Personal Space Invader

December 5, 2010

in Server Stories

Some time ago I went to a chain restaurant (think of a fruit and honey-making insect) with my mother and sister. The food was good, the service was good, we had a fun time. We’re amicable people, and enjoy small-talk with waiters… well, my mum and sister do, I’m hard of hearing so I’m generally quiet. The only problem I had that day was with the waiter himself.

Perhaps I’m a little odd, but I have a rather large territorial bubble that I DO NOT like people violating. Even long-time friends have to give me my space or I get nervous.

This waiter wasn’t rude, he was well groomed, smelled nice, and attended to our needs wonderfully. But he was violating my territorial bubble!

We’d been seated at a booth, but I sat on a regular chair on the outside of the table (yes, my crazy bubble rules apply to even family members). My mum was jovially conversing with the waiter when he brought the check; he seemed to be enjoying himself. He was standing next to me, but I did my best to concentrate on my soda and be polite.

But he kept inching closer. And closer. Closer. I nearly fell out of my chair when I noticed the side of my face was barely an inch away from his stomach. Still trying to keep my cool, I remained in my seat and leaned over. Dear God, he kept moving closer! He didn’t seem to notice that he was seriously disturbing me. I kept leaning more and more over. My sister didn’t fail to notice my situation; she was muffling her laughter into a napkin, just watching the ordeal and waiting for me to freak out and launch out of my seat, screaming like a psycho… which probably would have happened if I had to endure my personal space being invaded much longer.

Fortunately I made it. I didn’t mortify myself, my family, or the waiter. He really was nice and good at his job, so I couldn’t be angry about him encroaching on my personal space and I didn’t want to be rude by, say, telling him to get the hell away from me or biting him. On his own accord he bid us a good day and left before I toppled out of my chair or had a psychotic episode.

My sister laughed long and hard when we left the restaurant. She told me the expression on my face was absolutely priceless–a look of sheer terror and anxiety, all whilst I was trying to nonchalantly sip my soda and lean sideways.

Now I sit inside the booths. I’d rather tolerate the intrusion on my personal space by a family member rather than a complete stranger… even if he is a wonderful waiter wearing expensive cologne.

– Sik

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

The Teenage Tourist December 6, 2010 at 7:01 am

Sounds like you have claustrophobia. That must really suck!


Jake August 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Sounds like his sister is a complete bitch. She needs a class on how to help a loved one with a mental illness/disorder.


James August 21, 2014 at 12:02 am

I don't think it is a mental illness — some people prefer more space than others.

Personally, I prefer to have enough space to turn around or raise an arm without bumping into somebody. And I don't see anything wrong with that.


DooWiki December 6, 2010 at 9:18 am

Sounds like you shouldn't eat out.


GingerG December 6, 2010 at 9:52 am

I've worked at that very chain in the past. The booths are not designed to allow an outside chair, I'm surprised they allowed that. You were actually in the waiter's normal standing space, so your being in that spot obviously threw him off.


Sik December 6, 2010 at 10:09 am

The restaurant was pretty empty, perhaps that's why they allowed it? I'm not sure, but I asked and the waiter kindly brought me a chair from another table.

And, yes, I was more in his way than he was in mine, which is why I couldn't be angry that he was invading my space. 🙂


Jack December 6, 2010 at 12:40 pm

It sounds like you have a serious phobia that you should deal with by seeing a doctor. Being out in public places seems to stress you more then it stresses a normal person. You really need professional help.


rerere December 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I agree with Jack by saying you need help. SOME personal space is normal, however when your family and friends become a problem, that is when the bell should be going off in your head


Peace Lover December 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Don't worry it's perfectly normal to be sensative with one's space. I myself feel uncomfortable in large crowds causing me to feel vulnerable. You just have to know that there is nothing to be scared off. I would offer you a reassuring hug but I wouldent want to invade your bubble!


Jack December 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

It's not "normal" to be that sensitive. When crazy bubble rules apply to even family members, it's time to seek help. What's even more worrisome is the persons inability to say something when he noticed the side of his face was barely an inch away from the waiters stomach. I think I would have said something like "excuse me".

