Lately I’ve noticed more and more people warming up to the idea of affection. Hugging someone or kissing someone on the cheeks are more acceptable now than it was 5 to 10 years ago- which, in my opinion, is good because I love hugs. BUT for some people it just isn’t as welcome so this entry is all about drawing the line between what’s invasive of another’s personal space- physical or otherwise- and what isn’t.
A few weeks ago I was sitting on a train, minding my own business when this middle-aged woman bursts into a full on confrontation about how close to her I was sitting. To be honest, I don’t know what she means. It’s a friggin’ public transport for Pete’s sake. Does she want me to jump off the train? How far really is ‘not too close’? If there’s one thing I learned though about confrontational and irritable people, it’s never to engage them on a petty matter. The trouble you’ll get into is much worse than the gratification you’ll earn for telling them off so this little lady marched herself a few meters away from her and stood for the next 3 stops.
It did get me to thinking though. How do you really qualify personal space? Physically, does it mean you can’t stand a feet from another person? How about in lines then or public transports or concerts, do you still have to follow that rule? If yes then that is a really impractical way to live and quite frankly, a bit sad. If not, then is it solely based on context then? There are places where you have to keep your distance and there are those where you don’t have to. There are situations, moods even, when you can allow a hug or a greeting and there are situations where you just randomly tell someone sitting right beside you on the train off.
I think the latter makes more sense because majority of people understand that human contact is inevitable in a populated world which means that Ms. Give-Me-My-Personal space must be a having a meltdown to snap at me like that. So here’s my advice if ever this happens to you, calm down and let it go. Trust me, she knows she was being silly but even if she never realizes it, a seat beside someone who can go off like that is never worth it. *wink*