, when you’ve taken some cash?”
“Doubt it. I’ve got no change so far. The best I can do is a change receipt.”
“Ooh, Ok.. What do I do with that?”
“Take it to our depot in Outer Mongolia.” (teeny bit of embellishment there..)
“Isn’t there somewhere  a bit closer to do that?”
“Gloucester Green.”
“Oh, Ok. I’ll do that. But if you’ve got the change when I get off, can I cash it in with you?”
“No. I wouldn’t have any cash left if I did that.”
“Well you ain’t got any now..”

Shrug.

“Ok, I’ll take the receipt. Thanks.”

Fifteen minutes I looked up from Candy Crush. The bus had stopped, not at a bus stop.

Eh? I looked out the window. Where are we? Dunno, but everyone was piling off the bus. Speaking to the driver in turn.

“What’s going on?” I asked when it was my turn.

“Detour. High Street’s shut. The Queen’s coming.”

ryan5-159
ryan5-153

ryan5-158

Strange times.