“In the Way” is a curious phrase.
I’m huge. really really large. A rather grand baritone, and at one point, before back surgeries and osteoporosis, I was 6’7″. I’m still taller than 99% of the people I see. Also, I’ve gained a little weight since November, when I hurt my knee and disconsolately gave up walking. My apron strings still wrap around my back, so I’m not impossibly round. The point is, however, I’m BIG.
To make things even more interesting, I work all day in a kitchen with 3-5 other people, each with their own tasks to accomplish. People are constantly scurrying from the sink to the coffee station, from the register to the espresso machines, from the bathroom to the condiment bar. At any given time, my store could have several dozen people milling about, sitting and enjoying their breakfast, and generally being middle class happy American restaurant patrons.
And I amble through all of them, clonking into people and saying excuse me and trying not to make a nuisance of myself as I go about my daily tasks.
Suddenly, I am In The Way.
I’ve always been big and clumsy. I was also naturally inquisitive. This was a combination that got me in trouble more than once as a kid. Any working gizmo in the house wouldn’t be working if the family gave it to me for an hour or so. I really had no concept of space.
You know that little dance you do in a grocery market, when you and another person both try to pass one another, and choose left (then right then left then right) simultaneously, effectively blocking the other person? We do that a lot at Starbucks. I’ve even seen it work as a courting ritual among young people. But when you’re big like me, you have to learn to *stop* the dance, so you’re no longer In The Way.
Over the years, and probably because of Starbucks I’ve learned 2 helpful hints to combat the dance and stop being so freaking In The Way all the time. First, I touch the person who might potentially be folded, spindled or mutilated, and say “coming through.” This is always fun because everyone loves being touched by one’s co-workers, right? <crickets chirp…>
The second thing I’ve learned is to just *stop* when I notice the dance about to begin (let’s call this The Safety Dance). If I stop, and let the other person choose, things just seem to work itself out. The other person moves on, and then I am able to go about my business. Nobody gets hurt!
That’s a lot like my philosophy in life actually. For better or worse, when I see danger, I just stop, smile, nod, and let the other person pass by unharmed. If I harbor a particular animosity toward this person, I might have a little bit more ferocity in my smile than usual, but, you know, I usually bend with the wind.
“What’s the matter with you?” you might fume. “Be a man! Stand up for yourself! Grab the other person by the balls (even if they’re a woman) and throw them out of the way!” I dunno. It’s just not my style. I tried it once or twice, and apart from it being just rude (I do hate me some confrontation), I don’t have a very firm enough grip.
So that’s all I have to say about that. I really don’t want to be In Anyone’s Way. I included a few music videos because, why not?