Why Do People Congregate in Doorways?

“F ellow travelers. Here in the good old USA we walk/drive on the right. Should you find yourself constantly staring down face to face hordes of people dodging around you going the opposite direction, you need to select your ‘other’ right. Furthermore, when necessary to stop and collect yourself, masses bumping, cursing and similarly dodging you like a school of baitfish avoiding a pack of predators, you need to move the hell out of the flow! Self Awareness, clearly a lost art to the airline flyer……..”

The quoted paragraph above was posted by a friend of Ed Pizzarello of Pizza in Motion — and I tend to agree with the logic: not only do I walk on the right side everywhere I go to avoid that dodging dance people tend to play as they walk towards each other; but I also walk on the left side in countries where it is compulsory to drive vehicles on the left side of the road.

Why Do People Congregate in Doorways?

The “rules of the road” at an airport reminded me of another question I have always wondered: why do people congregate in doorways through which people are trying to walk? They block entrances to washrooms. They block egress to restaurants. They have been known to even block the entrances to either a moving walkway or to a moving conveyance such as a train when the doors are open.

This is not only a problem at airports. It also tends to occur everywhere else: in catering halls; at hotel and resort properties; and at meetings as three examples. A group of people stop to chat in doorways while blocking traffic for other people who are trying to get through — especially when there is plenty of room to step off to the side to chat. What is so important that the conversation must occur in a doorway?

I suppose an extension of this behavior can be people who congregate while using a moving walkway without leaving room for others to pass; or a phenomenon known as “gate lice” where people will block the gate so that they can be ready to board the aircraft — despite being assigned in the last group to be called to board…

…but those are topics for another time — as well as the clueless person talking on a mobile telephone; unaware of anything going on around him or her and therefore gets in the way of people trying to move through the airport.

Summary

A simple and polite excuse me while in motion to the people blocking your way usually resolves the issue virtually instantly, which is typically accompanied by what appears to be a sudden awakening by members of the group who congregate, as shown by the surprised looks on their faces as though they were standing in the middle of a freeway: “Hey — we are blocking a doorway. We need to move out of the way.” Another person will usually apologize.

As for the people who congregate in doorways: airports are facilities where people can be in a hurry to catch a flight or barely grab a meal prior to a flight. Please be more mindful and just step a few feet out of the way so that people may pass. Thank you in advance.

In the meantime, do you have any idea what would compel people to congregate in doorways? Is the issue simply a result of a lack of awareness — or is there some other reason? I am interested in hearing your thoughts — as well as any other “rules of the road” and etiquette which should be followed at airports but are basically ignored.

9 thoughts on “Why Do People Congregate in Doorways?”

  1. Danny says:

    Many people are “thoughtless” and have no consideration for others but only themselves.

  2. Mike says:

    They seem to like congregating at the top and bottom of escalators also…very annoying! Btw…if you are on a moving walkway and you aren’t walking, you should consider a wheelchair…it’s a walkway not a stand way.

  3. Pat says:

    I believe it comes down to where you were raised. If you grew up in a densely-populated area, you learned at a young age to stay out of other people’s way. If you grew up in a rural area, you didn’t. This is an instance where city-folk should be commended for their superior etiquette.

  4. Susan says:

    Or, groups of people who walk three abreast down a busy city sidewalk…

  5. Tyler says:

    @Pat that is a joke right?

  6. Mel says:

    Interesting observation. I guess people congregate at doorways because it creates a sort of ‘safety mechanism’ and makes for a quick ‘exit’ if needed. Examples: a polite ‘exit’ from a conversation or an uncomfortable situation, a quick and quiet ‘exit’ from seeing someone they don’t want to see at a party, etc. People also congregate at the doorways of a subway so they can dash out quickly at their stop, even though their station-stop is more than 3 or 4 stops away. And I guess it could be a lack of awareness too!

  7. Dan says:

    My passive-aggressive way to handle this is to, while I walk through them, instead of saying “Excuse me”, I say “Excuse YOU”. I mean after all, I shouldn’t have to excuse myself, right? It is THEIR behavior that should be corrected

    I wrote a post about this on my old blog nearly 10 years ago

    http://www.regoarrarr.com/blog/2008/04/excuse-me-no-excuse-you.html

  8. Captain Kirk says:

    When someone is blocking my path like and are seemingly starting off into space, I say “excuse me” but it isn’t “politely”. I usually say it in a clear, firm, tone not angrily or loudly but they get the idea. Sometimes it gets a little bit of a look but I couldn’t care less, they are the dope slowing everyone else not me.

  9. stephen jahrling says:

    Because they are self-centered fools with no awareness of other humans, if indeed they are themselves human. You see them everywhere: churches, schools, shopping aisles – they stand there, taking up valuable breathing air to yak like chimpanzees on Benzedrine. They are one of the tiny plagues of existence. That’s why.

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