Captain Karen's Etiquette Lessons - Riding the Bus

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
My only resolution for the new year is going to be to speak up more. Don’t worry so much about what others think of me and try to say what I’m thinking or feeling. Today I stepped up to the plate and knocked the first of many out of the park. More on that in a moment.

One of my big commuter pet peeves is seat hogs on public transit. Granted, we all like to have a double seat to ourselves so that we don’t have to put our bags on our laps or the dirty floors, we don’t have to squeeze our elbows into our ribcages, or worry about someone sneezing/coughing/spitting/vomiting on us while we head into work. I find it interesting the sheer number of people who refuse, until confronted, to move their stuff or shift over in order to allow one of their fellow riders to sit down rather than stand.

However, equally annoying is people who complain about these seat hogs but refuse to do anything about it other than bitch bitch bitch to me hoping to find a sympathetic ear. If it bothers you so much, do something about it or shut the F*&K up please…I’d rather read my book which is open and awaiting my attention which you seem to have completely missed when you interrupted my morning quiet time. This morning was a prime example.

For the past few days, I’ve noticed a man in a big blue fluffy parka who sits in the aisle seat, leaving the window seat empty. He does not have a bag that’s occupying the seat, no seeing-eye dog, and his coat isn’t so puffy that it requires too seats. I’m aware that many people have particular seat preferences, that’s why on airplanes you often get the choice of a window or aisle seat. Heck, during my university days, I used to sit in the exact same spot on just about every bus I would get on (when I could) – just one of those quirks we all have. Perhaps blue coat preferred the aisle. Fair enough.

I took an empty seat behind him, sitting beside a middle aged woman who instantly tried to strike up a conversation regarding the man in front of us. Comments about how rude it is, doesn’t it bother you, blah blah blah. I smiled politely and nodded wishing she’d shut up so I could read. Eventually she did but as more and more people piled onto the bus and some had to stand I began to wonder why this lady didn’t say something. If it bothered her so much, why doesn’t she do something about it? Finally, when it became obvious he wasn’t going to move over and she wasn’t going to publicly air her grievance, I whipped into action.

Poke, poke, poke went my fingers into his heavily padded blue shoulder. He immediately turned around. In a loud (but polite) voice I asked him to move over so someone could sit down (calm down people, keep your cheering until the end of the story). I barely finished my sentence when he popped up out of his chair and allowed someone to move into the window seat and he took his spot in the aisle seat again. I felt quite proud of myself, willing to take a chance when those around me were too timid to risk it.

The lady beside me? Not a single word. She didn’t even acknowledge my good deed – not that that is why I did it but holy smokes lady! Sheesh. Oh well, I can only hope that perhaps the next time something like that irks her, she’ll follow my example and speak up. Now if only I could do something about the obviously hearing impaired teens who blare their music so loud that those at the back of the bus can hear it loud and clear.


Heather said...

They respond to a kick to their feet. Believe me. I've done it. I'm not brave enough to try their shins, but I suspect it might have disastrous results.

Gardenia said...

That makes me irritated too - really she wanted you to fix it, or she wanted to just gripe. We live our lives stuck in these triangles. We have a rude generation - I was always taught if a gray haired person gets on public transport or comes in a room with no seats available, get up and give them your seat. Or guys for women - now be prepared to be knocked down by the stronger guy who wants the seat. Aisle sitters who won't get up to allow sitters in beside them are top of the rude list too! Here's toast to your courage! Good New Year's resolution.

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