With proper treatment Sik could probably live a happier life.


Sik December 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm


Omg, therapy? Are you people serious? Jebus, it's not that bad! XD I come from a family on non-touchy touchy feely people. I'd rather not be crowded by family members, but it doesn't mean I'm *afraid* of them and need therapy.

It's really not unusual for people to feel uncomfortable with a stranger standing too closely. It was a shock to suddenly find the waiter's stomach within an inch of my ear and it freaked me out. My personal bubble is hardly crippling, though. Being partially deaf is more hindering in my life than my personal bubble.

"Excuse me…" what? "Excuse me, you're violating my territory." Yeah, that doesn't sound weird at all. Or, "Excuse me, I don't like people being too close to me." Nope, that still sounds kinda weird. The waiter didn't do anything wrong, I didn't want to sound rude. I dealt with my discomfort until he went on his merry way.

And last but not least…I'm a "she."

Peace Lover

Daaw, sorry about that, dude. :[ How about a virtual hug over the interwebs, eh? *hug* Hehe


Jack December 8, 2010 at 5:04 pm

If you are afraid you will "freak out and launch out of my seat, screaming like a psycho…" because someone is standing too close to you, I think there is a problem. A simple "oh, excuse me" with a smile on your face would probably have given the waiter a clue he was too close.

Hey, you have to live with your condition every day, so only you know how much it affects you. Having a problem like that is nothing to be ashamed of. You simply can't help how you feel.


taylor December 11, 2010 at 9:43 am

I think the fact that you had to sit outside of the booth because you are THAT uncomfortable with your family members, even, does signify an issue.


summn December 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Ok, first of all, I think it's pretty obnoxious of anyone to judge you based on nothing but a couple hundred word anecdote, especially when most people exaggerate for comedic affect when telling anecdotes. I'm sure you've THOUGHT about solutions to this problem, such as what type of table layout to request and whether you get upset enough to need to stick to take-out meals or see a shrink… you don't need suggestions or labels from us! Assuming you even DID need advice, you obviously have people in your life other than random trolls who you could ask advice from.

She's just trying to entertain us with a wacky story, people! Stop sticking your noses where they don't belong!

Anyhow, Sik… This reminds me of a story I have, also about a server violating my personal space. It was one of those white-trash breakfast chains (we were on a road trip and desperate, is my excuse) and I was on the outer position of a booth, with my 2 buddies on the inner seats. Well, this waitress was really determined to set the food & drinks down in front of each person, rather than let us take them from her midair. As she reached accross me over & over, her gunt would drape dangerously close to my plate. I tried to lean towards her so she'd back off by "feeling my force field" but she was oblivious (I don't understand people who don't notice a personal-space overlap…isn't it instinctive?). I tried taking things from her to pass them down but she wouldn't let go. She was so determined to stick to her methods that we all started giggling- it was too lame to even be upsetting. I survived, though I certainly avoided eating certain parts of my meal, LOL! My buds still, 3 years later, tease me, "remember that time the waitress kept dangling her gunt in your food?"


Jack December 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm

When a story is posted, the poster, in most cases expects comments. Those that comment are not necessarily "trolls". When a person writes they have a "bubble" that excludes even family members, and they are afraid they might mortify themselves or their family, when that bubble is violated, what type of comments would you expect?

Me thinks you are the troll. btw…what is a "gunt"?


Steph December 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm


I didn't know what it meant either, so I searched it on the net and found this definition of gunt on

"Bulging area found on large older women between the waist and the genital area. Not quite a gut, not quite a cunt… The Gunt"

How disgusting!! Yeah, I'd definitely feel that my personal space was being invaded if a gunt thing got too close to me or my food.


Sik December 13, 2010 at 7:25 pm

FINALLY someone who understands exaggeration for comedy! I salute you! Thank you very much. 🙂

True, I get uncomfortable when my space is invaded, even more when it's invaded by strangers, but hey–I got through college just fine, I can do my Christmas shopping, I can ride in a car with other people. I'm a horrible conversationalist, but hardly need to visit a couch. It is pretty silly how complete strangers think they know you well enough to tell you to see a shrink after reading a short comedic story .

