sitting next to strangers

I love how funny people are.  Most Americans from the US have this thing about sitting next to strangers, especially when eating.  It’s not cool.  Sometimes I’ll go to a restaraunt in Center City with Martha and we’ll sit 6″ away from strangers, and it’s kind of weird for a minute.  You see what they are eating, you hear part of their conversation.  You don’t talk to them, though (although I usually will ask them for sugar or something just to break the taboo).

Temple’s campus is the same way.  Generally, even at the picnic tables, if someone is sitting there alone they have the whole thing claimed.  Unless there are Eastern Europeans involved.

One day I was sitting there jammin to tunes and checking my email on the laptop and 6 Polish people practically surrounded me slowly, one every 3 minutes or so.  I was at their table now, but I was still wearing headphones and not paying attention (besides I only understand like 10 words in Polish, sorry Nani!).

Table For One photo by Baerbel Kavanaugh

"Table For One" photo by Baerbel Kavanaugh

Today a guy sat next to me at this table and kept looking over semi-discretely to watch 2 piece rock vidoes that I was checking out while I finished my lunch.  I almost wanted to give him a headphone so he could get a taste, but I didn’t.

We can live in such proximity with others and kind of pretend that they don’t exist.  Other places in the world that I have been to aren’t so much like that.  Why do we have this idea to “respect each other by leaving one another alone”?   I don’t really want to live like that.