You’re standing too close to me

I sometimes wonder if walking around like this would prove my point or make me appear standoffish.

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

That refrain from the 1980 song by The Police pops into my head almost every time I stand in a checkout line at a grocery store, a convenience store or any store or line for that matter. And, not because I’m a young schoolgirl crushing on my teacher or vice versa.

It never fails. No matter what line I’m in, the individual behind me always sandwiches himself as close to my body as possible. As in I can feel someone else’s breath on my neck. As if standing that close to me can make the line move more quickly.

Yesterday, I was in a grocery-store line, standing an appropriate 2 feet from the woman in front of me, who was unloading her items onto the conveyor belt. A cart brushed me from behind. I ignored it. Then, it brushed me on my left side, as the woman pushing it moved it closer to the belt. She then stood RIGHT behind me.

I thought about turning around and going all Patrick Swayze on her: “This is my space (motioning my arm’s length), and, this is your space (motioning her arm’s length).” But, I refrained. I unloaded my items onto the belt and placed a divider behind them and stepped back. Before I could step back the entire way, she practically pushed me aside to begin putting her items onto the belt.

While the woman in front of me took 15 minutes to enter, re-enter and re-enter again her debit card pin, I revisited the notion that there is a bit of a divide between my view of acceptable personal space and others’ views of acceptable personal space. A divide that has become much more noticeable since I began living in Canada.

I’ll save you a review of all the psychological studies that have been done on proxemics and personal space and the comparisons made between cultures and simply tell you that Americans are partial to their personal space, while many, many other nations are less partial to theirs. Canadians, in general, are similar to their American neighbours. However, Canada houses far more nationalities than the United States. And, those nationalities hold far more different views of one’s personal space.

I’m OK with that. It’s just a bit of an adjustment on my part. Perhaps next time I’m standing in line and someone breathes on me from behind, I’ll simply turn around and hug him. Or her.

Or, perhaps, I’ll break out in song.

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

After all, who doesn’t love The Police?

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3 thoughts on “You’re standing too close to me

  1. lucas says:

    if by “hug” you mean “pepper spray” … then i totally agree!

  2. Tom says:

    One suggestion is to always use a shopping cart even if you aren’t buying much. As you enter the check-out lane, go ahead of the cart and pull the cart in behind you. The cart becomes a buffer and a barrier. It also becomes a gate that you can open only when you are ready to allow the person behind you to reach the conveyor belt. Keep a hand on the cart to prevent the person behind you from advancing your cart before you are ready. Slant the cart sideways and wedge it against the end of the coveyor belt if they are really aggressive.

    • jilladuling says:

      You sound like you’ve been around the grocery store block a time or two, Tim. Excellent advice!!

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