Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: TurtleDove on November 06, 2012, 09:27:28 AM

Title: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TurtleDove on November 06, 2012, 09:27:28 AM
I haven't seen this addressed here before.  I generally take a bus about a mile into work to save parking costs.  The route is along a busy street that runs from Uptown to Downtown with a lot of stops and a lot of people who do the same thing I do.  This means that the portion of the route I am on is often standing room only for a portion of the trip. The bus starts to clear as we hit downtown a few stops after I get on and is generally emptying after my stop toward the other end of downtown.

Today, as is typical, the bus was full when I got on so I was standing in a packed standing room only bus.  Within a few stops, people were getting off in chunks.  Bafflingly, at least to me, there were quite a few seats left open as people who had been standing continued to stand.  Once I realized the people closest to the empty seats were not going to sit I said, "If no one is going to take those seats, I will," and moved toward the seat where I sat down.  After I did this, other people did the same. 

I got the sense some people thought I was borderline rude for not simply continuing to stand while there were empty seats.  I do not agree at all, especially because there was nothing rude in my speech or actions, and no one else was making any move to sit in the seats.  Thoughts?  If it matters, I appear quite fit, and am quite fit, but standing in heels on a moving bus with my purse is not comfortable for me because I also have relatively severe hip bursitis I am in physical therapy for.  It's far easier for me to run 8 miles than it is to stand for 15 minutes on a moving bus.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: MariaE on November 06, 2012, 09:37:34 AM
Not rude at all. Those closest didn't want them for whatever reason, that shouldn't stop anybody else.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Dorrie78 on November 06, 2012, 09:41:44 AM
I sometimes will continue to stand if I only have one or two more stops to go. You certainly weren't rude to sit down, if I were in the same situation, I might do the same. But I don't think it was really necessary to announce your intentions. If there are empty seats and no one is moving towards one, just sit down. People may have thought it was odd that you made the announcement before you sat down - almost like they were doing something wrong by *not* sitting down.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: WillyNilly on November 06, 2012, 09:42:04 AM
Once a seat opens its free for whomever can get their tush in it first.  Usually by default its the people nearest the seat, but someone from across the bus (or train) can certainly head over and say "excuse me' to those standing by it and sit.  There are stops on the NYC subway where if you pay attention you see a few stander's are scoping the train "who's body language indicates they are leaving next stop?" ready to pounce even from half a car away.  Meanwhile some people are settled into standing or whatever and have no issue with continuing to do so.

IMO if a bus or train is reasonably crowded its annoying for too many people to stand leaving empty seats, just because it wastes space.  If more people sat there would be more elbow room for those standing.  So not only do I think you were fine, I think you were more polite by sitting then continuing to stand if there were seats available and you wanted to sit.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: NyaChan on November 06, 2012, 09:42:16 AM
Not rude.    You broke the seal, so to speak, for sitting in those empty seats and I suspect that "sense" you got, was others who also wanted the seat but were uncomfortable taking them for the same reason that you were.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Yvaine on November 06, 2012, 09:50:36 AM
You weren't rude, and I also doubt they thought you were rude. NyaChan is right, you "broke the seal" and they no longer felt awkward about taking the seats.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TurtleDove on November 06, 2012, 09:51:17 AM
I sometimes will continue to stand if I only have one or two more stops to go. You certainly weren't rude to sit down, if I were in the same situation, I might do the same. But I don't think it was really necessary to announce your intentions. If there are empty seats and no one is moving towards one, just sit down. People may have thought it was odd that you made the announcement before you sat down - almost like they were doing something wrong by *not* sitting down.

I said something because there were no empty seats near me and I would have to pass several standing people to get to the open seats.  I could see 5 open seats within three feet of me, but there were people standing between me and the seats in the aisle.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TamJamB on November 06, 2012, 09:56:17 AM
You weren't remotely rude. Why did you think they thought you were?  I suspect you were misreading them.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TurtleDove on November 06, 2012, 09:58:04 AM
Not rude.    You broke the seal, so to speak, for sitting in those empty seats and I suspect that "sense" you got, was others who also wanted the seat but were uncomfortable taking them for the same reason that you were.

