Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pigs of Space, or, Sometimes Every Paragraph Gets a Sarcastic Parenthetical

One of the most tiresome assumptions about short people is that we don't require any personal space. (Don’t believe me? Check out some of the comments from last week’s post.)

I refer to these people as the Pigs of Space. Hey, I may be petite, but I do enjoy a dose of oxygen from time to time. Also, try being short in a crowd of people sometime – it’s unpleasant and disorienting to only be able to see butts and elbows. (Though if I had an elbow fetish, I would probably be transported into a state of bliss every time I changed trains at Metro Center.)

In most teeming-piles-of-humanity situations, I am crowded, jostled, squished, bumped into, and nudged to a degree that is simply not experienced by any of my friends. (Well, except the fellow pocket-size ones.)

One of my favorite breeds of the Pigs of Space are the Metro Seat-Sploogers. No, it’s not as gross as it sounds. (Though it’s still plenty gross.)

Women who sit down next to me on the Metro will use their purses to slowly splooge into my seat. Ladies, if you must carry fourteen bags containing commuter shoes, workout clothes for the gym you never visit, a week of lunches, and a two-liter of Coke, and you can’t tuck these items between your feet or onto your lap, you have deeper issues than I can fathom. (Incidentally, can anyone tell me WHY some women have to lug all of their belongings along for an eight-hour workday? Do they all share really, really small apartments with a night-shift roommate who makes them clear out every morning?)

Men will splay their legs to the point where I wonder if they’re trying to impregnate the poles, or if they have the sort of elephantitis junk that needs to ride shotgun. It’s gross and pervy and weird. (Quick! What’s the movie reference here?)

Overall, I am very generous with space and try to use my size to benefit others. I’m happy to ride hump when we’re five to a car, share a stool at the local dive, or climb into the furthest recesses of the storage closet to retrieve lost office supplies. Consideration and kindness are key concepts of my life. But there’s a point where folks are just taking advantage. There's a point where someone is trying to bully their way to more room than they really need, like a one-man McMansion. And that’s when it’s time to be assertive. Time to use tricks like the Amused Raised Eyebrow, the Gentle Nudge Back into Your Own Damn Seat, and the Fake Coughing Fit. (Even handier? An accidental stab to the thigh.)

So my question is this: If you read a news report about a woman who leaps on top of her male neighbor on the Metro and forcibly straps his knees together with an adorably trendy red patent-leather belt, will you know that it’s me? (And will you laugh, or will you chalk it all up to the demise of civility in modern society...or an accidental switch to decaf?)


Brando said...

This is one of those times when sitting on a stranger's lap is entirely appropriate. Though, if that seems like something the stranger might enjoy, then I'm out of ideas.

[F]oxymoron said...

I hear ya!

Wouldn't it be cool if Metro set up some sort of invisible, electric seat awareness system? Like, if you cross over onto my cushion, "bzzzzzzzzzzzzz".

As for the red belt act... that's so Hollywood. X-rated Hollywood.

Shannon said...

Brando - Perhaps if I had an especially bony behind, this would serve as a great deterrent.

Foxy - Gross. And don't you mean Burbank, vs. Hollywood?

rdo said...

If you're 6'5" or over (as I am) you can't fit/sit in a mid-car metro seat without 1) sitting with your legs splayed out or 2) sitting with your knees together but practically sideways. Either way, I'm taking up more than one cushion. Also, neither choice results in a comfortable way to sit--knees pressed up against hard plastic. I don't mean to be a space hog, I just also enjoy sitting on the metro as much as anyone else.

Dagny Taggart said...

I'm 5'11", and I get squished by people trying to take over my seat, as well.

But the people who really aggravate me, are the ones who lean their whole body against a vertical pole, making it impossible to grab onto without touching things I'd rather not.

Now I will know it is you, and I will "sound a barbaric yawp" in your honor.

Shannon said...

rdo - It's one thing to take as much space as you need, it's quite another to squish someone else just because you want to. Personally, on a crowded car, I try to sit next to someone big so they don't wind up with another big person squashing them.

Dagny - I just dig my hand in, knuckles and claws out, until they move.

Just A Girl said...

I'm teeny too and people ALWAYS try to take advantage of that fact. I get shoved aside and bumped and ignored by people all the time. Like you, I don't mind using my size to make other people more comfortable but just because I'm small doesn't mean you can be ALL UP IN MY BUSINESS.

I use elbows.

aims said...

I am a fan of the fake coughing fit/elbow to the ribs combo. I don't get it. If your knees must be spread so far apart, make use of the aisle, not of my space.

But ever since the red line turned extra shitty after the accident, I have been taking the MARC train in and life is much better.

Marissa said...

For the record, at least on my part, my comment from last week re: the recline issue on planes had nothing to do with your size. I would've said the same thing if you were 3 feet tall or 10 feet.

I think most everyone else who debated the problem would probably agree. Just sayin'...not everyone who disagrees with you is a "Pig of Space."

But yeah, I think the problem you're describing in this post does exist. I'm not short but I'm on the skinny side and people sometimes do the same thing to me. The difference I suppose is that instead of a gentle nudge I just straight out tell them to get their sh*t out of my allotted space. It usually works.

Shannon said...

JAG - And, conveniently, short chick elbows are just the right height for a belly nudge.

aims - Lucky for me, I can mostly avoid the Red Line. I won't live or work on the Red if I can possibly avoid it.

Marissa - I'm speaking about those who specifically mentioned my height as justification to recline into my space - not against those who generally disagreed with me. Disagreeing is fine - using my size as an excuse to squash me is just being a bully.

HP said...

I'm small as well, and often feel like people are encroaching on my space. But I don't think it's *because* I'm small or that it has anything to do with me, per say. I think in general, public spaces are too small, they crowd easily and people are fundamentally selfish, self-centered and annoyingly unaware of their effects on those around them. Accepting that it may not be about you might help you be less annoyed by it.

bh said...

Eh. I'm 5'9" I don't have an ounce of sympathy for the tall of the world. Girls like you more, you've got a better chance of getting a job. People look to you naturally as a leader. Airplanes too small? Back seat of a Mini uncomfortable? Metro cramped? Suck it.

Unless your like 6'8". Then I'll reconsider.

Shannon said...

HP - Well, I do spend night after night in my secluded cave, wailing over the injustices and cruelties that society has wreaked upon me. Then I take a bubble bath.

bh - Yeah!

Alex said...

this is an example of how men and women inhabit different worlds. Women don't do the purse-splooging thing to men, ever. I never even was aware of it until now.

We do have to contend, though, with the kind of guy who has to sit with his legs spread so far apart that he takes up two seats.