metro: courtesy is a thankless pursuit

a man on crutches is standing in a metro train while two apparently able-bodied riders sit in the designated priority seating. the caption reads: he doesn't have to stand for this

There’s one school of thought that etiquette exists to make others comfortable.* WMATA’s latest campaign seems to be right along those lines. The primary focus is to make sure that priority seating is available to those who need it, but they’re also sneaking in a few common courtesy tips as well.

This brings us around to another, possibly more widely-practiced, concept of etiquette: to make oneself feel better. While I usually encounter this on a daily basis in the name of chivalry**, this morning’s commute saw the third time I’ve seen someone make an offer of a seat… that was declined.

You’d think that would be the end of it, an offer, a refusal and everyone keeps riding. Yeah, right. In each of these instances, the person offering the seat proceeded to go on talking for at least another minute to: themselves, their friend and this morning to the person refusing. Each time about how they’re just trying to be nice and how maybe they shouldn’t even bother and how now they’re being made to feel bad! While the man this morning was very polite in offering his seat, the woman refusing was equally polite considering that she probably just didn’t want to interact with the dude at all.

So please, if you take it upon yourself to perform an unsolicited act of kindness and it isn’t accepted or well-received, let it go. Or to translate for the selfless-impaired: they’re the jerk for refusing, don’t dwell on it and possibly make yourself a bigger jerk in the process. :mrgreen:

* There are also, of course, both more sinister and selfless interpretations, all of which I won’t go into at this time. 😈

** Yes, it was absolutely necessary to make all of us wait to get off the elevator or walk through that door just so your warped sense of masculinity could be appeased by letting the female go first.†

† And don’t think we all didn’t notice you totally checking out her ass.

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3 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Old joke: young woman on subway asks a seated man if he would give her his seat as she was pregnant. He does so, but notices that she is quite slim and svelte. He asks her, “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but how far along are you?” She replied “About 20 minutes.”

  2. Neal says:

    I used to always offer my seat on MARTA to the womenz or older folks, and rarely was it accepted. When someone did accept it was almost always a nurse at the Medical Center station and they always looked beat down when the train would arrive.

    I’m guilty also of the “chivalry” thing. I always step aside and let the woman off of the elevator first. Its kind of awkward sometimes but it is hardwired in my brain that you open doors, etc for ladies. I’m also bad about holding the door for a unnecessary length of time if someone is coming up the walk behind me. Maybe I need counseling.

    latest entry: Sinful Attraction

  3. Brian says:

    My mother told me this story once, about how she was about to sit down on the train (NYC subway Circa 1970’s) and as she was sitting, this guy made a dash and tried to sit down first. Well, my mom can be kind of ballsy, so she just sat down on his lap.

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