This makes sense.  I just wonder what would have happened had I not started the trend - there had to have been ten empty seats overall and NO ONE was moving to sit in them until I did!  I think some of the people who were standing and made no move to sit wished they would have sat.  We were already moving and they made no move though so I did.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: sourwolf on November 06, 2012, 09:58:58 AM
You weren't remotely rude. Why did you think they thought you were?  I suspect you were misreading them.

I agree.  I can't fathom why you think anyone would care if you took a seat when there were many that were unoccupied. I'm sure they were all to lost in the "on the way to work haze" to take any notice of you and what you were doing.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: amylouky on November 06, 2012, 10:00:47 AM
I think you were fine. I might have asked the person directly next to the seat I wanted if they planned to sit or minded if I did, rather than making a general announcement, but I don't think you were rude for doing so.
I can see why you felt strange, it does seem like the person closest to the open seat would have "dibs", but really imo they're fair game. Not that you should shove people out of the way to get to a seat but if no one is looking like they are going to sit in it when it opens up, I think it's up for grabs.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Yvaine on November 06, 2012, 10:01:33 AM
You weren't remotely rude. Why did you think they thought you were?  I suspect you were misreading them.

I agree.  I can't fathom why you think anyone would care if you took a seat when there were many that were unoccupied. I'm sure they were all so lost in the "on the way to work haze" to take any notice of you and what you were doing.

I'm going to agree with this too. The people who didn't sit probably just (a) preferred to stand anyway or (b) were in outer space. I zone out during my commute and I think a lot of other people do too. They stayed standing because they were already standing and weren't really monitoring the seat situation.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TurtleDove on November 06, 2012, 10:10:08 AM
It seemed as though the people closest to the seats were irritated that I asked them to move and let me through to the seats if they were not going to sit, and also some of them did sit down after I did.  It was like everyone thought it was polite to leave the seats open, which as other posters pointed out, I don't agree with.  It wasn't a general announcement exactly but more a statement of, "I am going to be moving down this crowded aisle to get to those seats right in front of you several people if you several people are not going to sit down.  After I sat, the other four empty seats in my general area were filled, and I am pretty sure two of them were filled by people who were closest to the seats to begin with. 

I just got the sense people thought I was being overly forward in leading the charge, as it were. I don't agree with that, and I wouldn't likely change my behavior unless there was some consensus I should have left the seats open.  But it seems that is not the case.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Yvaine on November 06, 2012, 10:12:58 AM
It seemed as though the people closest to the seats were irritated that I asked them to move and let me through to the seats if they were not going to sit

Eh, they may have just been annoyed at having to move, rather than giving a rat's behind about whether someone sat in the seats. But just because someone is annoyed doesn't make an action rude. Life is annoying. Public transport is inherently annoying, I think.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TootsNYC on November 06, 2012, 10:23:14 AM
I sometimes will continue to stand if I only have one or two more stops to go. You certainly weren't rude to sit down, if I were in the same situation, I might do the same. But I don't think it was really necessary to announce your intentions. If there are empty seats and no one is moving towards one, just sit down. People may have thought it was odd that you made the announcement before you sat down - almost like they were doing something wrong by *not* sitting down.

In my opinion, the people who get first dibs on the seats are the people who need them. Or who might benefit the most from them.

Of course, it's not really clear who qualifies for that. For me, sometimes the only thing that I know for *sure* is that *I* don't need the seat. So I don't take it.

(as for "benefit the most"--I think people who are getting off last will get the most benefit from them, as will those who are sort of tired, or have a minor hernia, or whatever. They know who they are, and I expect them to look out for themselves.)

And I hope that those people who either need them or will benefit from them will go ahead and sit down.

I think you were in the mildest group--those whose benefit from getting a seat is that they'd prefer to. And you waited as well, much the way I would. But once no one was indicating that their need was greater (they'd communicate this to you all by taking a seat, for heaven's sake, instead of waiting around), your actions were right on the money.

