Back Up 3 Steps, Please

Personal space is a big deal to me. I’m not a touchy-feely kind of gal. Sure, human contact is a basic need we all share, but I’m neither prodigious nor public about it. It particularly freaks me out when a stranger takes the liberty of intentionally touching me in any way. (Accidental contact aside.)

Yesterday morning I was folding at the laundry mat, wearing headphones, zoned out in my own private little world. A man, walking behind me, placed his hand on the small of my back in a don’t-back-up-or-we’ll-crash sort of gesture. Admittedly the music made me incapable of hearing the possibility of a polite “excuse me”, yet in my estimation there was enough space behind me for a mack truck to make a sloppy three-point turn. The touch was completely non-sexual, but shockingly familiar and it made me intensely uncomfortable.

The incident made me wonder, do we live in a society where that kind of casual contact between strangers is acceptable and I’m simply uptight? Or am I justified in calling foul? This rarely used to be a problem for me so I’m starting to realize that having a 6 foot marital side-kick had buffered me from this kind of experience for a long time…


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