There are four things that make me seriously uncomfortable – snakes, people behind me, mayonnaise, and being photographed. All of these things make me so uncomfortable, some of them almost to the point of not being able to function.
I have a hard time with someone sitting or standing or walking behind me. I’m not sure where it comes from, but it has manifested itself to the point that if I’m not sitting in the back corner of room, like in a restaurant or at a meeting, I find it so hard to relax and not worry about someone coming up behind me. When it does happen, my friends joke, “Don’t worry, nobody is going to come up behind you and kill you." That isn’t really the fear though. I can’t pinpoint what it is, but it’s not that someone might come behind me and kill me, although if that happens my friends would feel pretty bad don’t you think.
This is also the case when I’m walking with people. I tend to move to the back of the group and usually walk through a door last.
I have a good friend, Paul, who is a very nice guy and has VERY good manners. However his manners and my phobia don’t mix so well. It’s actually kind of like a comedy routine. If we are walking through a doorway he is a gentleman and stops to let me go through first, but I stop to let him go first since I don’t want him walking behind me. We stand there motioning for the other one to go first. When we go through a door that has to be opened, we both hold it open and motion the other one through. We motion repeatedly until someone finally breaks down. Usually it’s him, but if it’s me I run through very quickly laughing uncomfortably.
The other day we went through this routine as we walked through a doorway and then up a set of stairs. I won out both times, but he commented repeatedly about how he was not being polite. However, on the way down the stairs, he went first without any motioning by me. I joked with him that I wore him down and wrecked his good manners. Instead he told me that it is actually appropriate etiquette for the man to go down a flight of stairs first. I laughed and asked him if that was in case I tripped, he would break my fall. Yes, that is why. He was very relieved that in this instance his manners and my freaky behavior were compatible. Now if we can just figure out how to always be walking down a set of stairs when we are together.