“Hey, buddy!!” – The Lost Concept of Personal Space

So I’m in the bathroom of my gym last night (a very fancy private gym where my son works) and there are – let’s see – 6 stalls – maybe more. There’s no one in there, no one. So I pick the stall at the end knowing full well that someone will come in momentarily. It’s a very busy gym. Two seconds later, you guessed it, in she stomps, swinging the door open with a crash and planting herself in the stall RIGHT BESIDE ME. Hi. Nice to meet you. Nice toenail polish.

Doesn’t anyone understand the concept of personal space anymore?

The bathroom stall thing happens over and over and over again on a daily basis. Call me bladder shy, but I don’t like having a conversation with you or even being aware of you while I’m on the toilet. That’s just me. It’s a little thing. Just my own sense of privacy. I might pee with the door open when in a relationship (I’m not a total prude), but the stranger right next to me in the washroom: not my thing. So for f..k’s sake, skip a stall or two when there’s several of them.

What’s more, the gym washrooms were recently renovated. One of the things they “upgraded”: the lights. They’re behind us now. So, for your viewing pleasure, you can see the shadow of the person in the stall next to you playing out on the floor. You can watch her shadow as she wipes her ass, inserts a tampon, texts, or any other gesture she may choose to make. Lovely.

And she can see me.

I really cannot rant about this loud enough. I don’t understand it, I don’t like it, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m in public washrooms several times daily.

I’ve taken to just leaving the stall when women do this and moving down 4 or 5 cubicles. And I’m going to ask the manager why the lighting is so ridiculous. But that’s really all I can do.

This behavior happens at work too. It happens in the mall. I was at the end of a long line of about 15 EMPTY stalls the other day and I could hear the high heels coming down the lane. Yep, she’s still walking, still walking, still…. still. Yep, goes in the stall right beside me. Hi. Happy pooping.

My son told me about a guy standing talking on his cell phone in the gym bathroom, lying about where he was to someone, and looking in the direction of the crack in the door while my son was in the stall.

“Hey, buddy!!”, my son shouted.

“Oh, oh, sorry, sorry.” Then into the phone, “Gotta go.”

Is the entire concept of personal space dead? Is this the fault of the internet? What’s up with this? I have Asperger’s and I understand it. Don’t crowd people. Don’t stand there two inches away from them while you wait for them to finish their set. Don’t carry on a loud and obnoxious conversation in the kitchen at work when other people are hard at work 3 feet away and you’ve been told about it already.

Have some awareness that other people exist. Other people can see you, hear you, smell you, feel you.

And you might not be the person that they WANT to see, hear, smell, and/or feel.

Just sayin’.

About Beth French, BA, MFA, PTS

I am a writer with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Political Science) from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) in Theatre Directing from the University of British Columbia. I am certified as a Personal Trainer. I also work as a Law Clerk in Toronto.

2 comments

  1. I’m amazed at the turn our world has taken in this regard. Too much sharing; too few boundaries; nebulous understanding of what civility requires of us. As George Costanza said, “We’re LIVING in a SOCIETY here!”

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