Personal Space Issues

Why, oh why do people seem to want to sit right on top of me? Well, not literally, but pretty dang too close for comfort. I used to do an experiment years ago when I went to the movies alone. I’d pick a good seat; not too close, not too far and right on an aisle. Perfect—until people started gravitating to “my area.” Look, I can certainly understand that if I went to a brand-new movie, first showing, that of course it would be crowded–that’s to be expected.

Generally the movies I chose had been out for several weeks before I went to see them, though. I’d find my seat among a sea of empty ones, and near an aisle. But as other people walked in to the theater, where did they end up sitting? You got it–right near me. I think it’s herd mentality; a lot of people don’t like being alone (only weirdos like me). So, I would start my experiment: I’d wait out the trailers, clips, ads, etc., almost until the feature movie started. By that time, dozens of people had moved in around me–like pigeons on a wire. Just as the feature film started, I would get up and leave the “people cocoon” that had gathered near me. Then I’d find another spot where I could sit at a reasonable distance from others, and still be on the aisle (I like fast get-aways). Neat-o. The herd stayed put, and I had a new, fairly people-free spot.

But of course, that’s not the end of my personal space issues. The same thing happens in buses, trains and in restaurants. I realize that in public transport, you really don’t have much choice. (I said I have some personal space issues, not that I’m another Howard Hughes.)

Just the other day at work during lunchtime I chose a table that hardly anyone ever uses, and laid out my lunch, my book and my water. Generally I like to eat alone, but of course, if a friend of mine comes to join me, I happily put down my book and enjoy their company. This week we had quite a few visitors from other countries as our guests. Not being an expert on other countries’ personal space issues (and I know that in some countries people will literally get right in your face), I sat down at my empty table to have my lunch.

Mind you, there were at least eight other tables, most of which were empty. I had no sooner picked up my fork when one of our visitors walked into the lunch room. He scanned the room, and out of the nine tables available to him, he chose mine. Not only that, but he sat Right. Next. To. Me. No ‘hello, mind if I sit here?’, no nothing. He just plopped his butt and his laptop down and starting clicking away. Fortunately, he didn’t have any annoying habits like singing to himself, popping his knuckles, sighing, chewing gum, taking off his shoes and clipping his toenails (yes, that actually DID happen to me once), burping, farting, or picking his teeth.

So what did I do? I let it go. Seriously, I just let it go. Does that mean I have suddenly become more aware, more politically correct, kinder, nicer, gentler, more 1,000-points-of-light type of person? Nope. I just was too lazy to get up. Besides, he might have thought me rude. Surprisingly, that’s probably the first time I really thought of it. Prior to that, I always got so annoyed at people “in my space” that I never thought to just go with the flow and not let it bother me.

Am I getting to be a better person? Or just an older person too lazy to move? Right now, the later is probably true.

Meh—space issues, schpace issues.



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