: the tight squeezes :

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.

Copyright © Publikworks 2011.

14 responses to “: the tight squeezes :”

  1. I confess. I was suppose to be working from home today and instead I was looking around the blogosphere. Just curious about what was out there and by some sequence I can’t even remember came upon your blog. I love it. I really do. I have something to say on everything you wrote. For starters: why in a almost totally empty restaurant, do they insist on seating you all in the same 10 square feet? Why, when I married my husband, did I not realise that all of his relatives came from Mayberry and I was never going to be able to understand half of what they said. Socks are ok, but my best thing in life is a freshly washed pillowcase. I love ketchup, but not on hot dogs. That’s just wrong. If you live near London, I’ve got a great guy who can fix any computer problems you have. And, you don’t know the meaning of the word ‘misfit’ until you move to Britain and laugh in all the wrong places. I really have to go to work now. Really…


    1. Hi, Eileen, I’m so glad you found me. I love your definition of misfit and I’m deeply familiar with those awkward occasions. Deeply. I wish I could explain restaurant seating, but it baffles me, too. Southerners I have some experience with; just ask them to slow down when they talk. That helps sometimes. I’m with you on hot dogs, but have to stick with new socks over fresh pillow cases.

      Thanks for stopping and putting yourself behind schedule. If it helps, you made my day. Please visit again soon.


  2. Okay. This has little to do with crowding, but as soon as you mentioned “check-out lines” it came to me again. It seems to be an ever growing problem as grocery store aisles continue to shrink in width. What is it with the person that parks the cart in the center of the aisle as they shop from side to side. It enrages me. Traffic lanes continue in grocery stores. Up the aisle on the right, down the aisle on the left. Stay out of the center lane. At least don’t “park” there. Geeez.

    Cell phones, well they’re just way out of control, bathroom or not.


    1. Walmart has so much junk stacked in their aisles there is no center lane, there’s barely even two. Even so, people still stop their carts and wander away to shop another spot. Or chatter into their cell phone.

      When did we lose all sense of reason?


  3. Wonderfully thought through! It’s quite ridiculous (while simultaneously being understandable) the lengths to which society will go to to reduce chaos and maintain social order. Stifling as well, as you so rightly pointed out.


    1. Thank you, ruth, it is at that. It was awfully nice of you to visit, please stop by again soon.


  4. You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head! Cell phones annoy me – period. I despise walking around in stores, while people chat loudly on their cell phones. Does the person on the other end of the phone know that I am learning about their life?
    And honestly… the bathroom? Ew on so many levels. If I had a friend talking to me while they were in a bathroom I would hang up – pronto.

    Finally, personal space. I find personal space is getting smaller and smaller, and I don’t like it. If I can feel you breathing down my neck, you are too freggin’ close. Back off. (I say sweetly.)

    Yep. You nailed this one! Well done!


    1. Hi, Lenore. You’re too kind, do you know that?

      I had a colleague call me from a bathroom once. When I realized what was going on I hung up and avoided her for the rest of my time with that company. I screen my calls now.

      It’s always a pleasure to hear from you, come back again when you can stay longer.


  5. And cinemas, people all tilting the theatre onto its side by crowding into one area except me sitting with a gloriously unimpeded view, the whole side to myself and then someone comes and sits right in front of me. I ALWAYS stand up and move away.. mumbling usually..c


    1. Movies, of course. Good catch!

      Thank goodness it’s not just me, I was afraid I was becoming anti-social or something. You have set my mind at ease, cecilia. Thanks for stopping by, it’s always good to see you.


  6. I can honestly relate to your plight. Ahh, I can think back to those lazy, crazy, scorching hot summer days in NYC, where riding the subway truly felt like you where on the H*LL express. If you were lucky enough that at least one of the eight subway cars on your train had at least piss-warm A/C blowing; if not you held your breath until your stop. Ok I’ll admit it sometimes you had to breathe in the aroma of stale garlic bagels and coffee, derelicts, dried urine, feces and whatever else that was dried up on the seat across from you, but you tried to hold your breath anyway. The point is if you didn’t have A/C in the car you were riding in more than likely the car would be practically empty giving you the choice of disgustingly questionable seats to sit in. With that in mind you sit down there are empty seats on both sides of you, empty seats across from you, empty seats behind you, so imagine your surprise and dismay on that hot summer day when someone gets on at the next stop and plops down next to you sweating and fanning. “WHAT THE H*LL IS THAT????? I haven’t got answer for that yet and yes I did ask the offending idiot directly, maybe they didn’t answer due to my ensuing tirade where I mentioned my 3 day beans and milk cleanse or maybe they didn’t have time as they jumped off the next stop, but one of these days I’m going to get an answer.


    1. I’d never considered subways, toogrown! That must be miserable, but you created such a wonderfully descriptive picture of your situation. Yikes, I feel for you.

      Take heart, you still have a few months left before it gets hot again. Thanks for stopping by to commiserate and good luck.

      PS. When you get an answer would you pass it on? Please? I’m dying to know.


  7. DiatribesAndOvations.com Avatar

    Great post! Excellent observations one and all! There’s a guy in my office that wears a headset all day long making one call after another. He wanders in to the bathroom, chats at the urinal and leaves without washing his hands. I suspect it’s because the urinal flushes automatically and he doesn’t want it to be heard.

    I wonder how many people I talk to each day are calling from a restroom …

    BTW … I’m all for citizen’s arrests! http://wp.me/p1se8R-1ya


    1. Thanks, Diatribes, I appreciate it. I like to think all my phone calls originate from a fully-clothed person comfortably seated in a living room or den. My days go better that way.

      Fun post! Wasn’t that a great episode of Andy Griffith?


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