The Realm of Personal Space

I wrote about personal space issues a few years ago. But even in a crowded restaurant there are ways to find peace and relative quiet.

Why, oh why do people seem to want to sit right on top of me? Well, not literally, but  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.”

Generally the movies I chose had been out for several weeks before I went to see them. (Trying to find personal space when you go to a brand new movie everyone wants to see is impossible). 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 around 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 restaurants are a different story. Since I like to read while enjoying my meal, I like a quiet spot. If the server leads me to an area full of babies and restless kids, I ask if I can get a quieter spot. This isn’t always possible, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

But this is what usually happens, and it isn’t the server’s fault. Generally once I get my lunch and start reading my book, a family or two (with babies and kids, of course) gets sat right nearby. Now this isn’t the restaurant’s or server’s fault; they have to fill tables and there isn’t a “quiet” room for readers.

Unless you are royalty, you don’t get to pick and choose. So I came up with my own solution that is easy and cheap—noise cancelling earplugs! It’s like magic; a baby’s shriek or whiny children just becomes muted white noise. Oh, it may look funny, but it sure beats ruining lunch and a good book.

Also, the parents of the shriekers, screamers, whiners and fusspots can’t really get upset with me as I don’t scowl or look daggers at their noisy offspring. It’s a cheap way to get peace in any situation, and it doesn’t bother anyone.

Winner, winner, quiet dinner!

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