Monday, April 28, 2008

Get Outta My Personal Space

Mood: Calm
Listening to: Anthony Bourdain in China

So I was at Target with my kids the other day and I had the unfortunate experience of meeting someone who had absolutely no concept of the polite distance between strangers in the western hemisphere commonly known as personal space. We were in line at the snack bar (because, well, I had my kids along and at 3 pm, lunch still looked hours away if I didn’t eat while running errands) and I noticed that someone behind me was standing really, really close to me. As in touching my back with the side of her body. Now I’m not a touchy feely person. I am very, very jealous of my personal space and generally try to avoid touching people I don’t know. I got a little uncomfortable and inched forward. There wasn’t much room to move forward, as I was as close as comfortable to the guy in front of me. This person then scooted forward until she was touching me again. I’m not talking about bumping into me, I’m talking sustained contact. I turned around to see what in the world her problem was, but then she backed up an inch and wouldn‘t meet my eye and decided that the ceiling tiles were fascinating. I’ve come across skeevy guys who don’t have a concept of personal space or just want to cop a feel, but this was a chick! An older, middle aged woman chick! After I turned back around to talk to my four year old, she sidled up to me again. It was the weirdest thing I’ve come across in a long time.

As you probably know, I live in NY. Not bumbledum upstate NY, half hour from NYC NY. People are pretty eclectic here, but overall, educated and normal. So what gives? How did this normal looking middle age woman simply miss the personal space etiquette that is glaringly obvious in the US? We just paid for our food and scooted off really quickly, and she just left. I’m still not quite sure what happened there.


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