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Joined: 6 Feb 2005
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Posts: 22,602
Location: The 27th Path of Peh.

23 Jun 2022, 1:29 pm

I got to thinking about something a couple days ago with something really minor, ie. trivial, that happened at a take out restaurant near where I work (I work mostly from home but maybe one day per week I make the drive across town for meetings, checking in with the owner, etc.). I'm mainly bringing it up because of the implications that came with it.

Admittedly I'm mostly not living in contact with much 'woke' expectation. Working from home I don't see it, working with an office full of guys I don't see it, and most of the time when I'm out ordering food or shopping I don't even notice much weight pressing downward from the LGBT community that I run into.

The thing that happened, again trivial, got me thinking about how to parse shoulds vs. shouldn'ts, ie. like being able to clean out the difference between the political flavor of the year vs human to human expectations.

What I say it was a 'small' thing I mean this:

The take out place I went to serves health smoothies. and there's maybe a 15' x 15' space at the front of the store to either order or wait for your order to be picked up, along with a few small cafe tables, a bar people could technically sit at on the other end of the counter which is also right where the pickup is and then another bar with stools opposite the door along the windows. I was leaning on the bar by the windows, my order came in two parts (first the sandwich then the drink). When I picked up the shake there's 12" x 12" box that the straws were sticking out of. There was also a patron, I think she was either late teens or early 20's, who was within a foot of it. I was already maybe a foot and a half away from that same box on the other side of it. When I reached over to grab a straw she leaned back in surprise like I'd done something socially inappropriate by reaching into her territory.

Stupidly small thing but it hits on all kinds of interesting areas. For one, lets consider my radius where if someone 'enters' that space in some manner, it does feel bizarre if I'm out in the open, not by anything uniquely needed by other people in that space, and someone sidles up next to me. OTOH, for myself, if I was at McDonalds and standing with my back to the ketchup dispenser and someone needed ketchup, it would be assinine for me to react to them like they'd creeped me out.

That was my read of the situation and consequently I completely ignored her and felt fine in doing so.

The reason why I feel like this is worth writing about is that when I run into, provisionally, NT's in public spaces - things typically go fine until they set up some sort of catch-22 or double bind with personal space. I think the girl at the counter just wasn't paying attention and reacted instinctively (ie. that it actually was an innocent faux pa) but I also think of the bearded a***holes in their 40's at the grocery store who swagger like they're too badass for their own good, are as slow as they can be, are as rude to other people as they can be, really to flaunt the attitude of 'If you don't like it that's okay - I'll punch your lights out'.

When I see any of that I'm really okay with being, at least coldly, disagreeable.

That said I'm pretty sure with the bearded a***hole if I cut around them rudely or shoved their BS back at them I don't think people would take much notice other than a bit 'That was ballsy'. OTOH, with the girl at the counter, I could imagine being in a place where four other women looked over, agreed that I did some sort of microaggression, thankfully - and encouragingly - I was in a place that's semi-rural, there were a lot of female patrons in there and none of them seemed to bat an eyelid at the interaction. If there had been a larger guy in there and she'd said something to me about it I probably would have walked away because I'd consider that a great opportunity for the guy to try and insert himself, 'white knight' for a phone number, etc. if anything went back and forth (and TBH I would have probably ignored it even if that wasn't the case).

I guess the whole take-away value that I'm trying to approach with this OP, and this thread, is to look closely at what NT's do with the following:

1) Status hierarchy
2) Group hierarchy and expectations
3) Gender expectations - if they actually have any existence outside of political affiliations (outside of really obvious exceptions - like walking in an open space alone).

I mean this on the really anodyne level, ie. all of the gray areas where everyone could be acting in good faith, no one actually does do anything wrong, and yet a conflict ensues because some conflict of expectations occurs. Things like this are worth giving time to IMHO because the clearer you are on them and the more you've thought about them the more confident you are no matter what happens and, better still, the situation only clings to you long enough to have figured out either 'Yeah - that wasn't my problem' or 'Wow, yeah, I was a bit of a d---, I'll try to do better next time'. Having too much time in the gray area between those two seems like a recipe for mental illness and some really self-abusive heuristics (to which - I used to have a lot of these).

And from there I'm interested in who else might be chewing on 'small stuff' like social space, use of space, misusing vs. abusing boundaries (ie. faux pa vs. rudeness for dominance sake). Supposedly in India there have been instances where someone of a lower class could be executed for crossing a Brahman's shadow ('supposedly', I'm not ruling that out as apocryphal) and that's a place where the rules are really clear. Here in the west at least it's much more squishy and it has a lot to do with local norms.

The other thing that's tricky - a lot of times when one tries to dominate a social space or build status or roll out domination of one kind or another by inconvenience or spatial infractions it seems like either solipsism is naively involved or in other cases being used quite tactically and deliberately.

All of that of course - way down stream and exponentially further along the curve than the situation I described, but still, it got me thinking in a useful way. I call it 'being disagreeable' when you decide to do what you were going to do anyway without them there and simply don't factor them into the equation. In a lot of situations I'm perfectly okay with being assertive, even if I'm technically a member of the creepy/rapey gender by current thinking, it's actually worse IMHO in a lot of these cases to tip-toe around every possible or perceivable microaggression against anyone. Not only is that sort of soul and integrity-eating but it then reads as cowardice to the same people, in which case if you have a binary choice between being seen as bold/rude vs. cowardly, bold/rude is the much safer way to go because you don't - additionally for example - fail a victim interview from across the room somewhere else.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you'll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privelege of owning yourself" - Rudyard Kipling