A team of researchers from Britain recently studied the attribute of territoriality in drivers. They measured how long it took for a driver to vacate a parking space when someone was waiting for it versus when no one was around. On average, if someone was waiting for the space, drivers took an average of 37 seconds to vacate for the next person. If no one was waiting, the average time was 30 seconds. How do I get a job on one of those research teams, anyway?

It’s interesting to me how we think about what spaces we’re entitled to appropriate outside of our own homes. Drivers go mad if someone “cuts them off” or follows so closely that all sorts of ass-related comebacks spring to mind like “If you’re not a hemorrhoid…” because in their own minds, they occupy the road on which they travel. Over on the garlic wagon, it is verboten for passengers to sit too closely together on a near empty bus. On a full bus, how many times does a driver have to shout “Move to the back of the bus!” before someone obediently releases their grip on the handhold and shuffles a couple token steps along the aisle?

Label makers become tools of the devil in the hands of workers who take office supplies seriously. Even a polite “Please return to Bob’s desk” benignly pasted to a stapler is a stapler pissed on and spoken for. One worker I saw went so far as to claim his warehouse cart with a note secured with packing tape. The felt tip message spelled out consequences for anyone who took the dolly without his expressed permission: “Take this cart and Die!!!!”

In a city where real estate is king and buyers are baited with promises of views, we start thinking that the space in front of us belongs to us too. Apartments and houses are touted with such selling points as Magnificent Views! 180 Views! City Views! Mountain Views! Even when it isn’t perfect and you can still see something (anything), it might be promoted as Peekaboo View or Partial View. Buyers of suites in swanky waterfront buildings freak out and call their lawyers when someone else decides to build another tower in front of them – oops, no view for you, suckers. Neighbours sue neighbours when trees are planted or cut down, or when a height extension to a house or new construction threatens the view, and therefore the property values. In my old neighbourhood, residents of one house were so upset by the dramatic heightening of the roofline of house directly in front of them that they sued for mental anguish caused by loss of their views.

I have to admit that I’m looking at a pretty fine view right now – City! Mountains! Sky! – from my little temp’s chair. Its not an extension of me, I don’t own it, I’m just glad to be here. Before long, I’ll be out the door again (from sitting all day in someone’s else’s cubicle, guarding the boss while she’s on vacation) and riding in my little space bubble on transit all the way back to my home, door locked firmly behind me, cursing the neighbours bass.

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