Tuesday, June 25

Personal spatial awareness, or lack thereof

One of my pet peeves is people who have no personal spatial awareness. I confess this happens most frequently at airports, but these people are everywhere.

You know the kind of people I'm talking about: the person who stops in the middle of the corridor to stare at his or her smartphone; the individual who goes through security at the airport and stops just at the bench and blocks the way; the person who insists on unpacking the security trays the moment they clear the X-ray area and then slowly, methodically get redressed and put things back in the right pockets and places.

But I'm also talking about the backpack people. The backpack is inevitably overstuffed so about at least a foot wide, if not more. You've followed these people down the aisle of the airplane and witnessed what would be funny on Saturday Night Live. Backpack person turns to check boarding pass and seat and clocks person sitting in the aisle seat with said backpack; clocked person is knocked unconscious and sits sprawled in seat. In mock horror, backpack person turns to apologize and knocks backpack into the arm of the person behind whose cup of coffee goes airborne, etc., etc. It would funny on TV. Not so amusing in real life. But the backpack people seem to have no clue how much more space they take up when they sling on that backpack.

The rollaboard people are often armed and dangerous, especially if they have the older two-wheeled rollaboards that they trail behind them as they bob and weave through the crowds at the airport. Pity the poor person who isn't looking down and whose shins get nicked or who trips over the rollaboard as its rolled down the airport corridors.

Of course, the poor person looking down to avoid the tragedy of the rollaboard is likely to smack into the person who has stopped in the middle of the corridor, fascinated by whatever urgent message (note sarcasm here) cannot possibly wait and negates the civil ability to step out of the way.

On the other hand, there was an occasion when I stepped out of the way to review something on my iPad. I tried to be sure I was off the main pathway. And even then someone who was not paying attention to where she was going walked right into me. . .and I watched as my iPad fell flat on the floor, and the glass shattered.

I understand the distraction of electronic devices; I've been guilty of that on occasion myself. And I've been one of the backpack people. But I find myself more often watching for incidents of the lack of personal spatial awareness to see what comedic pratfalls may ensue though it's usually ticked off people and something bruised.

My personal hope is that not only will we think to look up and around us, but to be considerately and considerably more aware. . . of ourselves and those with whom we share public space.