i don't know if i've ever mentioned this before, but there's not much by way of personal space in this country. even when there exists space to be used, often it is still not. case in point: this morning i'm driving home from our first AIA project meeting of 2009, and i saw two women walking on the sidewalk. there were people scattered throughout, but definitely enough space for everyone to walk comfortably. despite this fact, i watched as the two women walked past each other and gave a clear shoulder check to one another - both their arms went flying awkwardly into the air, but neither stopped or even gave a second glance. they went on as if nothing had happened! it was incredible to me. if that happened in north america, someone would have been shouting, possibly punching, maybe even calling their lawyer.
a similiar story comes from my great pal, arielle schade, who spent the year with me here in the czech republic. this time, the setting is italy. arielle is a fairly tall, strong gal (after playing hockey for years and being, well, canadian). she told me that when she was travelling through italy, she was getting fed up with being bumped, nudged, bodychecked, etc., by passersby, so decided to take matters into her own hands. she resolved that the next time someone walked closely past her, she wouldn't dodge out of the way or try to avoid running into them. unfortunately for her, the next person to come her way was a man - a man apparently without regard for anyone else using the space around him. this might be an extreme case, but none the less, it did happen. so arielle braced herself and as the man approached, she even leaned into it a little. BAM. the guy slammed right into her and sent her flying to the side, shoulder aching and feeling more than a little ticked. the guy didn't look back, didn't say sorry, apparently he hadn't noticed the shoulder check he'd administered on the sidewalk in rome.
i guess the moral of the story is... if you don't wanna get hit, you better get out of the way! what a place, this european nation.
1 week ago