This morning as I was travelling to the gym a man (with a less-than-pleasant odor) got on the bus about 5 mins away from my stop, and despite the “don’t sit by me; don’t sit by me…” mantra running through my head, he sat right beside me. It was then that I was faced with a dilemma: do I move to the empty seat next to me, or do I suck it up and stay put for the remainder of the ride?
I often find myself faced with this dilemma – not always because the person sitting next to me smells (though that happens all too often) but because I’d rather not be squished against a stranger if I don’t have to be. I have a lot of stuff I carry with me (to facilitate the various activities I have to fit in to a day) and find my ride much more enjoyable if I’m not worrying about infringing on other people’s space and annoying them as much as some others annoy me. However, at the same time, I don’t want to offend people by moving seats. As a result I often find myself staying stationary despite my desires for wider open spaces.
Now don’t ask me exactly how I would offend people by moving seats, but I always fear in the back of my mind that I will. Maybe they’ll think I think they smell and am therefore moving (which is sometimes the case, but stinky people have feelings too, ones that I wish not to hurt) or that I think they’re annoying (also sometimes true) or that I’m moving for some other completely random reason… And even though I don’t know them, and may never see them again, something inside me doesn’t want to offend. Perhaps it’s my stereotypical Canadian politeness, or perhaps this is a common affliction that people face as a result of being social creatures, or perhaps I’m completely neurotic.
However, I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve sat side-by-side, with 2 other people, the three of us squashed together on one side of the bus (the side-facing ones at the back) while all the seats opposite us were empty and none of us made a move. So either they don’t care, are too lazy or are just as crazy as me…
So what is it? Am I weird or does anyone else find themselves in this predicament?