Being that I, James Mullooly, am 100% of Irish decent, and being that I live in Fresno, I spent St. Patrick’s Day in San Fransisco. The Bay Area has a long tradition of Irish Immigration that will never be forgotten, no matter how much one drinks!! I blogged about TheAnthroGeek’s St. Patrick’s Day journey to San Fran elsewhere, but my main issue for this entry concerns human conveyance in crowded areas.
I admit to being a little claustrophobic and having personal space issues. I’ve lived in far more crowded areas than San Fransisco (like Kingston, Cairo, NYC, Bamako), so its not that I cannot handle crowds; rather, it’s that I do not understand them. This is not a good thing for a social scientist to admit to but there you go.
Being “TheAnthroGeek” that I am, I consulted the great compendium of knowledge that is the glorious field of Anthropology to better understand my predicament. Breaking news out today suggests that we have been walking for far longer than previously assumed. With all this practice we’ve had, you’d think navigating the streets of San Fransisco would be easier. Brian Richmond and William Jungers published their findings in the March 21 issue of Science (link here for an abstract or to today’s US News and World Report for news about it). Common anthropological sense placed hominid bipedalism at around 3.5 million years ago.
But even though we apparently had an extra few million years practice at walking, we still cannot do it without a great deal of dancing, bumping, apologizing and gazing. Although most may not consider this work, ask someone with agoraphobia about that – it is work, you can call it “social work” or the “work of culture” if you like as long as you look at it as labor. This was the main thing on my mind while jostling/being jostled along the streets of San Fransisco a few days ago.
Now back in Fresno, a place of wide parking lots, few trees and lots of elbow room, rare is it that I need to do that little minuet required of when two humans share a space too small for their requisite intimacy expectations.