In Through the Out Door

Did I miss the memo, or did parents stop teaching their children to allow people exiting (a building, room, elevator, bus, etc.) to finish exiting before attempting to enter? I don’t think I’m hallucinating here — it seems that people under the age of around 25 are completely unaware of basic (sensible, not arbitrary) etiquette. Feel like I’m continually wrestling with people trying to muscle their way in while on my way out.

Music: Rolling Stones :: No Expectations

15 Replies to “In Through the Out Door”

  1. I’m definitely under 25 (21, in fact) and have to say that
    a) I agree with you; and
    b) in my part of the world, and indeed every other part I’ve ever been to, it’s not a problem restricted to any age group whatsoever. I don’t know – maybe it’s just the generational divide rearing its ugly head again.

    I particualrly hate (no, that’s too intense – read “severely dislike” instead) the way many of our elders assume that because of our relative youth that we are all
    a) drug dealers (so that’s what all the pockets – all 2 of them – on my trousers are for!)
    b) that we are automatically, irrationally violent
    c) we invented pre-marital ‘relations’, loud music and abusive language.

    The beauty of this is that large corporations do apparently try to address such issues with their employees. By sending people to gimmicky ‘diversity sensitivity’ classes (or some similar bilge), this just enhances the problem by highlighting differences some of us never knew existed.

    Anyway, here’s my ulterior motive:
    Elsewhere on the web, you provoked debate over the ‘death’ or otherwise of BeOS. Well, I’m trying to research the lack of success that the OS had in most of its target markets. Do know of anywhere that may have relevant information? What are your personal feelings on the subject?


  2. No – you’re not alone on that thinking. There have been a few times where I’ll be the one of the last ones out of the subway car and people are already trying to push in. I stand in the middle of the doors (being a large woman), glare and push through them rather forcefully.

    There’s been a few time where I’ve wanted desperately to yell “the subway is not going anywhere – would you wait until people exit the car,” of course, with a few more obscenities included.

  3. Hey Scot, maybe it’s just another sign of getting old. You know, that “kids these days have no respect for their elders” kind of thing :-)

    But seriously, I notice it a lot here in Spain… I hold a door open for my wife, or an elderly person, and somebody behind me rushes past as if I were a doorman or something!

    I guess what’s considered good manners by some is somehow uncool or superflous for others.

    “It is bad manners to expel any liquid from any orifice in public.”
    – Debrett’s

  4. Well, here in Boston, its not just under 25 people, trust me. Trying to get off the T (subway) at rush hour downtown is hell, and its people of EVERY age, not just kids, pushing their way on to the train before people even get to the first step down. Don’t blame it on the kids, people these days just don’t have manners.

  5. Hi Scot,

    Here (in India) it happens everywhere you go. And I think the only reason my home country (Australia) hasn’t become as bad is because it doesn’t have the population India does (I think we can fit two India’s into Australia, but many many many Australian populations into India).

    I’ve wondered about this a lot. I’ll go into a shop ‘downtown’ (in the village) to buy something, and even though I’m there before others, they’ll shout their orders and push in front of me as if I don’t exist. I smile, wait patiently, and eventually the others leave and I get served.

    In Australia, I actually noticed that those who didn’t wait for others and forced their way through weren’t always the younger generation but the 25-40 y.o businessmen – with no time for anybody else but themselves. I think we have a lot to blame THAT generation for actually. They never passed on a single clue of living to the younger generation (probably because the majority of them didn’t have one).

    My parents are old enough to be their parents, so maybe that’s why I grew up understanding that it was polite to hold a door and to be last to
    step through it, etc. But I can’t actually remember anybody explicitly telling me that it was the right thing to do.

    But it just isn’t part of the culture here – at all.

    regards from Ooty,


  6. I agree it is good etiquette to let people off/out before trying to get in but sometimes people just forget and make a bad habit out of it.

    There are some reasons for this. The protocol is non-deterministic. You stand outside, wait, perhaps makes some eye contact and try and determine through facial expressions and body language if there is anyone left that needs to get out. How long you wait is a fairly subjective issue. At some point you commit to moving forward and then the muscle reflexes take over and it’s more instinctive to squeeze past than abruptly back out.

    As the interactions between people in public spaces become increasingly anonymous and impersonal, people move about like drones with less and less eye contact. People become more self absorbed their senses become dulled to the prescence of other social beings; they are merely moving pass obstacles that have to be dodged around.

