Every time I go into downtown Stockholm I am struck by differences in the behavior of most men and most women, while negotiating their movements in foot traffic. The typical female and the typical male acts differently from the other in pedestrian traffic in the downtown areas of large urban centers.
When I am walking, anywhere, I have a destination and a time for arrival clearly in mind. Walking from A to B within a given period requires tactics: short-cuts, jaywalking, avoidance of heavy foot- and motor traffic, etc. In addition, I am alert to the other foot-travelers on either side and in front of me.
I am most alert to walkers coming toward me. I gauge their trajectory and adjust mine accordingly so we don’t collide and don’t have to slow down.
Most males coming toward me in a similar fashion will engage in the same behavior and, through subtle eye and body movements, we signal to each other how we will adjust our respective trajectories to accommodate the other.
Similarly, most males traveling in the same direction will not change course, left or right, without first glancing to either side and a little behind to see if he will interfere with the forward movement of someone else.
Most women don’t do these things.
In addition, many women will stop abruptly in fast moving foot-traffic, thus causing others behind to jerk to a stop or veer quickly to the side, sometimes resulting in minor collisions and certainly loss of momentum for the unfortunates behind her. The usual reason for the abrupt stops, and sometimes unanticipate-able quick movements to the side, are enticements in shop windows.
Men don’t do this. Please correct me where I may err in my observations.
And there are other uses for windows: they are reflective surfaces, sometimes almost mirror-like.
So, I have learned not to follow women closely in foot-traffic.
One more thing: many women, more than so with men, will block critical paths while conversing with each other and create bottlenecks or impasses. Women with baby carriages or strollers seem, most of the time, oblivious to any kind of traffic around them, but it is easy to forgive and accommodate them. God bless them and their precious charges.
When I am traveling well on foot and have interacted in the subtle ways with other men as described above, I feel as if in a kind of tribal hunting party where each man, with perhaps a few grunts to augment eye and body movement, will be aware of the trajectory of all others and will be at optimum performance in his forward movements.