December 19, 2010

The Buffer Zone

Canada is a big and small country; big in size, comparably small in population. People drive in biggish cars, live in biggish houses and malls are not that crowded.

England is a small and big country; small in size, comparably very populous. People drive in smallish cars, live in small houses, and malls are very crowded.

Culture shock story number 303: Canadians demand a buffer.

I went to a movie at a local multiplex a couple of months ago. There were a couple of prime seats available in the desirable “handicapped” row. Not wanting to sit in the handicapped seats, I asked the guy next to me to move over one. For simplicity, let’s call him and his girlfriend “the asses”.

Here’s where they were sat:

They moved over, and we were sat as follows. Again for simplicity, let’s call me and my wife “the thinkers”.

My neighbour was incredulous when we sat directly next to them. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Well, we don’t want to sit in the handicapped seats, just in case there are any handicapped people, so we’re sitting here. If you didn’t want us to sit here, why did you move over?” I retorted.

His reply: “We moved over because I thought you wanted to create a buffer

“Are you serious?”

“What do you mean ‘am I serious?’? You just wanted to weasel my girlfriend’s seat. I’m ok with creating a buffer, but I don’t want to sit next to anyone!” He was getting angrier.

He wanted this:

I moved over as shown above, but sure enough, an elderly gentleman sat in the first handicapped spot. Just to annoy my buffer neighbour, we sat as we initially intended (like in diagram 2 above), directly next to the asses.  No buffer between us! What made me really happy was the fact that some fat teens filled up all the spots to the right of the asses, and the asses were sandwiched between us and the teens. Had the asses not been so precious, they could have preserved their buffer to the right by having moved over in the first place. The teens wouldn’t have enough places.

Empty spaces are expected in Canada. When consumers get used to a certain amount of personal space, they get rather irate when culturally insensitive crowded country types have the audacity to sit right next to them.  Maybe Cineplex Odeon should introduce “premium seating” to their Canadian theatres. After all, they are available in England. Pay a little extra, and it’s all buffer, all the time.

Having lived in Canada for 4 months now, I’m starting to feel like I might actually enjoy that.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Maybe they had Finnish ancestry? That would explain it. Though a true Finn would not say anything…. Hoping to see you soon here in Hermosa!

  2. Definitely not a Finn. A Finn would only say something if he was very drunk.

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Consumer Behaviour, Frame of Reference, Organizational Behaviour


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