In fact, by mentioning that you were going to take the seat, you gave permission for everybody else to do so. Sort of like, I "serve the world" by being willing to go first in the buffet line if people are hesitant to start. What you did was be a leader, and other people sometimes disparage that. But that doesn't make it wrong.

And those people who were irritated--pah. Who cares? They were rude to express their irritation. If they didn't want to move, they could have slid over.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: magdalena on November 06, 2012, 10:31:16 AM
I'd think that free seats are free for all, barring special seats for disabled etc.

I can imagine people being a bit annoyed at having to move, but that doesn't make you rude at all, OP.

Have to add a disclaimer though: I hardly ever take the bus/a train (I have never been in a bus in our town and I've lived here for almmost 6 years), I always walk or ride my bike because I like to stay fit.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TootsNYC on November 06, 2012, 10:46:56 AM
Actually, there are times when I will take a seat that vacates near me simply BECAUSE it moves me OUT of the aisle, which means people don't have to maneuver past me to get out.

So in a way, if there's no one immediately near you who needs the seat, I think you *should* sit down, if only to get out of the walking space.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TootsNYC on November 06, 2012, 10:49:01 AM
I sometimes will continue to stand if I only have one or two more stops to go. You certainly weren't rude to sit down, if I were in the same situation, I might do the same. But I don't think it was really necessary to announce your intentions. If there are empty seats and no one is moving towards one, just sit down. People may have thought it was odd that you made the announcement before you sat down - almost like they were doing something wrong by *not* sitting down.

Eh, maybe, but I think the OP was absolutely right to say this--it gave someone closer to the seat a warning, and if they wanted to sit, they could have taken it.

I think the OP's announcement was perfectly fine. Also not necessarily needed--they had their chance.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Devix on November 06, 2012, 10:58:12 AM
You saw an empty seat, no one made a move towards it and so you took it.  I can't think of anything you did that could possibly be seen as rude.  It wasn't as if you pushed anyone out of the way and you did wait to see if someone closer wanted it instead.

I'm one of those people that will choose to stand even if there are plenty of open seats on the train/bus.  I know I'm going to be sitting down for the next few hours so I prefer to stand while I can.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Tea Drinker on November 06, 2012, 04:39:38 PM
POD TootsNYC: it's a positive good to make the aisles less crowded.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: LifeOnPluto on November 06, 2012, 08:22:24 PM
I also agree that you were absolutely not rude.

And I agree the people who looked annoyed probably did because they had to move (which still doesn't make you rude). Either that, or they were annoyed with themselves for not having the guts to be the first to "break the seal" and take an empty seat.   
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: thedudeabides on November 06, 2012, 08:50:10 PM
Or they may have been confused/startled by the announcement that you were taking a seat.  In general when I take public transportation, the only people making random announcements are the drivers and the crazy people.   :D
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Allyson on November 06, 2012, 09:29:37 PM
I see this a lot in the buses in my city. They aren't that big, so the aisles tend to get *really* crowded if people don't sit. Because of this, if nobody seems to be sitting down, I pretty much always do. Just makes things less crowded. I wonder if the 'nobody sits' thing happens because rather young able-bodied people are afraid of getting the side-eye from people for taking the seat themself rather than letting someone else have it. Sort of like how nobody will take the last cookie.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: JadeAngel on November 06, 2012, 10:42:38 PM
Actually, there are times when I will take a seat that vacates near me simply BECAUSE it moves me OUT of the aisle, which means people don't have to maneuver past me to get out.

So in a way, if there's no one immediately near you who needs the seat, I think you *should* sit down, if only to get out of the walking space.

Pod. If there was an elderly person, visibly disabled person, or visibly pregnant woman near me I would offer them the seat before taking one for myself, beyond that it's up for grabs. It clears the aisles for people who are trying to get on and off the bus.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TurtleDove on November 06, 2012, 11:24:50 PM
Or they may have been confused/startled by the announcement that you were taking a seat.  In general when I take public transportation, the only people making random announcements are the drivers and the crazy people.   :D

The announcement was not that I was taking a seat.  It was that I needed people in the aisles to either take the seat themselves or let me past them to take the seat.  The alternative would have been for me to silently push my way past people standing in the aisle.  It was in no way a random announcement, and it wasn't so loud that everyone would hear, just those who would have to move so I could sit.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Shopaholic on November 06, 2012, 11:37:22 PM
Actually, there are times when I will take a seat that vacates near me simply BECAUSE it moves me OUT of the aisle, which means people don't have to maneuver past me to get out.

