Moving through crowds indoors is something that everyone does. However, thinking about how the people interact and all of the unwritten rules is something that no one really talks about -- until now. Some friends and I have come up with a list which contains most but not all of the types of encounters and people one will face when negotiating the hallways.
The Blind Corner: When you walk through a hallway with relatively few people, you find yourself cutting corners to get around faster. Under the assumption that no one is around, you don't expect to pull the corner only to have someone right in your face. The person nearest the wall usually keeps going, while the person cutting across is forced to make an evasive maneuver. To avoid this you may want to stay in your own lane, so to say.
The Standoff: Walking down the hall, you often find yourself trying to get out of the way of another person only to realize that you are looking in a mirror. Both of you somehow manage to mimic each other's actions perfectly when you are just trying to get out of the damn way. This usually results in people around laughing while both of you feel embarrassed. Avoiding this is very easy. In Canada, the rules of the road typically apply to sidewalks and hallways. Drive on the right side of the road, we aren't in England. If both people in this situation move to their right, the problem will be resolved. If both people move to their left then the problem will be resolved, but without consistent rules, you will be in someone else's way, repeating what just happened with a different person.
The Cut: Trying to get to your destination during peak hall occupancy can result in being unable to turn properly. Typically, you do not want to get in the way of others, so you hold off until you have the right opportunity to get through the gap of traffic. There isn't always space for one to get through, though. This results in a last moment cut through hallway traffic which disorients many and results in dirty looks from others. This one is nearly impossible to avoid, just like intersections without turning arrows. Except, in this case, there is no yellow (amber) light to save you. Good luck!
The 'Couples' Walk: Wanting to spend as much time together as possible, couples walk as slow as possible thereby delaying everyone behind them. You can tell it's the couples walk because when peering ahead, you will typically find a gap of about 20 metres in front of them. Avoiding this is hard to do because the couple will block any way to get around. I suggest walking outside to get around these people if passing them proves too difficult inside or you can break their hand holding and walk through them to get by while uttering an "excuse me" to make things seem acceptable.
The Blob: Missing one of these is very hard to do. People will form a mass in the hallway and progressively get larger and larger. Everyone will just keep talking, ignoring and disregarding any kind of courtesy there may be when it comes to allowing others to get around. The worst blobs are those that form at the bottom of stairs or just before classes start, blocking classroom exits. The best way to deal with this is to go right through them, saying "EXCUUUUSEEE MEEE!!" as sarcastically and passive aggressively as possible, so they finally come back to reality and get the fuck out of the way.
The Door Hold: When you walk through a door, if you aren't a complete douche or in a rush, you will look out of your peripheral and see if you should hold the door for anyone. The distance required for the door hold is debatable, varying with the speed of the walker and the willingness of the holder. Two metres is usually a good guideline. To increase the chance someone will hold the door for you, speed up so that you can get in the same door as the person you are following and they may notice your change in pace and feel obliged to hold it for you.
The Darter: Darters notice all the aspects of hallway walking more than others because they are aware of their surroundings and try to get to their next destination without dawdling. They are not in a rush. They just do not like to be slow. If you are walking and feel the toe of a shoe hit the heel of your shoe, then you may be walking in front of a darter. Or you may just be going too slowly. To get away from these types you must become one, otherwise enjoy being passed, grasshopper.
The Lost and Disoriented: These people do not know where they are going and do not really care all that much. Perhaps they are just killing time. It is fun to watch them when you come to a fork in their path. They will slow down and look at all the directions they may go, holding up those behind them. Finally, choosing a path, they go onward, still unsure whether it was the right choice or not. If you are a Good Samaritan, you can ask them if they are lost or looking for something in particular to help them out, but most people don't give a damn about strangers these days.
The 180Âº switch: While walking, these people turn around where they are standing in order to return the exact direction from whence they came. This is hard to deal with and it confuses the hell out of people. They may have forgotten something or they may have remembered something they were supposed to do. Either way, it is funny to watch knowing they wasted time walking somewhere only to have to go back the way they came. The 180º switch is embarrassing and some people will do a loop leading back the way they came in order to avoid looking like a complete moron to those behind them.
The Shoulder Nudge: This Usually occurs when two people are walking near the inside of the halls and both either have no room to move or do not want to move. After the shoulder nudge, both people look back at each other and give the "WTF mate!?!" look. Avoiding this is easy. Just pay attention and move out of the way when you see someone who doesn't have room to move or turn slightly to the side, making yourself narrower and creating room for both to get by.
The Swerve: When trying to pass someone, you will likely encounter this kind of person. They cannot seem to walk in a straight line. They will swerve from left to right, somehow repeatedly managing to block you from passing them without being able to see you. They can make a 10-foot wide hall seem two-feet wide. The worst sway arguably is the couples sway. Look out for that gong show.
The Eye Flirt: People who will eye-fuck the shit out of you as you walk through the hallway. Some see it as a confidence boost or a good way to meet people. Others are just really creeped out by it. To avoid this, you can stare straight ahead and not make eye contact with people (it will still occur, you will just be oblivious to it) or you can dress conservatively so people don't have a reason to stare.
This just touches on the encounters and unspoken rules that are associated with hallway walking. I hope the people who cause problems in the halls will be more aware and courteous so that everyone can get from point A to B without problems.