The time has come. You’re decked out in your Safe Six face mask and surgical gloves and you’re ready for a big day of grocery shopping… grad parties… and social distancing.
But what happens if other shoppers and family members don’t show you the same social distancing courtesies? What if the guy in the bread aisle crowds in on you while you’re browsing the bagels? Or Aunt May comes in for the kiss and invades your “Safe Six” space?
The truth is, asserting your physical boundaries can be hard. Even as the world begins to reopen, social distancing is still in practice, and things that we once considered polite – holding the door, handshakes, and (gulp) hugs – are now the very things we are trying to avoid. And things we never thought twice about like standing right next to a person in line, or using the keypad on a credit card machine, are now considered downright risky behavior.
So, how do you tell someone to back off without actually asking them to back off?
Here are a few of our favorite ways to (politely) ask for your “Safe Six” space:
1. Use the old “it’s not you, it’s me” approach.
If someone crowds your space in line, a simple comment like, “ Oh, I’m still getting the hang of this 6’ distance thing. Why don’t you go ahead of me” quickly gets you out of a too close for comfort situation – without making it uncomfortable for the other person.
2. Model kind, courteous behavior.
If you are walking or running on the sidewalk and you see someone coming your way, head to the street and wave politely. Not only does it put a few more feet between you and them, but it shows people that you are doing your part.
3. Blame someone else (in this case, the CDC.)
Don’t worry: you won’t be the first. If someone invades your personal space, say something like, “I think the CDC says we should stay at least 6 feet apart.” Not only is this a true statement, but it takes the onus (and awkwardness) off of you.
4. Stand your ground.
Drastic times call for drastic (or should we say plastic) measures. There’s nothing wrong with using those doggie poo bags to grab your cart handles, and don’t be embarrassed to whip out your pool noodle to literally measure out your “Safe Six” space. In times like these, looking like a fool could be the smartest thing you do.
5. Wear "Safe Six" Apparel and Gear
Safe Six apparel tells people where you stand on social distancing without you even having to open your mouth. Sure, they may need a gentle reminder. If someone invades your space, just point to your Safe Six shirt, hat or button.