Monday, September 20, 2010

In Through The Out Door

I've been having Derbyshire-esque feelings of "We are doomed" dread as of late.

It's not due to an encroaching federal government, terrorism or even Bret Favre's season. It's because people seriously do not know how to walk through doors.

I work in a busy office building. There are people constantly in and out all day long as you might expect from a 12 story building. There are two large glass doors that people use to enter and exit the building.

I would say 80% of the time I am going through the door there is some issue with someone who does not know how to properly walk through. There are collisions, endless excuse me's, people almost getting hit by doors...

The biggest reason for the problems is not using the right hand side at all times.
When someone goes to the left, it causes the person on the other side to have to switch sides or stop, then when another person who is using the door properly comes along there is a long jam. The problem is compounded because all it takes is one fool to go on the wrong side and that door stays open, then the next people who come along take the path of least resistance by going through the already open door instead of opening the right hand side door and the chaos is on.

The other major problem is people don't square themselves up to the door and let it fully open before they try to go through. So when someone is opening the door from the other side, they risk hitting the person with the door who is on the wrong side trying to slip through the first crack of the opening.

In a normal door scenario there should be an even flow of people in and out of the building. There shouldn't be people stopping at the doors to get out of someone's way or waiting because opening the door will hit the person who is on the wrong side.

The door situation in our building could be a metaphor for modern thinking. You start with a perfectly good model of going through doors: everyone stays on the right hand side and waits until the door is completely open before going through. Then someone comes along and says "I will save myself 5 seconds by slipping through the barely open door" and "Who says I have to stay to the right?" What was once a simple, orderly procedure has now become a nuisance. This plays out every day I'm sure in office buildings around the country. Look for it when you leave for lunch today.

And if this is happening with doors, it scares me to think of the myriad other more important areas where this kind of chaos is playing out.