November 04, 2006

Knees and Elbows Off My Chest

Very often on the subway I find myself sitting next to a man whose legs are spread wide apart. It never seems to bother him that his leg is rubbing up against mine. In fact, the more room I make for myself by squeezing together my own legs, the more his legs spread, increasing the annoyance factor. Not all men sit this way. In fact, some men sit very respectfully next to me, careful not to let their bodies invade the concept of my personal space - as if personal space were possible on a subway.

The other subway behavior that's been getting to me lately involves women's elbows. No matter what time of day I've been riding the subway when a woman sits next to me, she automatically starts rummaging through her bag which always makes her elbow stick up and out in my general direction. I usually bend slightly out of the way to make sure her incredibly jagged elbow doesn't nail me in the eye. This is another one of those cases where in spite of how much I control my own behavior the other person's behavior gets worse. The more I reign in my own elbows when I'm reading or going through my own bag, the more room I leave for the person next to me, to invade my personal space.

None of this is new to me or to any of you. I guess I'm just starting to get fatigued by the ebb and flow of too many people in too small a space.

It used to be that if I were in a crowded subway, closing my eyes would give me the relief I need. Because in the dark, you have all the room you need. But this remedy doesn't work when people are pushing up against you. It's only a solution for the problem of visual people clutter.

I've also tried the passive aggressive thing where you simply push back but these particular people don't seem to mind other people pushing against them.

I've concluded that the people who touch you with their knees and elbows don't mind when other people touch them which makes me think that they aren't really being rude at all. Because they don't have the same problems as someone like me who doesn't like strangers getting too close, it doesn't occur to them that their pointy elbows and invasive knees are a problem.

So, I continue to be fatigued. How do you get mad at someone who doesn't think they are doing anything wrong? They're like children.

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