I believe the world is made up out of two types of people. The people who understand the concept of personal space. And those who don't.
If you are a bit like me, you like shopping but not the queues. I don't know many people who like queues. The waiting, the slowness of the people before you, the salesgirl who seems to have lost the ability to type or scan. But these examples aren't the worst things to happen to me while in a queue.
Last week I was at the Chinese grocerystore down in China town, stocking up on my dwindling supply of pot noodles and jasmine tea. It's one of the busiest stores and on a Saturday it's like discount day at Macy's (or Harrod's - depending on what country you live in). So I was expecting a long queue at the counter.
What I wasn't expecting was the gangly, stooping man behind me who did a good impression of trying to give my head a lice-inspection.
Now I'm a petite girl so first of all I don't stick out in a crowd too much and when it comes to people not noticing me, it happens occassionally. But that still doesn't mean that they can take over my space as theirs! And that goes for you too.
Highly annoyed with the hair inspection going on behind me I was trying to think of ways to tell this guy to get lost.
My easiest option would have been to just walk away. Pretend I forgot something for my already overflowing basket and leave the queue. But taking a quick peek at the amount of people behind me, I opted out on that one.
If I had had a cart or a trolley, life would have been sweet because I could just have stood next to it or in front of it, putting the cart between me and Mr Invasive.
Though out of luck with the carts, I did have my basket! And when the person in front of me stepped forward I stepped to and immediately turned sideways, putting the basket between us, thus creating (albeit only a little) space.
Even though this technique has worked perfectly in the past, like they say when investing "performance in the past is no guarantee for the future". Which was true with this dude. Not caring whether my basket was about to relieve him of future children, he took another step forward. Practically pushing me over trying to avoid him.
So as I nearly tripped - pushing the person in front of me and getting a death glare from them - I did the same! I whipped my head up and gave him the death glare. Who did he think he was? And I didn't feel guilty about it because who knows? He could have been trying to steal my purse! It's a big city, these things happen.
The response I got was nothing short of a wet blanket. He ignored me.
Feeling insulted and obviously crowded it was time I stepped up. And I did the brave thing. The thing that any person should do if they feel in any way unhappy with people standing to close.
'Excuse me but would you mind? You're standing very close and it's making me uncomfortable. We all have to wait and it won't go any faster with you trying to push me through this man in front of me.'
It worked like a charm. The man apologized, blushing a little, and took a careful step back.
Most people probably don't even realise that they are in your personal space and though it's a little scary, they just need a little reminder. Whether it's with your basket or your glare, make clear that what's going on is not OK. Just remember that YOU should feel happy about where you are!
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