Yesterday I walked up a busy Edgware Road. I was walking quickly to get a train from Paddington and the pavement was thronging with commuters, shoppers and locals frequenting the many Lebanese eateries.
In front of me was a lady carrying a heavy shopping bag on her left arm. The arm was hooked double to support the seemingly weighty contents. Her right arm was projected out, away from her body at 45 degrees, presumably as a counter balance. The counter balancing arm was obstructing my path and frustratingly making it difficult for me to slip by.
After a few seconds, I stepped out into a space to overtake and nearly went head over heels as a fellow pedestrian walking in the opposite direction was tugging a wheelie case that had escaped my attention.
I suddenly became aware of our personal space. My space and that of those around me. The space we each occupy, not only with our physical bodies, but also with our chattels, our possessions, our accoutrements.
I wonder how often we notice when we invade others space, or when we cause them to divert?
This wondering returned twenty minutes later when a commuter on my train whacked my shoulder with a laptop case thrown over their shoulder. But was I leaning into the aisle? Was I invading their thoroughfare, or were they invading my space in my seat?
And now I notice I have described it as my space and their space and introduced the idea of ‘invading’… strong words.
Personal space clearly matters.