Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Personal Space

So, if you go into an almost-empty restaurant with one occupied table, where do you sit?

If you're American, you sit at the table farthest from the occupied table. If you are Dutch, you sit RIGHT NEXT TO IT.

WTF? Stay away!

I've asked Dutch people about this phenomenon, and they all say the same thing - it's for the gezelligheid.

I don't find it gezelling to have strange (Dutch) people listening to my conversations and bumping me with their asses whenever they move their chairs. Am I alone here? They want to sit next to you, but not make small talk. It's the omgekeerd wereld. Dutch people like closeness, but don't like chatting.

No one in Holland EVER talks to strangers in a chit-chatty way with ONE notable exception: doctors' waiting rooms. You walk in and shout "Good morning, everyone!" and take a seat.

Now, in America, this is like, the ONE time we don't want to talk to strangers. We have a privacy thing when it comes to medical visits, so don't expect us to talk there.

And keep your germs to yourself and go sit on the other side of the waiting room, while you're at it...


Anonymous said...

I've lived in other countries where it's customary to be seated at the same table as strangers. That takes quite a bit of getting used to!

I suppose that growing up in the Netherlands one is not used to taking up a lot of space or even having that much privacy. My own cloggie is still amazed, after many years spent in the U.S., that Americans will say "excuse me" when they get within a three foot radius of him in a bookstore. That said, he also still walks around commenting on American architecture and what an incredible amount of "space wasting" we do. "tsk.tsk."

It's not so much the lack of personal space that bothers me anymore;it's rather what people do in my personal space. Sneezeing wildly into it, for example.

Canucky Woman said...

I'm witnessing this same phenomenon at the gym...

A whole line of empty treadmills...but somebody HAS to get on the one right next to you...huffing and puffing and sweating and stinking...

I find women are worse at this. I want to scream, "THIS IS NOT OPRAH! I DON'T WANT TO BOND WITH YOU!!!"