So in a way, if there's no one immediately near you who needs the seat, I think you *should* sit down, if only to get out of the walking space.

Pod. If there was an elderly person, visibly disabled person, or visibly pregnant woman near me I would offer them the seat before taking one for myself, beyond that it's up for grabs. It clears the aisles for people who are trying to get on and off the bus.

This is what I do, too.
It's not rude to take a seat that nobody has made a move to sit in.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Dorrie78 on November 07, 2012, 07:06:44 AM
Or they may have been confused/startled by the announcement that you were taking a seat.  In general when I take public transportation, the only people making random announcements are the drivers and the crazy people.   :D

The announcement was not that I was taking a seat.  It was that I needed people in the aisles to either take the seat themselves or let me past them to take the seat.  The alternative would have been for me to silently push my way past people standing in the aisle.  It was in no way a random announcement, and it wasn't so loud that everyone would hear, just those who would have to move so I could sit.
To reiterate, I don't think you were rude in the slightest with your actions, but another alternative would have simply been to say "excuse me" as you walked past people to the empty seats. I do agree with thedudeabides. I tend to look a bit askance at people who make random announcements in a public location. I wonder why that person feels compelled to announce and/or explain their actions to everyone around them, especially when the person is doing something very normal like sitting down.

All I'm suggesting is that the people who were nearby and reacted oddly to your actions might not have viewed your actions as rude, but viewed your decision to tell them what your (entirely normal and polite) action was about to be and why you were doing it as strange.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: WillyNilly on November 07, 2012, 08:45:09 AM
^ Sometimes its just too many words  :D
I find the 'norm' is an "excuse me" while pointing or indicating towards the empty seat.  Sometimes its even just a nod towards the seat and eye contact.  I know for me when strangers start with full sentences to me on public transport, especially in the morning (I don't drink coffee until I get to work) I just glaze over.

But really its such a minor thing, and I wouldn't be annoyed at it.  I just don't respond well externally. You were fine.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: bopper on November 08, 2012, 12:29:50 PM
Also, how do you know they think you are rude? Because they are looking at you?  They also may be looking for the simple reason you are moving and people look at things that move.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: mbbored on November 08, 2012, 07:41:13 PM
Also, how do you know they think you are rude? Because they are looking at you?  They also may be looking for the simple reason you are moving and people look at things that move.

Good point! I also commute by bus and I doubt that my face is fixed into a pleasant expression. I'm often tired, thinking about my day, and trying to avoid eye contact with anybody around me for fear of accidentally encouraging somebody to start a conversation or rant.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: audrey1962 on November 09, 2012, 03:22:14 PM
You weren't rude, but since you seem concerned by the other riders reactions, perhaps next time say "excuse me" instead.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: Cat-Fu on November 09, 2012, 04:15:15 PM
Anyone talking to me during my morning commute who is not going to hand me coffee is totally rude. ;)

I agree with PPs, just saying "excuse me" is sufficient!
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: AuntyEm on November 10, 2012, 06:28:23 AM
As a previous poster replied, when the bus or subway is packed, I think it is ruder to continue standing next to an open seat if you are blocking the aisle.
Title: Re: Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats
Post by: TurtleDove on January 09, 2013, 10:46:05 AM
I thought I would update.  Based on the responses here, I have simply said "excuse me" and moved toward open seats and sat down.  Still, some people seem, I don't know, astonished that I would have the nerve to do that, even though others then followed suit, including the standing people who seem astonished that I say "excuse me" and move past them to a seat they previously made no move toward.  I think it really just comes down to personality.  I am not going to stand if I can sit on the bus, and I think some people need someone else to show them it's okay to sit in open seats.  Baffling to me! :)