Public behavior affects others’ perceptions



Column by Virginia Alley. E-mail

For the most part, I’m OK with (if not greatly intrigued by) the way people behave in public.

The man who roller skated circles around the car I was sitting in, the people skipping through a walking crowd and the groups of people napping in the grass by the sidewalk — these are all little gems of human behavior I find refreshing and entertaining.

Unfortunately, for every 20 gems is one giant hunk of very ugly rock.

The particular rock on my mind this week is a very specific situation I’m willing to bet you’ve all seen before.

The scene is this: You walk into a restaurant with your friends, or perhaps even your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Knowing that restaurant outings are generally a cause to eat, chit-chat and socialize, you arrange yourselves around the table in a way conducive to communication.

As you look around the restaurant, chewing your food, some of it suddenly flies out as you gasp in horror — “My gosh, look at that poor unbalanced table over there!”

It’s true, there’s a little table, mysteriously half-empty. Fifty percent of it is covered in dishes of food, and the other half looks upset and lonely. And then your eyes come to the worst part: a couple, most likely sitting so close together you don’t know how they can move to eat, on one side of the table like they’re afraid to lose each other.

While your encounter may not have been as dramatic as this, I know it rings a bell. Like me, you might have tried to understand it and it’s very difficult to do so.

Not only is it massively annoying and sort of painful to watch, it’s no good for the two engaged in it either. I suppose it’s a move bred out of the need to show love and attachment, but those are terms to be taken abstractly.

Attachment doesn’t actually mean driving a metal bar through each other’s hips so as not to get separated (as I think some people have done).

From my experience, these behaviors can only result in confused couples who never learn how to look each other in the eye and have an intriguing conversation. And consequentially, this annoys bystanders.

In light of this problem, I offer advice. Couples, if you find yourselves walking as one human and sitting casually in positions that only super glue could hold, or sharing one side of a perfectly good two-sided table, stop.

Not only are you running the risk of scaring campus into fearing some sort of epidemic where pores leak gorilla glue, but you’re ruining the potential you have with each other.

Quit staring out at the same plane and take time to look into each other’s. I bet you’ll learn that it’s nice (and people will stop glaring!).

Virginia Alley is an English freshman. E-mail opinions@kykernel,com.