Spatial Courtesy (or the lack thereof)
One thing I noticed soon after arriving in Norway, that has just grown more… noticeable… is a very different attitude towards personal space. As in, there isn’t any. Now, this is a brooooooad generalization, based on my own experience, so if you are a Norwegian who thinks this simply doesn’t apply to YOU, by all means consider yourself exempted from the following rant, and unbunch your panties if they’re tending that way.
Here’s how it works. I’m walking down the sidewalk. It’s a nice wide sidewalk. A group of three are walking abreast, chatting, coming in my direction. I move to the side. They don’t adjust at all. I scooch to the very edge and turn sideways so I don’t get mowed down. I’m curious what would happen if I just stopped and stood still, but most Norwegians are at least a foot taller than I am, so I haven’t tried that. I’ve spent more footsteps dodging other humans here in the last six months than I can believe.
Another example: two sinks in the ladies’ room. Some girl, let’s call her Amy, is standing in front of the left sink, fiddling with her hair, so I use the right sink. Meanwhile, girl #3 (she will be… Mathilda!) comes out of a stall. Mathilda has no sink access, because Amy is still standing around preening. The entire wall of the bathroom is mirrors, so scooting sideways whilst primping would really not be a big deal. Scooting sideways out of range of the sink and hand dryer is a bit more problematic. Amy can obviously see Mathilda, she’s standing right there behind her, in the mirror. But first come, first serve is apparently the rule, so Mathilda is SOL ‘til I leave. Lucky for her I’m not a primper.
(And the waitress nearly bowls me over on my way back to my table. Maybe I’m just invisible.)
Compare and contrast to Singapore, where a veritable sea of people happily cruise every which way through MRT stations and along Orchard Road with nary a handbag bumping into a stranger despite the fact that it’s packed wall-to-wall. If Singapore’s population had Norway’s attitude, it would be pure mayhem. People would be falling over in the middle of the street, having successfully concussed each other.
At least if the drivers were Norwegian, those people lying in the street would be safe, because pedestrians always win in Norway. I guess traffic would simply back up til somebody carted away the bodies. If the drivers were Singaporean, they’d just honk and swerve