I have a pet peeve that apparently annoys no one but me. It has to do with the amount of space people leave between them and the person in line in front of them. Inside the bank, the post office or the Dunkin Donuts, the guy in front of me always seems to stand a good six feet behind the customer who is currently being waited on. It’s as if he is fearful of eavesdropping on a confession. Right, I tell the coffee shop cashier my deepest secrets. Don’t you?
“Move UP!” I want to scream. “He’s ordering a large coffee with cream and one sugar, not planning a hostile takeover!”
For years I have observed only men doing this. Women appear much more comfortable cozying up to the stranger standing in front or behind them. A couple of feet of space is more than enough. They don’t act like the male customers at CVS, for example, who allow so much wasted space between them and the person at the counter that I could push four shopping carts – ear to ear – through the space. And this reminds me. I really hate when this happens and I invariably get pushed back down an aisle, where I find myself staring at on-sale Christmas candy. Come on. You know I’m weak.
But lately, I have found that women have begun developing the same habit, backing off from the person in line in front of them, as though they forgot to bathe. Frequently, they are so preoccupied texting or talking on their cell phones that they are completely oblivious to the cavernous spaces they create.
Does anyone else see the irony in all of this? With social media, cell phones, and cameras on every inanimate and animate object, we already have zero privacy. So why do we suddenly feel the need to create a force field around us when we are actually WITH other human beings.
We hold onto our little personal acreage like squatters, forcing the person behind the counter to yell across the room, “Can I help the next in line?”
I hate this part, too. I don’t want to yell from my otherworldly location, “Make that a double caramel latte with vanilla and non-fat.” Whose business is it to judge me on my breakfast drink? Hah, a double caramel latte with syrup and she bothers with skim milk! I can actually hear the snickers.
Well, I would, if I weren’t standing so far away.