Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I am not a freak!

People all have a need for personal space. That circle you draw around your physical person that people you don’t know very well or certainly people you don’t known at all – should never cross. If they do, you feel uncomfortable, sometimes intimidated or even threatened.

I was reading someplace the other day, could have been on a blog I suppose but with my lack of brain cells these days – who knows, that people from different places have different comfort levels when it comes to their personal space. For example, they said the average American likes a healthy 2 1/2 to 3 feet of distance between themselves and someone they are talking to or standing in line next to at the grocery store.

The same thing I was reading (Was it an article? A post?) said that the average European is more comfortable with a smaller circle of space. I have forgotten what the number was but it was markedly different from what an American needs to have. I mean – something crazy like – under 2 feet – even when it’s someone they don’t know! I’m getting queasy here.

I did not realize how true that was until I was standing in line for a hot dog the other day. I’m not sure it was worth it after feeling my skin crawling the whole time. I was just standing there zoning out like one does when they are waiting for a hot dog, and I felt someone come up behind me. Instinctively I stepped to the side thinking that somebody was trying to pass and there wasn’t enough room.

Um, no. It was a lady with her 2 small boys, who was intent on purchasing food from the same place I was and was joining the line.

If the line was up my butt!!!

She was oblivious to me as she spoke to her boys in a Slavic sort of language that I did not understand, and breathed into my hair while doing it. I swear the hair on her arms was brushing the hair on mine, and I really don’t have a whole lot of hair there! She went from one side of me to the other side of me, reading the sign on the wall, all the time making me extremely uncomfortable and left me thinking about just how right what I had read about personal space was! And I never realized it.

I’m friendly, I like people, but if I don’t know you, or you are not my BF or part of my immediate family, STEP BACK. Please. Because now I have it on some sort of authority (even if I can’t remember who said it where and what they based it on) that I am only reacting as a normal American would. You?


Fraulein N said...

You know what I hate? When that situation occurs and I move away a bit ... only to have the other person follow me. Gah!

I think there are differences in preferred personal space even in different parts of the country. I once had a professor from the Midwest tell me about getting suspicious stares from people in line at the ATM here in Philly. Then he observed the space people left between them and the next person (wider than he was used to) and realized he was standing, for this region, kind of close.

LadyBanana said...

I'm going to have a think about this one and look out for how much space I feel comfortable with - I'm actually not sure..

BetteJo said...

I'm not really aware of it, until someone is too close. Gives me the heebie jeebies.

Lavender said...

Aw yeah - I hate it when that happens - really flesh crawling feeling ICKKY!!! Im sure culture has something to do with it, but when youre creeped out, its hard to take comfort in that, eh? LOL