Side of the street that is. I had a revelation a few weeks ago – although to be honest, it’s a little embarrassing that this didn’t occur to me several years earlier (by at least a decade).
I’ll start by admitting that I am clumsy. Even if a doorway were to be 10 feet wide, you could bet money on the chances of me bumping into the sides. It’s just the kind of person I am.
Once when I was coming back from lunch with a co-worker when I lived in Korea, he commented that people seemed to bump into me a lot. He was right – even for a country where the concept of personal space doesn’t really exist, I did seem to get jostled a lot more than most. I just put it down to my general clumsiness. Clearly I walk into people in the same way that I walk into door jams and slow-to-open automatic doors.
BUT a few weeks ago, on the stairwell in the college library I suddenly understood- I walk on the wrong side of the street! It all made sense: People in the UK drive on the left, but here (and in Korea) they drive on the right. As I dodged people on the library stairs, I realized they were coming up on the right, whereas I was going down on the left which, if you think about it, is the same side. (Trust me – I even made my husband act it out to make sure before writing this.) I’d never given any thought to the side I was walking on, but now that I think about it, it completely makes sense that we tend to walk on the same side as we drive, even when going up and down stairs. It also explains why I didn’t get bumped into half as often when I lived in Japan. They walk on MY side!
Subtle cultural differences – they get you when you least expect. So, which side are you on?