Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hey here's a question about giving up your seat on public transpo

GIVING UP YOUR SEAT ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.  I know, seventy billion hits, right?  The only way I could stir up more interest would be to change this to "Giving up your seat to someone WITH A BIKE in San Francisco" or "Giving up your seat to GAY MARRIAGE SOLYNDRA GUN CONTROL."

ANYWAY.  I was going to do a whole Urban Etiquette post about Proper Behavior on Public Transpo but frankly I don't have the time and a topic like that requires book-length soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture treatment.  TRANSIT FUCKS II: TAKE OFF YOUR FUCKING BACKPACK, in theaters this summer.

So let's confine ourselves to one specific topic: Giving up your seat.  Who do you give up your seat for?  I have a few basic categories that I always jump up to accommodate:

1. Any woman who appears to be at least 20 years older than me

Now, keep in mind, I'm pretty old, so we're talking the headscarf & dentures crowd here.  If you're young enough to not feel inappropriate at Delirium, you can probably adjust this to any woman who appears to be 40 years older than you.

2. Any old man who looks like he needs a seat

If he has gray hair but looks robust and vital, he can stand.  If he has a cane or is wheeling a portable oxygen cylinder, be my guest.

3. Anyone who appears to be pregnant or have a physical disability of some type or who at least says they do and asks

Although honestly, in 22 years of riding Muni, I have never once had anyone ask for my seat.  I never sit in those seats in the front reserved for the handicapped, though.  I always get up for the pregs.  Now that The Wife is one of them, she says that the only people who offer their seats are other womyn.  WHAT UP DUDES, why so thoughtless?  She's pregnant!  Get the fuck up! 

Other situations are handled on a case-by-case basis.  Like if some chick is struggling with a heavy parcel of some type, I'll usually at least offer. 

So here's my dilemma: WHAT ABOUT KIDS. 

This morning, a woman gets on with 2 kids and they're standing there and one guy gives up his seat and the girl in the seat next to him vacates at the next stop, so the kids get the seats with the Mom standing next to them.

So here's the question: when a Mom or Dad gets on with toddler-or-above-age kids, kids that can clearly stand and walk on their own, do you give up your seat for them?  I mean, if a Mom or Dad has a very young kid they're holding, it's a duh, of course you give up your seat.  But what if the kid is like the age of these kids above? 

Complicating this in my mind is the fact that I saw a sticker someone stuck to the inside of a bus once that said "YOUR KIDS CAN STAND. GIVE ADULTS THE SEAT."  Really!  That really happened.  Isn't that so, so San Francisco?  So many layers.

So what's the right call here?  I'm genuinely curious.

This has been your Obsessing Over a Very Minor Thing of the Day.


GG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GG said...

No way. The kids clearly aren't going to work, they can go home and take a nap if their legs feel tired. Plus, it's a good lesson to remind them that life sucks sometimes, and they need to STFU and deal.

Your post was timely for me because I've been wrestling with the dilemma lately that I have a painful, but invisible, and temporary, foot injury and I'm not sure if it's OK for me to ask someone who seems to not be disabled to give up a disabled seat on a crowded BART train. Yes, it's hard for me to stand right now, but I'm not DISABLED. So far, I've just decided to ride while standing on one foot. My ride's less than 10 minutes, so it's not that big a deal.

Lisa said...

I'm gonna be the jerk who doesn't actually answer the question but: inside seats. I like to avoid all these social etiquette dilemmas by taking the inside seat so the person on the outside seat looks like a jackass. I'm 5'7" & don't mind scrunching up on those over the wheel well seats, which I realize may not be an option for everyone.

As for kids, I agree with GG. This goes quadruple for teenagers. Those shits should be taught by their parents that if ANYONE with any sort of age on them shows up on public transport, they should give their seat up immediately. All those healthy, able bodied kids should learn now a) how to be exceedingly polite and b) that life kinda sucks and isn't fair.

The ONLY sort of sympathy I have for kids sitting is that I can imagine as a harried parent, when you have multiple kids, sitting them in a seat, as shown in the picture, it's probably easier to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren't grabbed by scary strangers than if you're all standing. But that means my sympathy more runs with the parent than that kids should get to sit.

Anonymous said...

Your pregnant wife has got it right. It is always women who give up their seats for pregnant ladies. I don’t know what that is about. A few times I have been in a seat several rows back and in a corner from a pregnant lady on BART, and when no one offers her a seat, I will stand up and say loudly, “Would you like to sit down?” And then someone will offer her a seat that’s closer. I feel like a jerk doing that (kinda), but fuck those people for not giving up their seat to a pregnant lady.

As for giving up seats for kids, I think it depends on the situation. I usually offer my seat to any parent struggling with kids or any kid, say, 5 years old or younger. I know that if I brought my 16-month old spawn on Muni or BART I would be super grateful if someone offered a seat to us. It’s hard work toting a kid around, as you will soon discover.

LB said...

