Like many other people in the world, I commute to work everyday on mass transit. I walk to a subway station, take a train a few stops inbound and then ride a shuttle the rest of the way to work. I used to ride the subway to and from work only with a bit of a walking on both ends and I also commuted at one point by bus only. I actually like not having to drive my car everyday. I’ve always liked not having to buy gas as often and I guess that is a blessing right now with the prices climbing. Its a reason I like living in a major city. I grew up in CT where there is no such thing as mass transit (ok they try but its pretty much laughable) and I went to college in North Carolina where everyone drives everywhere. (One great example would be if you were shopping at a strip mall and you wanted to go to another store in that same strip mall a few stores down, North Carolinians get in their car and drive to a new parking spot closer to that store.) I would say I’m a commuting expert at this point. I’ve driven 2 hours each way back and forth to work everyday for months and I’ve had drives to work that were less than 5 minutes.
This morning I walked to the train station and boarded the next inbound train that pulled up as normal and I was fortunate to find a remaining empty seat to sit in. Normally, the train is rather full during the morning and evening rush and I spend the time standing. It feels like a small victory when you realize you can actually sit down. We get to the next station and a small girl (roughly 7 or 8 years old) gets on the train with an elderly man with a cane and a middle aged woman. Everyone just sits there and ignores them. When I realized that all the men in business suits and the teens on their way to BC High were not going to get up and offer a seat, I naturally stood up and offered my seat to the man. He thanked me and had his little girl sit down instead of himself. I feel like the only reason anyone else got up to offer the man with the cane a seat was because I did. This girl in a dress and heels got up and chose to stand so I look like a jerk, kind of thing. The other person who got up was another woman.
So I ask you, is chivalry dead? Forget chivalry, what about common courtesy? Is sitting on the train so damn important that you would let an elderly man with a cane risk standing and falling at some point during the commute? Are you that selfish? Everyone sits there quietly hoping for someone else to stand up so you don’t have to. I’m definitely guilty of it. I had times where when I stood up I felt like I would pass out from my high resting heart rate and yet I still stood up for pregnant women and people in crutches. It’s just the right thing to do.
One such example comes from a coworker who recently had her first baby. She commutes from the Metro West and walks quite a distance to get to an express bus that will take her into the city every day. As her pregnancy progressed and it became obvious she in fact was a pregnant woman, people still did not offer a seat. On the rare occassion that she was given a seat, guess who gave up the seat for her? elderly women. Yes thats right folks, elderly women were the only people thoughtful enough to give up a seat on the bus to and from Boston.
So what is going on? Why has our society become so self-involved that we can’t be slightly altruistic as to give up a seat to someone else less capable of standing? Its not like you are being asked to kill yourself for them, its just a seat on a train/bus/etc. Any ideas? I’m fresh out.
Anyways, happy Friday and happy start of Starbucks Happy Hour Day!! Its supposed to hit 70 degrees today 🙂