I came to New York assuming my stride would be on par with the proverbial New Yorker. I had years of practice keeping pace with my dad, expertly navigating through casino floors towards show room destinations. And as time went on, I mixed the look of a casual stroll with the pace of a hip swinging, sweatband bearing, 1990's speed walker. Keeping up with New Yorkers wasn't the problem, the problem was an onslaught of lackadaisical tourist's. Which brings me to a rapid navigation technique, ripped from the blog of Andy Nyman. It's a sort of psychological trick for navigating crowded bars, the New York underground, and occasional trips to that melting pot of confusion, Time Square.
Here's the original explanation:
Ok, so you’re on your own, walking through a busy street and everyone bumping & jostling you is driving you crazy. How can you avoid this without simply resorting to looking like a nutter or a tramp? Well here is a trick I have used for years and am sharing for the first time. This won’t eradicate all jostles, but without a doubt it cuts a path with noticeable effect.
When walking, look directly ahead of you with your eye-line held just ABOVE the heads of the oncoming crowds. Keep walking and imagine that people will move, guess what, they do. Noticeable jostle-reduction. Try it, see if it works for you.
- Andy Nyman • Diamond Thoughts
This works due to a suggestion of purpose. You have a clear destination in mind, and because you don't see those coming towards you, it's up to them to make a shift in direction. This works surprisingly well, but only solves half the problem. What about those walking slowly in front of us, the ones who DON'T see us. Personally, I find a light touch on the upper arm does the trick. And if you add a hint pressure in one direction, they'll shift to one side without much hesitation.
Note* This is NOT about moving people, it's about suggesting to them that you have a destination in mind. If done with a certain amount of grace, you'll find it's not unlike parting the Red Sea.
Remember, with great power, comes great whimsical abuse.