The Imaginary Personal Space Conundrum

Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest

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. The 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. 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 claimed half my leg room for himself. I was astounded when the stranger sitting next to me put her arm on top of my arm. I pulled out my camera phone when the person seated behind me stretched his leg across my armrest, leaving me to look at his sock holes.

I’m willing to believe that sometimes these people don’t realise they are in your space. Yesterday, at the metro 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 top-up 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?”
“Yeah sure”

He did not move.

Instead seemed confused as to why I was looking at him expecting him to do something. While I have now ruled out  outright asking for personal space, I have begun compiling a list of ways to achieve it.

1) Do not shower for 3 days
2) Eat lots of garlic
3) Burp repeatedly
4) Talk to objects
5) Ask for money