At work, I am not sure how it is even possible, but the corners of the walls between hallways seem to be especially sharp 90 degree turns. Now usually I wouldn’t imagine this being much of an issue. In fact, it gives nice and clean definition between hallways. But it is a whole new world when carrying a cup of coffee.
First off, I have trouble carrying cups of coffee while walking in a straight line. Back in middle school my friends would make fun of me because I bounced when I walked. I blame this on unnaturally large feet. I guess I eventually grew into them, though. I am about 6-1 with size 13 shoes. But I digress.
In addition to the act of carrying a cup of liquid that is not only scolding hot, but also threatens to leave a very large stain on my pants and or shirt with all the hours of the workday to go is probably more intimidating than walking a tight rope while juggling! And this is where the workplace waltz comes into the scene.
As you know, the waltz is a 3-step dance, usually at a quick pace. When walking around the hallways of work, the workplace waltz is a very common defensive move to avoid collisions with other co-workers. Whether you are carrying a cup of coffee or taking a brisk walk to stretch your legs between meetings, those sharp corners can get you. I am a fast walker to begin with. I tend to think that the time it takes to travel to a destination is time wasted (Although I do thoroughly enjoy my commute to and from work as that is my NPR time). As I am walking down the main hallway in my building, which tends to resemble an airport terminal, if I am not walking down the center of the hallway, certain human obstacles tend to jump out from random doorways or hallway connections. You know how this works, someone protrudes perpendicular to you, both of you are at full speed, Isaac Newton lifts his head up to chuckle as his laws have the potential to, yet again, lead to another disastrous and inevitably hilarious collision.
Looking to the side just in time to see another surprised face which undoubtedly mirrors the expression on my own face, I lift my right foot, twist my body and set it behind me so I am now facing at the 45 degree to the object of potential collision, which of course thanks to Newton throws me off balance. While my body threatens to fall and my right foot is now haphazardously planted, I take my left foot and bring it back to my right for step two and some stability. Since my right foot was initially planted without much thought other than “Yikes, avoid the ouchee!” it quickly gets lifted up and planted in a more authoritative position next to the left foot. All the while I have turned my body between 45 degrees and 180 degrees to avoid this collision.
All the energy that my body had in the forward horizontal motion was transferred to a stylish and safe three step workplace waltz.
Now for those of you reading this post, thinking about the near collisions you have had, remember that this is a fairly intermediate maneuver, not recommended for most new hires and interns without proper training. For the sake of workplace safety, there should be collision avoidance training for all new employees in an office building. For those co-workers that have not had this training, they might fall flat on their face, tripping over their feet. Some may just tense up and take the collision.
After mastering the workplace waltz, there are other applications of this maneuver that can take you into an advanced awareness of workplace safety. Remember that scolding hot cup of coffee we chatted about earlier? Well just remember, since your movement/energy is horizontally forward, it is not just your body that will want to keep moving forward, but also the cup of steaming liquid as well. I won’t go into too many details, but just as you transfer your energy into a turn, take consideration of the centrifugal force that you experience on a roller coaster loop or airplane, and angle your coffee cup, so that the liquid level stays level throughout the turn.
Hold those coffee cups away from your bodies, friends. Take those corners in the office cautiously slow. No one wants to spend the work day with big brown stains down their nice collared shirt.
Good luck out there!