They say that Malcolm always sat with his back to the wall. I can understand that ~ since he made some controversial (is that strong enough?) statements, I'm sure he wanted to be able to see anyone coming in the room.
I'm the same way, but not for the same reasons. I'm not much of a public figure, and I don't think anyone has me on their assassination list, but I still get uncomfortable when I can't see the whole room. Maybe it's left over from when I was in middle & high school, and (like probably everyone in the world) I was worried about everyone talking about me, and felt like if I could see them, they wouldn't make fun of me. And it extends to leading worship. If I'm not in front (with my back to the wall, and able to see everyone), I'm in the back, still with everyone in front of me. On the flip side, though, when I am able to see and hear what's going on around me, I'm often distracted and not able to accomplish the task in front of me.
Beyond the visual, I also like to be aware aurally, and so I've never been a fan of wearing earphones in public. I don't have an issue with anyone else wearing them, but I don't like to because it means I'm not as aware of what's going on around me. Even if I'm somewhere where nothing around me matters and I'm completely anonymous (like in the airport), I like to be able to hear.
The other day, my regular spot in one of my regular coffee houses was occupied, and I was forced to sit in the middle of the room. For a moment, I felt out of my element. But then, without either warning or even really my own knowledge, the world I allowed myself to be exposed to shrunk considerably. I got out my portable music player and headphones, I focused on mundane computer-oriented tasks (tedious, but necessary), and drank my tea. Before long, I realized I'd been sitting there for over an hour, hadn't been distracted once, and had gotten a lot done.
I know about myself that I like for my focus to be wide, to be able to know what the big picture is, to be aware of what's going on around me. I've learned, though, that sometimes it's important to put on blinders & earplugs to block out all the distractions and to create a much smaller world even than the one wandering by a neighborhood coffee shop.