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Lost In Space

Lost In Space
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BY JILL MATLOW

The other day I turned around and was staring into a big black hole. You probably think that metaphorically speaking I was deep in thought, ruminating about my problems and staring off into the distance.

But I was in my yoga class.

And it wasn’t a big black hole, but someone’s big black shirt rolled up into a ball and placed at the back of my yoga mat in a crowded class. The class had already started so I didn’t feel comfortable picking up the shirt and asking the member (albeit passive-aggressively) if perhaps she could put her shirt into one of the empty cubbies in the back of the room where people put their…you guessed it, clothes and purses!

Now, instead of inhaling and exhaling during downward dog, I pictured the big black shirt behind me turning into a growing sinkhole.

But during that time, it got me thinking about personal space, the lack thereof in NYC, and how claustrophobic and space-aware I’ve become ever since I moved to the city many years ago.

Are you also starting to turn the corner re: personal space issues?

Big Railroad Blues

I know I’m not alone. The other day, I read my friend Michelle’s post on Facebook about her experience on Long Island Railroad. On her commute into work that day, the car she was sitting in was virtually empty. Moments later, someone came into her train car and literally sat right next to her. What possesses people to do that?

Below the belt

The other times I notice personal space issues is at the grocery store. I’ve only experienced this in NYC when the person behind you acts like they just won the lottery when you tell them that it’s okay to start putting their items down on the conveyer belt behind you. Usually, they will stand there holding 10 items till you give them the go ahead that it’s okay to share that personal space with you. Does this phenomenon happen in the suburbs too or is this type of behavior restricted to big cities?

Speaking of grocery stores, like many of you, I’m a huge fan of Trader Joe’s. But that is definitely a store you don’t want to visit on a busy weekend. After navigating tight quarters, you find yourself in a checkout line that wraps around the aisles. Forget an item on your list? There’s no going back! Fortunately for me, there are many grocery stores in the city who offer delivery options.

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

My friend Mitchell used to have a 12-inch rule when he went to concerts, especially in small venues where there was only the option of general admission and standing room. He would tell me that there is no reason why anyone has to stand that close to you and ‘get up in your grill’ by standing closer than 12 inches away. Shortly after Mitchell pointed that out to me, I became hyper aware of how close people stand next to each other at general admission shows! I’m now a big fan of reserved seating. 

Giving someone the shaft

One of my favorite observations of ‘tight quarters’ is on an elevator. Don’t you just love when you’re the only one on the elevator and the door opens, a person walks in, and stands directly in front of you? Your breath is literally hitting the back of their neck. This happens time and time again and it always cracks me up. Maybe that person thinks the door will open and 12 people will try to pile in and the elevator might run out of space if they move up a few inches. 

The lady doth protest too much 

As most of you are aware, there are protests happening nationwide weekly. I’m very liberal when it comes to politics and usually agree with the majority, especially these days. I won’t get into the specifics (although I’m sure you can read between the lines).

But I have unfortunately drawn the line when it comes to marching in some of the protests where there are wall-to-wall people. Don’t get me wrong—I marched in a few—but I do realize that being in large crowds, surrounded by barriers, is a little too intense for me. I always need to know that I have an escape route and sometimes there are none in the crowded narrow streets of NYC.

I continue to be amazed by people who seem unphased by the crowds. I wish I could be one of those people.

Space oddity 

Are you like me regarding personal space issues or are you able to go with the flow and somehow rise above the chaos and crowds? What tricks do you employ to help you cope when someone starts encroaching on your personal space? We’d love to hear your stories.

As for me, I’m personally trying to be more tolerant in the future…especially in my crowded yoga classes.

Namaste.

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