I volunteer with a well-know charity that looks after historical houses. One part of my job is to stand at the main entrance and be the ‘Welcome Volunteer’. This basically just involves handing out a plan of the property and answering any questions they may have. As couples tend to walk round together, I give out one plan between two (the organisation isn’t made of money!!).
The reaction from different people is very interesting. If I hand it equal distant between a man and a woman, more often than not the man will take it (and the woman will let him). If they don’t come through the door together, but one after the other, I hand it to whoever comes in first. If it’s the woman, she often passes it on to the man saying ‘You’d better have this’ or words to that effect. I have never once seen a man hand it to the woman.
Once inside the door, they have a decision to make – either left or right. It makes no difference, but they have to go one way or the other. Now, I don’t really care if the woman or the man wants to go one way and the other person is happy to go along with it. But I’m surprised at how often the man wants to go one way and the woman wants to go the other, and they go the way the man wants. And there is rarely any explanation for his choice. The men don’t say ‘I want to go this way because I especially want to see x’, or ‘That looks interesting, let’s go there first’. They often just say ‘It’s this way’ (it isn’t, you can go either way, and you’ve been told that twice by now!!) – and often the women look back at me, and shrug, and just follow on.
Sometimes, if I’m feeling a bit devilish, I’ll say to the woman ‘It’s OK, you can go the other way if you want’. But they never do…