Inspired by Justin’s entry
I like cycling to and from work in the spring, summer and fall. Its way faster than taking the bus and I need the exercise. My ankle and knee gave up on me some years ago, so most sports are unavailable to me. It is all good, but there is a downside. The weather here in Denmark ranges from -10 to +30 degrees Celsius. I don’t mind biking in extreme heat, but when the snow falls and the streets get icy, common sense tells me to take the bus.
When I was young I enjoyed taking the bus as it would always be long distance busses. They leave plenty of time to enjoy the landscape or hear some music. But inside Aalborg you are forced to use the city busses. They are normally equipped with not too spacy seats. In the summer the low passenger count sometimes allow you to grab 2 seats alone. In the winter it’s another matter. The busses are normally overcrowded (sometimes you can’t even get on). This means a new possible annoyance to me.
I don’t have claustrophobia at all. I can attend a rock concert being squeezed into to a diamond, and it doesn’t freak me out. That’s what I’d expect when I go to a concert.
What I hate is how people taking the bus have different views of what is acceptable touching and what is not. When the bus is crowded I know contact is impossible to avoid. But why the hell do some people have to cram their bodies close to you when they don’t necessarily have to? I’m not Brad Pitt, nor do I crap 1 dollar bills when you rub me. So keep a minimum of distance.
I have a pretty big private sphere. I know that I may be a bit weird. I know that this is my problem, and I live with it. Even though I don’t like people too close, it is still flexible if the situation demands it. If the bus is stuffed, I can understand why I have to accept some body contact.
When I enter the bus, I am normally one of the first waiting at the bus stop (due to excellent timing and radar like attention to bus contours in the horizon). This often gives me a chance to pick a seat. Normal procedure for most people would be to get one that is empty in both seats (Danish city busses often have seats in pairs) to which I am no expectance. 2 stops later all seats are filled, which normally means my private sphere could be in danger. By then I probably would have a seat buddy.
When I myself take the second seat in a bus, I make sure not to touch the fellow passenger unnecessary. If this means that my fat butt have to slide a few inches over the side of the seat (and lack the support it so badly need), I just do this and live with it. For god’s sake, it’s a city bus and I can stand this for the 15 min it lasts.
When it is the other way around I am 99% sure to get the one bastard who have no private sphere at all. He/she makes sure to get plenty of butt space and is not too embarrassed to keep his/her legs spread wide and relaxed without no reason what so ever. This means squeezing them up my leg as if we were best mates or prime time in love. I hate it.
I’m an idiot I know. It’s my own fault. I’m too polite. See, when I see someone wants the seat next to me I do the “polite butt hop”. You know where you lift your ass just enough and re-seat so your new side buddy can see that you have adjusted as much as possible to make sure that he/she has most space. Just to be polite and show best intentions. They actually never get more space.
In my mind, seeing the “butt hop” would make the person think: “What a nice gesture. Now I must make try to show this gentleman the same politeness and give him the same room”. Well *errrrrr*. I never learn why, but it has the quite opposite effect on some people. Somehow they take this an invitation to take more space and come closer (touchy touchy).
In my world (and other normally thinking beings I hope) the “border” starts where their seat ends. It is just pure logic. But not to some people – no their border stop somewhere in the middle of my thigh. Right next to my femur and they do the best they can to get their leg there. Sure enough their leg will stick to mine with a 2 ton pressure forcing me to withdraw further. Result: I sit awkwardly and more than a few times, I have had a near-cramp-experience before the seat hog finally gets off the bus or I have to do the same. I kid you not.
I thought this was a Danish too-relaxed thing until the time when I flew home from Hong Kong, and was blessed with a Spanish couple as seat buddies. I had the window seat, and the wife sat right next to me. As one would expect she fell asleep after 3-4 hours flight (just like the rest of the passengers). But I must have looked like an extra soft fluffy pillow, as I had the “pleasure” of her resting on my shoulder all the way to London. I am pretty sure she was refreshed and ready to have a good day, but I was wasted. I didn’t sleep much. I guess I should have pushed her politely away, but on the other hand, she looked peaceful, and I found it kind of funny that some people could feel so comfortable next to a complete stranger.
To be fair, it is not all people that don’t know the line in the sand. Actually it may only be a few, but these are the ones I remember best. Somehow I always had a “talent” for remembering what bugs me most. Ask anyone who knows me. Well – some people have private spheres, and some have none at all. I guess this is international or maybe I’m just a weirdo.