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7 People Who Need to Get Out of the Freaking Way

Sometimes the universe brings people into your life who seem to know just what you need at that very moment, and then they stand right between you and that thing. There is a colorful term for one specific type of that person, namely "cockblocker," but there are a lot of other types whose blockage is aimed at things other than the union of genitals.

#7. People Who Stand in Front of the Most Useful Thing in the Room

When the average working person goes to the break room, he or she is usually planning to do something in it other than admire the architecture. Like possibly use one of the items in the room, like the fridge, or the coffee machine, or the sink. With great frequency, they will find a pack of Chatty Cathys strategically placed in front of each of the things they are planning to use.

Never mind that there's some fine patches of blank wall or empty counter anyone could stand in front of. Or how about the legally mandated employee rights and labor laws posters? I'm pretty sure that's why the government requires them to be posted in every break room, to create a permanent patch of wall nobody ever needs to use or look at. It's a sort of decorated "stand here please" wallpaper.

Aron Gent
Ain't nobody reading this, OSHA.

I can get that if there's nowhere else to stand, you'd stand in front of the coffee pot or the fridge, but if I ever do that, I stay alert to anyone entering the room, casting furtive glances at the item, and am ready to move at a moment's notice, whereas most people seem completely baffled by why you are standing in front of them and just try to ignore you like you are some rude weirdo.

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"Why would anyone ever need to use one of these?"

So fine, fair enough. You say, "Excuse me," because people can't read your mind, after all, and maybe they could reasonably think you are in love with them but have some social disorder where you don't know that you shouldn't stare directly at people, which has to be more likely than the possibility that you want to use the frequently used machine behind them, and clearly the empty coffee mug you are holding is just a red herring clue they don't want to be distracted by. So you say, "Excuse me," which should clear everything up.

Then invariably they move from standing in front of the coffee maker to standing in front of the coffee condiments, which means that after you have poured your coffee, you are going to have to ask them to excuse you again, after which they'll probably stand in front of the garbage can so you can't throw your stirrer and empty sugar packet away. And there's a limit to how much you can help them out, because saying "Excuse me" is acceptable enough, but "How about you just stand in front of the stupid labor laws?" is considered patronizing.

You'll see the same thing in many other places, too, like the gym, where people will go pick up some weights from the weight rack, and then start lifting those weights right in front of it, because come on, who else is going to want to get weights? In a gym?

#6. People Who Just Want to "Get in Real Quick"

Specifically, people who want to "get in real quick" to do the same thing you were doing. I don't have any objection to someone who asks if they can get in real quick because they only have one item when I have a shopping cart full of assorted groceries and am planning to argue about some of the coupons. Other people with mass purchases have voluntarily let me go first in those situations, and I think it's a fine thing and don't mind doing the same for others.

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Especially when I am purchasing a child. The paperwork takes forever.

But someone who only has one item and wants to get ahead of you when you also only have one item is kind of a dick, especially when they're not really asking you but telling you, and slip in without waiting for an answer. It's not only grocery stores, but also when you're trying to get somewhere in a crowd and some asshole behind you decides you don't really need to be anywhere but are just enjoying the autumn air or contemplating life or something.

In reality, you're in a damn hurry to get through the postgame crowd and find a bathroom, but a gaggle of cross-traffic just blocked your way, forcing you to stop until they pass. Now that they've passed, the way is clear for you to go forward, only this dipshit behind you has decided the way was clear the whole time and you were just standing there because you are enjoying the atmosphere, so they cut in front of you as you're stepping forward into the gap, and say, "I just need to get in here," because they are the only ones who want to leave the arena and you and everyone else in the crowd obviously are slack-jawed morons who want to hang out there all night or until your keepers come get you.

I've also been at a soda machine, about to get a soda, when someone else says they "just need to get in real quick," and it turns out they want to ... get a soda, like I was about to do.

It seems like the only time it's appropriate is as a very honest pickup line.

#5. People Who Stand Right in Front of Elevator Doors

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Elevators and subway cars are two things people seem to really really want to get into, despite the fact that they are often smelly and urine-stained. But as the old saying goes, you have to ride the pee car or you'll never get to the office.

Sometimes elevators and trains can be really crowded, and it's understandable that riders want to get a jump on the competition and make sure they get in first, before it fills up. That's the kind of thinking that leads you to push an old couple onto the third rail, hoping you will move up two places in line, when actually they just end up stopping all the trains and the police come in and you not only don't get on this one, but you don't get on another train for three hours and your boss makes you stay late. That's probably what would happen if you hypothetically did such a thing.

Equally counterproductive is standing right in front of the doors as they open, blocking the exiting passengers. You see, in order for you to get on a crowded train or elevator, someone on board needs to step out. Unless that person is a ghost, they cannot get out by passing through you.

I have seen many people deal with this impasse by staring at the passengers inside the elevator impatiently, as if wondering why they don't get out. Or they consider moving in any the four compass directions, three of which would allow passengers to exit, and take the fourth one, by trying to charge forward into the elevator through sheer willpower.

Quite often, the people inside just have to try to squeeze their way out past the glowering obstacle, which requires Eastern European levels of personal space invasion, and face-to-face at that.

I don't know why they can't stand just to the side of the elevator door, which is still just one step away from the elevator and doesn't make it look like you are lining up to kiss everyone inside as they step out.

#4. People Who Are in Denial About the Size of Their Backpacks

If you've ever gone to college, you've probably run into this scenario at some point -- you're trying to walk down a narrow aisle in a bookstore, only to be blocked by a fellow shopper browsing the shelves. He takes up about half of the 36-inch aisle (the minimum width allowed by the Americans With Disabilities Act), and his backpack takes up the other half.

You say, "Excuse me," and he's polite enough to scoot forward a few inches, and goes back to reading the book he isn't going to buy. You look, and there's about 4 inches of clearance behind his backpack. "Um sorry," you say, "I still can't ..." and he scoots forward until he's pressed against the shelf in front of him, staring at you bizarrely, like he can't believe you can't get by with what must be a massive gulf behind him. Eventually, you call upon your yoga training and breathing exercises and manage to make it through the 6-inch gap he's given you, his backpack snapping back into place as you pop through.

After that clue, he might idly reach a hand back to see how far his backpack goes, and maybe, if he's a very self-aware type, take it off and put it on the floor. Or maybe turn sideways the next time someone comes by to pass. Pretty often, though, these people are still not clear what the problem was and go back to reading the free book in the store.

For some reason, most people seem to severely underestimate the size of their backpacks. The mental perception of most backpack wearers is that it adds a negligible width to their profile, when on a lot of high school and college campuses, it's pretty common for backpacks to double or even triple a person's front-to-back measurement, depending on how skinny they are.

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School backpacks -- slim and fitted like a second skin.

You see this in the aisle-passing problem, and you also see it when backpacks are slung on the backs of chairs and someone tries to get by. For some reason, the backpack owner imagines the backpack to be about 4 inches deep at most, and doesn't even consider that two backpack-laden chairs, back to back, can completely block a passage. You get the same slight scooting forward and the same confused annoyance that this isn't enough to let the walker by. You might also get the self-righteous grumble that the walker would dare touch the backpack as they squeeze by it, because they figure the walker has plenty of space and is just pushing the backpack on purpose as they go by, to be a drama queen or something.

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