The annoyance of sitting next to someone. You’ve experienced it. I know you have. Whether it was you who needed to sit by someone hacking and wheezing while sounding deathly sick or someone plunked themselves beside you ?and wouldn’t stop moving or talking loudly on their phone that you just wanted to get up and leave.
Problem is, you often can’t go anywhere. But if you do, do you look like a jerk who’s going to have people staring at you because you obviously didn’t want to sit next to a person? For the most part, public perception goes out the window when it’s a matter of our personal comfort.
Here is where I am different than most people. I actually want others to sit by me. Why? It makes me feel not gross. I’ll tell you what I mean.
When you are on a bus or a subway, people look for an open seat. Once they find one they look to see who is occupying the other side of it. They make a snap decision, “Do I sit beside him or not?” There could be a brief moment of hesitation and scramble to look for another place to sit before they reach that seat or they could just grab for the sake of sitting down. (On a plane or at a concert they’re forced to sit by you if there’s nothing else available.)
Generally a seat is a seat and people will take it if it is available but the neighbour is a consideration for most people. When someone has made eye contact with you and there is a seat open beside you, chances are they have quickly judged you to see if you are decent to sit beside.
So yes, at times I take it personally if a person looks at me, then looks away and grabs a seat somewhere else. It has made me thought, “What was wrong with me that you couldn’t sit beside me?”
Then again there are probably times I have seen the sweaty, sneezy person and thought, “Please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me” but they have displayed undesirable characteristics and my judging is justified. At least in my mind, anyway.
Who knew there could be so much politics in seat selection?