Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Personal Space

As someone who's lived abroad in a relatively small country (think: Montana-sized) with over 80 million people crammed into it, I've had my share of shoulder, elbow, hip, and leg bumping with strangers while walking down the street, standing in line at any store, and navigating my way around public transport--buses, trams, subways, ferries-yes, ferries. I'm used to non-Americans taking up more space around me than I'm comfortable with. They're foreign, that's what they do here and in their home countries. What I'm not yet used to are the scores of NYC folk who do the same thing, and expect me to take it. "Get offa me!" is what I say inside my head when the pushy single mom drags her kid literally almost across my lap to the seat next to me on the subway. "Come on! Come on! Sit down here!" mommy demands. Yeah, not "drape yourself over this unsuspecting recent transplant's lap." Grr.
Poor kid has probably been bumped up against strangers her whole life, and doesn't realize that it's not okay. She was actually leaning into me a bit for the few stops that we both shared the subway seat. Maybe that was supposed to have been my cue to stand up and let momma have a seat on our somewhat crowded train. Ooops! Too bad.

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