Park bench etiquette

The sun was shining today, so I played hooky for an hour this morning to wander around outside. Armed with my camera and my new Kindle (birthday present from Toby!), I walked to the park to take some pictures of the crocuses and to dawdle a little in the sun. The feel of it on my face was heaven!

But I did come up with an interesting question – what is proper park bench etiquette when it comes to a single bench, positioned ever so perfectly in the direction of the sun, that already has one occupant on it? The older gentleman was sitting at one end of the bench, and I strongly debated sitting myself down on the other end. But, he had his eyes closed and I didn’t want to disturb him, so I wandered a little more and found my own, unoccupied bench, almost as perfectly positioned.

And then I pondered. Wouldn’t his choice to sit at one end of the bench indicate that he was open to sharing his spot in the sun? I’m only concluding this because I’ve seen people sit smack in the middle of a bench – a rather clear indicator of the desire to be left alone. It’s an important consideration due to the fact that when the sun does finally shine here, the people come out in droves to soak it in. I.e., there’s a very high likelihood that my bench of choice will be at least partially occupied.

As with anything related to learning and integrating oneself into a new culture, the best method is probably to observe, mimic, and then adapt the behavior to suit your own personality. It worked for three days of Karneval partying….

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5 thoughts on “Park bench etiquette

  1. I imagine if one is seated at the edge of the bench, the rest of the seat is fair game. I don’t think most Europeans feel the need for their three feet of space like Americans do. When I lived in Paris, I was surprised when someone would plop down almost right next to me in an empty movie theater. Of course, that was years ago. Maybe times have changed. :)

    • No, space here is still definitely more a community thing. In restaurants it’s totally normal for random parties to share a table because no other space is available. Next time I’ll join the old guy on the bench :)

  2. First, I love the crocus picture! My thoughts on park bench etiquette – if there’s an empty bench within view I probably wouldn’t sit on his bench but if they were all occupied to some degree I would sit down. PS – in no time we’d be talking!

  3. Pingback: I’m back | chanceofsun

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