I tend to not offer up seats to a parent w/ a kid, unless the parent is struggling or it's a baby. I guess if it's a whole family and they need to sit together (mainly to stay out of everyone's way) that'd be another reason.

On a similar subject, I've noticed the latest trend is for someone (usually a 20-something guy) to stay seated but ask an older person if they'd like their seat. That way, the onus is on the person standing to be the jerk and say "yes, yes, please get up for me." It's always our inclination to say "oh no don't worry about it," so the lazy guy feels like he was polite, without having to sacrifice his seat.

Common courtesy (or lack of) on public transit makes me realize America is doomed.

hez said...

I am ever amazed at the thoughtlessness and douche-baggery of men these days. One of my pet peeves is when a man is in the outside seat and the inside seat is empty and when I say excuse me and motion towards the free seat, insted of getting up so I can sit easily they just barely swing their legs to the side. Most times I say: really? REALLY? And guilt them into getting up. Most men in SF = selfish, unhelpful pricks.

Rachel said...

In general, I'd say kids who are old enough to stand can stand - but when the bus is really crowded I do worry sometimes worry they're going to get crushed in the crowd.
I did experience a very crowded 38L once, with these super obnoxious kids who kept whining for seats... NO ONE gave up seats for them.

Little ones can share seats - I am surprised the mom of the kids in your photo didn't have them scoot in so she could join them.

As for pregnant, elderly or disabled? Hell yeah, you get my seat

Unknown said...

It never dawned on me to give up my seat to little kids, but I can see Rachel's point about them getting stepped on or squished in a crowded bus or train.

But here's a different public transport scenario: on BART a few months ago, the train was packed and a pregnant lady got on. No one in the handicapped seats seemed to notice her and she didn't say anything, but another rider noticed and asked someone who was sitting down if they would mind giving up their seat for her. Sitting Lady did, but then bitched out Standing Up Buttinsky Lady for getting involved, basically saying "I am happy to give up my seat, but it's not your place to get involved because this is not kindergarten and you are not my teacher." Perhaps complicating the dynamic somewhat (or maybe not) is that Standing Up Buttinsky Lady was a white, middle-aged Berkeley type and Sitting Lady was a young black woman. I can see both of their perspectives here -- so, what should one do when you notice someone who probably needs a seat but they aren't asking for one and none of the seated people seem to notice?

Tamagosan said...

Obvs. able-bodied kids should stand, any reasonable ambiguity should be handled by erring on the side of too polite, and as long as my dog has a seat, I'm happy. I KID. But how far off is it, SF?

Anyway, GTG since I'm now working on the storyboard for "TRANSIT FUCKS II: TAKE OFF YOUR FUCKING BACKPACK, in theaters this summer." I've got about 16 hours of material so far from 20+ years of taking MYOONIE.

Hey Unknown: I've seen people pretent to be asleep or texting too heavily to notice the need to stand up. Sneaky arseholes.

Tamagosan said...

PS Pregnant women get seats and foot massage offers.

Unknown said...

“I’m sorry, you can’t have a seat on a packed train because I’m busy doing yoga.”

Alissa said...

Everyone knows who you're supposed to give your seat up for on the bus, and by and large I think we all agree on these rules - thats not the problem. The problem is that people are so tuned the fuck out on the bus that they're rarely registering what is going on around them. If you look around the bus, everyone is plugged into their phone/tablet/reading material, very often with earbuds in. I feel like probably a lot of time a seat is not offered when it should be its not because someone's being a prick, but maybe because they didnt notice that anyone needed one.

I don't know why I picked this random time to strive to see the good in people (especially transit riders), but there ya go.

Andrea said...

Timely post.
I didn't give my seat up to a 60-ish looking woman yesterday. She wasn't holding on to a pole or the wrist strap and she was reading her nook. She didn't wobble or look in distress. Someone yelled at me for not getting up. I would have gotten up for someone who needed it. But this lady was super fit.
Like the Previous Poster Lisa said, it's all about the inside seat. I ride from the L from Embarcadero to Ocean Beach. I throw elbows for the inside seat.
Having ridden Muni through three pregnancies, I always get up for the preggies. You're not just helping her out because she's tired from carrying a medicine ball in her belly. If she falls she can hurt not only herself but also the baby.

Kids though. If they're tall enough to hold on, they can stand.

ghastly serpent said...

I give up my seat if someone asks. If you have balls enough to ask, I'm happy to give it up.

I will not, however, give up my seat to people who glare, sigh loudly or passive aggressively tell the person they're with that they wish someone would notice they want to sit down.

Vatina said...

Here's a pro-giving up seats for (little) kids comment: Yes, the little kids pictured are old enough to stand on their own BUT they are usually not tall enough to do it safely. Especially with a jerky ride, especially, as someone pointed out, on a crowded car/bus. Frankly, I don't know about everyone else's kids but my kids are not so fast to move out of the way or understand that they need to move to the back and they end up being a hindrance. Finally, little kids like to stand. I've never heard one complain of being tired. I consider it a courtesy and safer to get them out of the way.