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Friday, September 10, 2004

Personal space invasion

Living in an urban landscape is certainly a lot more different, a lot more complex than the simple life, at least, the 'perceived simple life', since I am from the city to begin with. People are less trusting, more suspicious, and are generally very much to themselves. We call this illusion 'personal space'.

We all have a lot of personal spaces that we choose to share with people, or not, but just like vampires, must be granted permission to enter. Not everyone freely welcomes strangers, and if you picked up the newspapers recently, you have a darned good reason why you shouldn't. Its all about survival. We are living in an age of increased risk, and although death is inevitable, most sensible adults will try their best to avoid confrontational situations, or the act of endangering one's life. Plus your insurance does not cover these things in a section labelled 'Stupidity.' Such is the life of an urban dweller.

A few days ago this week, I was doing my shopping at Carrefour. After a long day's work, naturally you'd feel tired, blur, and there is some stress to be relieved. Passing by the arcades I was wondering if I should have a go at the new Time Crisis machine. Mmm, if only the guns were of real weight, recoiled like a real gun and left gunpowder residue when you're done, I would have had a go. Actually those features would've prevented a lot of kids from playing these things. But that is another story.

On the way back to my car I was approached by an elderly couple. Well, it was an old woman and a younger man, so naturally I was suspicious. I wasn't in a mood to listen to someone going on about how 'gamat' is good for your health, or anything along those lines. I remembered murmuring, if that was all I remembered, because they seemed to be a blur. But anyway I later found out that they needed help jump starting their old car. Yet I was skeptical. But I nodded and said I'll put my stuff in my car first. I waited for something to happen - like some guy springing out from the back seat to rob me. I was prepared since I have 2 weapons in my car anyway. Nothing happened. How interesting.

So once I was done, I pushed their car out of the lot, and the man just jump started it as I was pushing it along a long stretch. It started pretty quickly. Toyotas, man, they do make some good cars. In fact I didn't know his engine had already started, it was pretty quiet, but I was expecting a thundering engine much like my Beetle. But anyway he thanked me and left. Nothing happened.

Which was interesting, because I felt good about helping out someone, but on the other hand thought that if I hadn't been as skeptical, I would've felt better, at least, made them feel better. Then while playing the scene in my head again on the drive back, I figured out what the woman was saying, she asked me if I could help her push their car out and jump start it, they have been waiting in the car park for some time and nobody helped. Tens of shoppers, not one willing to help. I find that rapidly disturbing. Perhaps they thought, someone else will come along to help, or they all thought the same urban thought, 'stay away from me, I don't want any trouble.'

Such is life on the urban landscape, and everyone will have to live with it. No matter how much you want to promote closer ties, or community programmes, we will never readily accept strangers with an open heart. Not when you get your papers in the morning and face another new massacre each day. If you can't assimilate, I suppose the only thing to do is retreat to a farm and keep your cow friends happy.