Thursday, October 2, 2008

Excuse me sir, but your bananas are poking me

Pregnancy hormones have rendered me with zero patience these days, and several things that I either had gotten accustomed to or had just accepted are now bugging me all over again. Personal space, or the lack of it, is one of those things.

There are several cultural differences that I love here with regards to people's personal little bubble. Like, for example, I think it's great to greet friends with a hug and cheek kisses. I have no problem with people I know standing, sitting, or speaking a little closer to me than I, as am American, am used too. And I even understand when folks are pressed up against me on a crowded city bus.

It's mostly the standing in lines with strangers that gets to me the most these days. Yesterday at the grocery store was a very typical experience for me lately:

I am standing in line to check out, with four or five small things in my hands. I leave an American norm, probably 2-person, space between me and the person in front of me. As I patiently wait my turn in the long line, a man holding a large bunch of bananas comes up and steps right in front of me. Being accustomed to this routine, I wait about three seconds. The guys then turns to me and politely, but looking a little surprised, asks if I was in line. I smile and inform him I was; he apologizes and steps behind me to get in the back of the line. And when I say he steps behind me, I mean right behind me. I can feel his breath on the back of my neck. I take a half step forward to put a little distance between us. He proceeds to take a full step up. His bunch of bananas are ever so slightly brushing my back with each breath he takes. (I know this because I can still feel his breath on my neck.)

There is still some space between me and the next person in line, so I try my luck again and take another half-step forward, hoping he doesn't notice this time. The man behind me once again takes a full step forward, along with all the people now behind him in line. Now his bananas are poking firmly into the small of my back and I am all but sitting on the shoulders of the lady in front of me. And wouldn't you know the cashier was taking forever! Now, I probably was in this situation for less than 5 minutes, but man, oh man, it seemed like a lot longer. I told myself to take some deep breaths and relax. But each time I inhaled, my chest would expand and my boobs would touch the head of the woman in front of me (she was quite short, and I was very close to her by this time.) When I exhaled, the bananas would dig further into my back. I couldn't move to either side because there were shelves to my left and then someone had left a buggy just to my right between me and the other set of shelves. I was thoroughly stuck.

I am rather lucky that I can usually keep up appearances and maintain a nice pleasant exterior regardless of what is going on inside. And yesterday was no exception, but internally I kept repeating to myself, "calma, calma, calma . . ." because a real large part of me wanted to scream "everyone just back off already - alright!?!"

Yes, it appears that some days I still like my personal space bubble. Yesterday was obviously one of those days. And Eric is lucky he worked late last night. Had he come home immediately after my arrival back from the grocery store, I'm not sure how I would have responded to his 'Honey I'm home' hug and kiss!

8 comments:

Mamasphere said...

We like our hula hoop, lol.

I was helping my Mother-in-law shop at a large grocery store, and the person behind me in line was shoving their cart into my back. No matter how much I moved up, that cart kept finding its way right back to snuggling up against me. I ended up holding the cart as I moved forward so the woman couldn't push it further.

I've lived too long in the States- I don't think I'll ever be able to be completely comforatable with the less than hula hoop space that Brasilians are used to.

wondering ego said...

ah the personal bubble. I am already noticing that my smaller bubble here in the US cause some, at least, "back off" looks on me. That banana's man, however, was a bit suspicious, because even if brazilian bubbles are smaller, we don't like any stranger breathing in our necks. Try to do this and you will see...

Rachel said...

Lately I've been really annoyed by people walking at a snail's pace. And I'm definitely not pregnant. So don't worry, I think it's pretty normal to be annoyed!

Elaine said...

Haha, Emily, I am brazilian but I was born with a huuuge bubble. I hate when strangers get too close to me. I remember things like that happening to me when I still lived in Brasil. I can't stand it. But I will tell you something. Something similar happens here in America too. Everytime I am at the Mall or a public place I feel people walking behind me the whole time, with plenty space for them to "pass" me, and they are stuck to me, it feels like they are following me. It drives me crazy. One day I will stop of a sudden to make them actually hit me and brake their nose!

Corinne said...

I have the same issue with personal space, and it is really hard to get people to back off when they are too close. BUT, look on the bright side...you can now use all the special lines because you are pregnant!!! This is a super plus for being pregnant in Brazil, you get to use a special line. It might not stop somene from crowding you, but at least you will be in a shorter line!!

Ray Adkins said...

Emily,

I am laughing so hard I have tears!!!
You are a great writer, you are so good I could fell the bananas poking my ribs too!
I hated going to the grocery stores in Brazil, I totally hear you with the "personal space" issue!
I had the exact same situation at the airport in Budapest, people do not have the personal space concept there either...they should at least now that the plane is not leaving until everyone is in...


Ray

Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

Ha, ha! At least you can blame it on hormones. I don't have any excuses! :)

I am the same way. Other space issues don't bother me, but standing in line (most often at the market) gets to me. I had a girl jabbing me in the back with her basket just the other day.

Amanda said...

You are too funny little mama!

The older I get the bigger my bubble gets.........