Do we need to live cheek by jowl, like sardines packed in a can? Is the planet that crowded? No, no, and no, but it sure seems that way.
Just yesterday I was in line at the grocery store. There was a man in front of me, but no one behind me, the store was experiencing a rare and pleasant lull. Check-out lanes were open, cashiers were standing idle. It was almost calm, until some dude and his wife pulled into line. The man planted himself about four inches from my shoulder, the wife wedged herself and their shopping cart in behind me, pinning me against the counter in front. Penned in on three sides, I felt like a rodeo bull in the bucking chute. I wanted to buck and kick, too, or throw an elbow.
This was not an isolated incident, stuff like this happens everywhere. Parking lots, for instance. You pull into a virtually empty lot, dozens upon dozens of vacant spaces. You pick one. Before you can even get the motor turned off, whoosh, a rusted, battered panel van pulls in centimeters from your side view mirror. They throw their doors open, leaving behind a door ding to remember them by. Three acres of wide open parking places, but none of them will do as nicely as the one next to your car.
And there’s public restrooms. I can think of no venue where closeness is less welcome. The stall doors have locks on them, that should be a hint. But it isn’t. You could travel a hundred miles north of civilization at 3 o’clock in the morning to pee in the restroom of an abandoned office building and someone will burst in. That person will make a beeline for the stall next to yours. And they’re not quiet about it, either. Banging the door, rustling and groaning, rattling bags, digging through purses, and most loathsome of all, talking on cell phones. What the hell has happened to modesty? Where’d it go?
And embarrassment? Don’t people get embarrassed anymore? They should, they have plenty to be embarrassed about.
I, for one, could no sooner make a phone call while I pee than I could conduct the New York Philharmonic naked. To my way of thinking, cell phone + restroom = serious boundary issues. Get help! There are places where cell phones simply don’t belong, a restroom is clearly one of them. Does this really need to be pointed out? No phone call is so important it can’t wait until you’re finished. No one wants to hear from you that much. No one. Personally, I’d rather hear from an obscene caller than someone in a restroom.
Wouldn’t you? Next time, let’s pull a Gomer Pyle and make a citizen’s arrest.
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