Saturday, July 05, 2008

Too Close for Comfort

I was on the subway the other day – it is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get around the downtown core. Parking is always expensive – if you can even find a spot to park in.

I’ve noticed more people are taking public transit these days – can’t blame them with the constant gauging of the big oil companies. The subways have always been busy during rush hour, and unfortunately, that always makes for a very tight squeeze on the trains.

We all have our comfort zones, especially when in the proximity of strangers. Some of us, don’t mind people within inches of our face, but for the most part, we like to keep some distance between us and them.

We all are experts in body language too – those unspoken vibes we give off through a combination of facial expressions and body positioning.

Typically, if someone gets too close for our comfort zone, we’ll give them the right signals which usually causes the offender to back off. These signals may be us moving away, a quick jerking away of our bodies, and many more common signals.

While I was on the subway, a couple of teenage girls, probably in their late teens or early twenties, got on and stood next too me. At first they kept a safe distance, which I liked. Then, the one closest too me invaded my comfort zone. She was literally brushing up against me.

The subway was overcrowded, as per usual during rush hour, but still, there was no reason this person had for coming that close. I moved off a couple of times, looked her way in disgust and even took a wider stance, to say “this is my space.”

She either didn’t get the message, or more likely, got the message, and decided she just wanted to play a game – what that game was, I wasn’t sure.

Maybe she was trying to get my attention out of some attraction? Maybe she just was a mean perverse kid, trying to see how far she could push a complete stranger? Maybe she just wanted more space?

Who knows? But I wasn’t amused – and my body language was doing a lot of yelling at this point – others around me were giving me far more space than they were before, so much so, they were cramping on the space of those around them.

Still, this young girl kept getting closer. I stepped on her feet a couple of times – sometimes accidentally, sometimes not, in the hopes she’d realize there just wasn’t enough space for the both of us.

Eventually, my stop came and I took some sweet revenge. Usually, I’ll be polite and excuse myself through the crowd. This time, I just pushed her out of the way with my umbrella, and left the train. I heard her yell “hey!” but I didn’t care. The doors to the train closed, and she and the train took off down the tracks.

Rude people suck – but I think those others treat with rudeness and disrespect often bring this onto themselves. Normally I’m not rude – but this kid caused me to lose my patience, and in the end, treating her badly.

But she’s one of zillions of blurred faces whizzing past on a subway train. She’ll probably never see me again – and I certainly could care less if I saw her again.

I’m just thankful I brought my umbrella that day!

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