Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

People Herding

Years ago before the birth of I used to have more "free time" to socialize and would periodically hang out with a good friend (and fun loving Taurus food critic) by the name of Gary Don.

Eventually our friendship, like many friendships do, went into decline. Mainly because when he got engaged his wife-to-be didn't understand the concept of men and women being platonic friends and put the kibbosh on any ongoing socializing between the two of us.

My own guy was cool with the two of us being friends (and became quite fond of Gary) but his lady was not. She even (unfairly in my opinion) banned me from attending their wedding (she thought it was inappropriate for some reason) which honestly hurt my feelings since Gary and I had been friends for many years at the point they married.

I honestly loved GD, as I called him, as just a friend and nothing more but I guess his wife had watched too many episodes of Harry Met Sally and that was that. Hey, it happens even with female friends who marry guys we don't click with.  Sometimes friendships don't always endure the test of time although I am grateful for the three "best friends" ala Sex And The City, I have had for many years

At any rate, during our active hanging out period GD (who still does emails with me sometimes) shared some of his really fun and interesting philosophies of life that are true gems and have served me well the many years since.

My favorite GD philosophy is the concept of People Herding. I had always vaguely noticed it but never had a label until GD named it and put it into perspective. Since GD defined it, I have worked hard to break the herding mold. Sometimes with success, sometimes not.

Today was a classic people herding example. I had a working lunch at Einstein's Bagels with part of my marketing team - B and The Streak.

When we arrived at the restaurant, it was mostly empty. There was a line of high top tables with stools along one side near the windows that was completely deserted. Hoping for a little privacy, B and I selected one of the high tables in the empty row and settled in while The Streak waited for her egg burrito.

Sure enough, even though the entire row of high tables were completely empty, two teen females sat down right next to our table and were so close that one of the young ladies was bumping into me while she was swinging her arms at his table. Now that is wayyyyyyyyy too close for comfort.

Why in the hell did those two girls have to sit on top of us when there were several high top tables open and not directly next to us. Even worse, most of the tables in the restaurant had cleared out and were also empty.

"It's herding" I informed B and The Streak. Yep. Classic GD People Herding.

What does that mean? Have you ever driven your car into a completely empty parking lot? I mean deserted, with no other car in the entire place. The next car that drives into the parking lot parks right next to your car. I mean, adjacent to your car. Never mind that the entire lot is empty. They park on one side of your car. In fact, they might even park so close you have visions of new dings and scratches.

Why? Herding. Just like cows, pigs, horses and other animals.

It doesn't just happen in parking lots and Einstein's Bagel shops. Nope. Check out the movie theater. Go early and sit in a completely empty theater. As people start to enter they will make a beeline for your area. I have even tried sitting right in front of the screen to discourage herding and it doesn't work. Next thing you know, I am surrounded by people.

It actually happened to me and The Streak at a Starbucks some weeks ago. We were sitting in a completely deserted Starbucks at a table. None of the other tables were occupied. Then a group of three young women came into the shop, ordered drinks and you guessed it. They sat at the empty table right next to us. Almost in our laps, they were so close. Never mind that there were at least 10 other tables where they could have parked themselves.

They proceeded to talk and laugh so loudly that The Streak and I couldn't hear ourselves talk. And we had been there first.

We got up and moved to the far other side of the store. Then the most extreme example of herding occurred. The three young women got up and moved across the store and again sat right next to us. We were so flabbergasted we got up and left. At least they couldn't get into the car with us, its a two seater.

I could go on with literally 50 examples of herding that occurs in just about every imaginable life situation. I will admit that human herding does come in handy when you are trying to meet hot guys (or hot ladies if you are so inclined), but other than that it's a royal pain in the ass.

While GD named People Herding, he also wisely told me how to minimize its impact.

One way is to always try and park in parking lots with big corners. At least you can control how close the herders park next to you. When attending the movies, go early, let the herders form their clustering around you and then right before the movie starts, get up and go sit where you really wanted to sit in the first place. That minimizes your risk of people coughing, spitting and eating on top of you in the dark.

Other Herding Dodge tactics include piling your coats and other belongings on the table right next to where you sit to prevent interlopers like today. I don't recommend this tactic when the entire restaurant is full, but when at least 50% of the tables are open, it offers some instant herding and eavesdropping protection.

The Streak, when discussing Herding Behaviors explained that certain nationalities like to be close while others don't.

Maybe because I grew up in a small house with four other people or had a best friend with eight brothers and sisters we were always trying to ditch, I prefer my space - thank you very much.

Do you have some great Human Herding examples? I have experienced it in church, bars, departments, even changing rooms at Target. I would love to hear them, especially how you evade the herd. In the meantime, fly low and away from the crowds.

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