Spot On



If you're like me, you notice little things about people -- like habits and mannerisms and nuances.  It's always been something that amuses me.

One of the things I've noticed lately is how we humans embrace and protect our own personal spaces.  Take for example my exercise class. 

Three times a week, a group of about 15 genial ladies gather in a local church hall to stretch and tone -- or as my brother says, "stretch and moan!"  We come from all walks of life, and our fitness levels are pretty much all over the map.  But the main thing is, we like the workout and each other, so we show up faithfully.

Our fitness instructor mentioned it in class.  She said, "Do you ever notice how each of you claim your own spots and take the same places week after week?"  It was true.  A petite blonde with a terrific figure was always in front of me.  A high school acquaintance occupied the spot to my right.  A new friend with a knack for line dancing was always on my left.  And I took the middle.

All around me, the same ladies claimed the same spaces.  If one of us changed positions, we were all thrown off.  It just wasn't the same.

I've noticed a similar territorialism in churches.  Certain families and individuals occupied the same pews week after week.  Rarely did anyone change spots.  In fact, it isn't done.

Even the parking lot at the grocery store is not exempt.  Every week I nose the car into the same spot in the same area right beside the cart corral. There's a method in my madness, though.  That way I don't have to remember where I parked the car! 

As a species, we humans seem to gravitate toward the familiar.  We buy the same groceries, prepare the same dishes, watch the same TV shows and call the same friends on the phone.  We check the same websites, read the same papers, follow the same rituals, and think about the same things.

So what would happen if we messed with the status quo?  How would others take it if we changed things up a bit?  I decided to try it.

One morning I took up a different position at fitness class near the window, rather than in the middle.  "Wait a minute!", one of the other ladies exclaimed.  "You're in the wrong spot.  You're supposed to be in front of me!  I knew something was different!"

I smiled and returned to my "default setting", much like a computer program.  And you know what?  Maybe that's what's happening.  We've gotten comfortable with our "settings" and so we just return to them every time.

Just so you know ... as you read this, you're in my spot.






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