    The increased pace of society (for some people at least) turns pedestrain navigation into high speed affair where collision avoidance has smaller margins of error than before. The basic algorithm is to simply head into an area of space in front of you and then deal with any pedestrains you meet. Squeezing past is preferable to stopping because you don’t have to throttle your speed as much.

    This is in contrast to the more elaborate route that navigates around multiple pedestrains by taking their vectors in account and making pre-planned changes in pace.

    If the lift doors open and there is an open space then the algorithm dictates you walk into it. If people getting out stand right up to the door then they should interrupt this pattern of behaviour. Usually, you will notice the person trying to walk in is surprised to meet a human wall upon the elevator doors opening and will take a half step backwards. During this moment of surprise you make your move into the half step space they have afforded you and then proceed to squeeze past them…

  7. I forgot to mention that in order to let people out you should stand some distance away from the door, or to one side of it.

    In a crowded place/world, this space you’ve created will invite other people to stand in front of you and beat you into the elevator. If the elevator does not have the space to accomodate you after those in front of you get in, then you will have to wait for the next lift. If it was a room or building, people behind you who don’t see what you see will assume you are just standing around and go right past you. Again the protocol minimizes waiting/observation time in preference to sudden collision avoidance action.

    So the rules have changed, and the old way of doing things loses out. It’s not a personal thing, people don’t necessarily disrespect you, they just expect you to follow the same rules they do.

    In computer science, the new algorithm could be classified as a “greedy algorithm”. It takes the quickest route to the next segment. It does not consider that this action could lead to a poor average case, or severe worst case scenario. The benefit is it does not take much thought to decide on an action.

    I’ll stop before it becomes a full blown commentary on the state of society =)

  8. I like what Ped wrote about the greedy algorithm.
    The exact same thing holds true in traffic, where greedy lane-switching (aggressive attempts to get ahead in line) causes traffic jams.

  9. While it’s utterly off-topic, since it’s already been brought up I’d certainly be interested in that ‘final accounting’ column about BeOS–or at least an informal gathering of your thoughts. I remember one of my last posts to BeNews was a rant on that topic, essentially arguing that Be’s apparent strategy was to keep pursuing One Big Thing that would make them successful, trying to chase after a chimera of mega-contracts (Power Computing, OEM deals that never happened in the PC space, and finally IA work), and that this seemed to effectively be blinding management to the possibility of success through building vertical markets. I was amused that instead of the downward moderation I expected, the rant got one of the highest comment ratings I’d seen on BeNews and a response along the lines of ‘I have no inside information, but that sounds like a very plausible analysis’ from Chris Herborth.

    I’m working at a company now that has a few ex-Be folks at it, but I lack sufficient chutzpah to go up and ask, “So, Jon, what’s your take on why Be imploded?…

  10. Ped, I have to ask – do you always go by the name Ped or is that a special pseudonym used only when in the mode of the ultimate observant pedestrian? ;)

    Thanks for the thoughts – reminds me of Nicholson Baker in the excruciating attention to detail.

  11. Watts, I don’t think it’s fair to say that Be was blind to vertical markets at all – they made quite a lot of headway in that dept with Roland’s video editor, the dedicated audio hardware of xxx (forget the big manufacturer), the audio listenign stations in record stores, and so on… they seemed quite aggressive in vertical markets to me.

  12. True, and there’s others I can think of (probably most notably Level Control Systems; IIRC, their association with Be started so early they began shipping their product with rackmount BeBoxes). But I was thinking more of vertical software-only markets, albeit within A/V–the space of Steinberg, Nendo, Maxon, Adamation, et. al. The 10-Q filings suggested BeOS sales from R3 through R4.5 were growing steadily–not exponentially, but pretty impressively.

    I suppose I’m suspicious that the whole “tractor app” idea from long ago, generalized to the idea that it would be one or two huge partners who would push (or pull) them over the top rather than a collection of small ones, was a myth that at least contributed to the company’s downfall. You’re likely in a better position than I am to have learned extenuating circumstances I’m not aware of, of course…

  13. LCS, of course – they were a big one. I always liked the story about how an LCS BeBox that was driving an amusement park ride started running more slowly. They popped it open and found that a CPU had vibrated loose. Be’s SMP was so good that a proc could wiggle from the spot and the box would keep running. Beautiful.

    As for the death of Be, I pin it on (without going into detail) a combination of:

    – Reluctance of users to partition
    – Reluctance of OEMs to take a chance
    – MS for the whole bootloader situation
    – The hardware/driver monopoly – such a drain
    – Fluctuating strategies inside Be
    – Underestimating the power of industry momentum
    – Underestimating the attraction of free (open source) as opposed to good.

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