And WHOA, damn, that's…kinda yucky, lol. Yeah, some people just have no concept of personal space. Like this gal I knew in college told me she was engaged, couple days later I see her in the store and she's hanging all over this guy. I cheerfully asked if the guy was her fiance, and she tells me no, he's her brother. Ftw??

XD Gunt. I'll file that next to Cankles.


taylor December 14, 2010 at 5:18 am

you literally told us you had to sit on the outside of the booth because even your family members can't 'violate your personal bubble.' i don't see the exaggeration for comedic effect.


Sik December 14, 2010 at 8:56 am

Screaming like a psycho and biting people in response to them invading my territory–exaggerated. For comedic effect.

It's like when you're hungry and say, "I'm starving!" Or when someone surprises you and you say, "You almost gave me a heart attack!" It's a hyperbole to colorfully describe a reaction.

I adore my family, but they can still make me feel uncomfortably crowded if I'm squeezed into close quarters with them.


Jack December 14, 2010 at 3:03 pm

>I adore my family, but they can still make me feel uncomfortably crowded if I’m squeezed into close quarters with them.<

This is because you have an issue. Perhaps it's with your family, or people in general, but you have an issue that most people don't have.


Sik December 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm

You have an issue with believing people have issues. XD

I have an issue most people don't have? I doubt that. It's not all that odd that I don't behave exactly like you.


Darth Babaganoosh January 5, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Exaggerated, maybe. Comedic, no.


Jess December 17, 2010 at 4:29 am



Reddy December 17, 2010 at 10:48 am

Wow! Judgemental much?!


Jack December 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

How's that being judgmental? No one asked Sik to post her story here. Any posing here is open to comments. You're reading someones opinion which is what this site is all about.

To me, Sik sounds like someone with problems. I don't know how severe they are, but when the issues start to interfere with your day to day life, it's time to get help.


College Kid January 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Xanax ftw. Im glad your mother supports your eccentricities but everyone else thinks you’re a jackass.


Kim Craig April 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Why do you put everyone down Jack?


MuffinBunny May 8, 2011 at 4:36 am

I know what you mean, to an extent. I too don't like people getting too close to me uninvited.
And you all need to remember how tight those chain-restaurant booths can be. At those places it's all designed to fit as many people as they can cram into the space, so it's not that unusual to feel uncomfortable in a booth like that, even if you don't have "issues".
Also, what is with everyone thinking that this is a problem? Just because it's not how YOU personally feel doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it at all. Some people just don't like being touched without their permission and they deserve to have that respected. And erin: get a life, seriously.
And by the way, uninvited touching of people or being way too close to them when it is clearly not desired is a stone's throw away from being illegal, if you've asked them to move away. Clearly doesn't apply to this specific situation, but to a certain extent we do own the space around us.


jonasgal December 2, 2014 at 4:55 am

You stated "And erin: get a life, seriously" There's no "erin" that was replying! Who are you referring to?!!? I've checked the comments twice and no poster by the name of "erin"


Mel November 3, 2016 at 11:18 am

I worked at the fruit/bee place for several years. There was nowhere else for him to stand if you had a chair at the end of the booth. It's good you didn't have a psychotic episode (why you would is a mystery), but your judgmental tone makes me think he didn't get as good of a tip as he should have from you. It's not his fault that you chose to put a seat there and you are claustrophobic. I agree with others, you need therapy for this. If you're literally raging because of this, you need to see a doctor.


Flick May 6, 2017 at 10:16 pm

No, why she would is not mystery. Why she would is because she has an anxiety or other disorder that makes her especially sensitive to the presence of others. I personally have GAD as well as social anxiety which means my GAD is sometimes exacerbated by my social anxiety. It's day I'll be fine, the next day I have to take an ativan because someone is too close to me in line at the grocery store. I agree that her desired positioning didn't offer him many places to go but her reasons definitely aren't a mystery.


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