No No… I am not talking about the popular Social Networking site, but MY SPACE. About transgressions that just make us feel uncomfortable, squeamish, anxious, alarmed, and downright violated. It’s the attack of the personal-space invaders!!! Personally, I have an unspoken expectation that I’ll be granted, a small “bubble” of sanctuary around me, and when someone pops that bubble by standing or sitting too close or extending an unexpected touch, I feel intruded upon. BTW I’ll have you know that I am not alone!! Research has it that our perception of personal space is one of our deepest and most powerful forms of nonverbal communication, and we expect other people to play by the rules. So there are many like me… phew…
Honestly, sometimes I feel like the universe likes to test my patience by putting me in close proximity with people who have a very different concept of ‘personal space’. I am told that people coming from busy congested environments tend to need lesser space! I beg to differ!! I am from Delhi and you can’t get more congested than that. But even as a youngster I remember catching early buses to avoid those horrible people with garlic breath breathing over your shoulder!!!
Don’t you have that occasional friend who breathes in your face while she talks? Have you not come across a lady on the bus who decides you won’t mind her armpit in your face. The impatient man in the cinema queue who steps on your shoes every time you take a step forward. You get onto an almost-empty bus, but the next passenger inexplicably decides to bypass dozens of vacant seats to sit right next to you. And yes, the person at the supermarket who truly believes standing closer to you in the checkout line will get him to the front faster. Most of us have been there. Of course, if you hadn’t had this problem chances are you are the person who is invading someone else’s space 😉
Aeroplanes are particularly challenging because you are stuck next to the same people for hours. I didn’t know how to react to the gentleman (and I use the term gentleman loosely) who decides to put his head on my shoulder for a power nap on a forty minute flight. And the lady on the plane who moved the seat back in a relaxing position just as my dinner arrived. And the person seated behind me stretching his leg across my armrest, leaving me to look at his sock holes not to mention smell the stale stench… yuck….. Oh and how can I forget the lady who brought her kid a Tuna sandwich as a snack on a low fare flight! Most thoughtless…
I’m willing to believe that sometimes these people don’t realise they are in your space. Yesterday, at the station, I decided to try a different approach and bring it to the person’s attention. Just as I was about to insert my debit card into the self-service ticket vending machine, an unknown gentleman decided to stand 2cm to my right and peer into the screen.
“Would you mind giving me some space please?”
He looked at me quizzically.
“You know… personal space?”
He did not move. Instead seemed confused as to why I was looking at him expecting him to do something. All I could do was roll my eyes up and hope to finish the transaction NOT get a receipt and be on my way.
I always wonder how something that comes to me so naturally should completely bypass others. I have tried being polite, being rude, looking annoyed, make exasperated sounds and they have all fallen on deaf (not to mention dumb) ears!!!! So as of today I have ruled out outright asking for personal space, I have now begun compiling a list of ways to achieve it!!! And boy!!! Am I having a blast just compiling them!!!! <evil grin>
1) Not shower before I leave home
2) Eat lots of garlic
3) Burp repeatedly
4) Talk to objects
5) Ask for money
6) Shout into your mobile phone as you talk
7) Eat Tuna Sandwiches in closed spaces (Damn I am a vegetarian!)
8) Keep my elbows on the armrests on either side of my seat
9) Dirty socks (definitely smelly socks)
10) Keep a large bag next to me
11) Stare at people and allow them to think you are stalking them (wicked grin)
12) Start up a conversation about your upset stomach!
13) Break into an annoying song and keep repeating one line
14) Unwashed clothes or Synthetic clothes in summer
15) And last but not the least No DEO just BO