2017-09-27 / Editorials

Don’t hem me in

All That’s Fit to Print
Brenda Wall

Personal space is a real issue for me. It is that invisible yet palpable area which is an arm length circle around the body, but shrinks in crowds. Personal space is relative to the situation.

Folks who are aware of their personal space can work together in a kitchen and never bump into each other. They can share a sofa or sit next to each other in theaters without elbows bumping. We are the space respecters.

Then there are the folks who do not have a clue about anyone else’s space. They stand too close, hog all the space in fast food lines or crowd you with their buggy at the grocery store. They do not understand the limits of personal space because theirs is unlimited. They are space interlopers.

Problems arise when you have a mix of space respecters and space interlopers. Think of a large group of people entering or exiting a sporting event. The movement of the crowd is erratic, a stop and go jerky space. Folks like me, folks aware of and sensitive to the space issue, cause this phenomenon. We are trying to maintain our space under extraordinary circumstances and yet still move forward. We are trying to move yet still avoid the interlopers.

Total chaos reigns when you have a group consisting solely of space interlopers. They trample all over each other, some might say, like stampeding cows, but that is unfair. Cows, even when stampeding, know that personal space is relative and stampede accordingly, maintaining adequate space between their fellow cows. It is only when man throws up some roadblock like a fence or barn that the stampeders actually start making contact with each other.

We’ve all heard folks say “get out of my face” or “you are invading my space” or “I need my space,” but these are complaints by novices who have an inkling that space exists, but aren’t sure, sort of like those dogs who get nervous just before an earthquake. Something is going on; no one is exactly sure what it is.

Children understand space. Put two children, preferably siblings, in the back seat of a conventional automobile, travel three miles and you will begin to understand space as well. Just listen to the children.

“Joe is on my side.”

“Nuh uh. Jolene touched my side.”

The battles are not so much about ownership, but of penetration of personal space area. For children, who have short arms, the space is already limited. To have it invaded by a sibling is cause for battle.

How this is handled may determine how the child feels about the whole space issue as an adult. If the mother allows the children to duke it out among themselves, the children will grow up to be space interlopers.

If she deftly manages to spank both children without ever taking her eyes off the road, settling the dispute and making good time on the highway, the children will grow up to be space respecters.

They will also grow up to believe their mother possessed special powers. She did. Of that, I am sure.

Have a good week.

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