Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Personal space paranoia

It was all I could do not to throw a punch.
A few years ago a car salesman approached me as I walked into the dealership. He shook my hand with one arm but preceded to wrap the other arm around my shoulder in a sort of bro hug. Wriggling out of his embrace with a forceful shrug of my shoulder, I said in the kindest voice I could manage, 'Please don't do that.' I didn't know him all that well and he didn't rate that kind of treatment. 
Skip forward a few months. My family and I were out  to dinner. The place was crowded for a Friday night. The wife and kids were bracketed by wait staff and other customers. As I recall, I was in a pretty good mood at the time. Then the tingling sensation in my head went off. I'm not claustrophobic, but there was a sensation of a person in my proximity. Something bumped into my back and I snapped out loud. "Whoever is behind me needs to BACK OFF!  A glance over my shoulder and a petite waitress looked very sheepishly my way.
There have been instances where a complete stranger gets in my personal space and at best I find it uncomfortable.
Today a department manager whom I've spoken perhaps a dozen words to, clapped me on the shoulder and asked me 'how's it going bro?'
I wanted to tell him he didn't get to do that. Not a half hour later two contractors came in behind me and clasped my shoulders. I think they said something they thought was funny, I wouldn't know.
My flight or fight drive was almost too strong to control at that moment. The rest of the morning I was wondering 'what the hell is wrong with me?'
I didn't know these guys at all. Normally I'm very touch oriented and I've no reason to be on such a high state of alert. Quite simply, I don't think I should be reacting this way.
An embrace from a friend or family is always welcome, but when a person reeking of tobacco claps me on the back like we're bosom buddies, I freak out.
That's not me, but at the same time I don't need a stranger that close.

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