Americans as a whole are very “arms-length” kind of people. I know I need my space and often find myself backing away from those who are “in your face” kind of people (you know who you are). But they are usually few and far between—especially during cold and flu season.
Have you ever noticed when you stop for a red light, that all the cars are staggered so no one has to look directly across at the person next to them? I’m not sure if this is done subconsciously or consciously, but it is very seldom that anyone lines up evenly at the lights. It’s sort of like riding in an elevator with strangers. Everyone tries to pretend to be absorbed in the lighted numbers, or they just stare awkwardly at the closed doors with the expression of Dobermans ready to bolt to freedom.
I don’t know if people in other countries are this way. I’ve never been to another country. But I think most Americans have a built in need for space and privacy. An aspect of our DNA that goes back to the days of Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket and Johnny Appleseed, and all those pioneers and westward traveling ancestors that needed elbowroom to live and thrive, plant seeds and be happy.
That may be part of the reason so many people want tighter security at our borders. Not only are criminals, terrorists, and illegals finding their way in, to our detriment. But they’re also taking up space in our land. Pretty soon there won’t be any more elbowroom and we’ll be like Europeans—unwashed masses with universal health care that pays to put us to sleep when we get sick. Sure they got old buildings, but do they have mountains and desserts and canyons and prairie where no one lives? Someday neither will we.
As land and space have shrunk in our country, houses have gotten larger. Have you noticed that? The average size of a house fifty years ago was half that of today. They had one bathroom and maybe two bedrooms. Kids bunked together. No one got their own room—not even mom and dad. Today, people build separate rooms just to store junk, hold exercise equipment, or play on their computer. Americans go to the mall or a movie and come home low on oxygen, thankful for big houses with multiple rooms and doors to shut against the cacophony of life or other family members.
It’s not necessarily that we’re spoiled, extravagant people–although some of us are–but that we wouldn’t survive in tiny apartment complexes with multiple generations living together under one roof. We would suffocate.
Born free, free as a mountain lion, free as a wolfhound, free as a bird. Americans love their freedom and their wide-open spaces. We sing about it in our national anthem. We vacation in places where climbing rocks is the only activity available. We get claustrophobic if we travel farther east than the Illinois border. (Okay, that’s just me, but you get my drift)
I’m not sure what the protocol is for traveling up escalators, but I think it’s much the same as for elevators and cars at red lights. Don’t make eye contact and don’t get too close to the person ahead of you.