Author Topic: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?  (Read 9964 times)

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LadyL

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Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« on: January 22, 2013, 01:44:29 PM »
Here's the situation:  I have plans with my friend Mary in a different, larger city than where we both live. Normally when I have plans with Mary it is somewhere we can drive to (either together in her car or separately) but due to the level of traffic and lack of parking in the city we are visiting, it makes much more sense to take public transportation. Mary and I have taken the train into the city together several times and all has been well. This time, I have other plans in the city after my plans with Mary, so we would be parting ways after our time together. Unbeknownst to me, Mary has never traveled on the train by herself. She confides that she is very nervous about doing so. I reassure her that it is literally a 10 minute train ride that goes one stop, the same route coming as going. She reiterates her nervousness and asks if she can join me in my later plans so we can come home on the train together. I told her that is not possible (there are various reasons but I only mention than it will be 3-4 hours of her time spent just waiting for me so we can take the train together). With a bit more reassurance she agrees to take the train back alone. Mary is not comfortable driving in or out of the city so that is not an alternative. My sense is that only way to make her truly happy would be for me to arrange to take the train back with her, which would require me to cancel my other plans.

After the conversation I felt really guilty because I didn't realize the arrangements would cause Mary to feel uncomfortable. Train travel is *extremely* common in this area and I had no way to know that Mary normally avoids taking public transport by herself for whatever reason.

Was it rude of me to not forsee this wrinkle in the planning, or to not further accommodate Mary's preferences? As far as I know she does not avoid public transit due to a phobia or anything - she is just on the nervous side usually and not a fan of leaving her comfort zone.

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2013, 01:48:38 PM »
You were not rude.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2013, 01:51:53 PM »
I think it's just an unfortunate situation that you can't really do anything about. It would be over-the-top to cancel your plans, or change them so Mary could join you in them (if it wasn't extremely easy and desirable to do so).

It's not a horrible thing that she's nervous taking the train alone, but I don't really think you can do anything to help her, except be supportive of her. If you wanted to, you could talk with her about why she's nervous--is she nervous about the other passengers, afraid she'll miss her stop, etc.? Maybe that will inspire you to make helpful suggestions. Could she pay for a taxi instead, or ask another friend to pick her up?

I think as long as you are sympathetic to her nervousness and not dismissive, you won't be rude to her. And as long as you don't tie yourself in knots changing plans to accommodate her, you won't be rude to yourself.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2013, 01:53:27 PM »
Time for Mary to "grow up." Well, that sounds harsh, but maybe "grow in this one area" is a better, more accurate phrase. She's got a "learning opportunity" here; don't worry about it.

Some people handle "learning opportunities" better than other people. But just be breezy. And if she brings it up again or tries to make her difficulties be your, then maybe stop being so reassuring and be a little dismissive.

EMuir

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2013, 01:53:44 PM »
Is there a cafe near the train station she could wait at for four hours for you?  That way you wouldn't have her hanging around, but she could go home with you if she feels strongly enough about it to wait that long.

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2013, 02:02:06 PM »
Is there a cafe near the train station she could wait at for four hours for you?  That way you wouldn't have her hanging around, but she could go home with you if she feels strongly enough about it to wait that long.

Oh, that would make me crabby. And it would make me not want to go anywhere at ALL with this person. I don't want to be somebody's babysitter, or their mommy.

Don't make me THAT responsible for you.

If it was a matter of waiting 45 minutes so I could go with you on a complicated return journey, I wouldn't get so annoyed.

But it's one stop back to where you got on? And you are SO afraid (so incompetent?) that you want to wait FOUR hours so I can "hold your hand" on that simple of a trip?

I don't have room in my life to take care of a friend to that degree.

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2013, 02:03:43 PM »
She asked, you answered politely. You weren't rude, regardless of her disappointment.
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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2013, 02:06:35 PM »
Time for Mary to "grow up." Well, that sounds harsh, but maybe "grow in this one area" is a better, more accurate phrase. She's got a "learning opportunity" here; don't worry about it.

Some people handle "learning opportunities" better than other people. But just be breezy. And if she brings it up again or tries to make her difficulties be your, then maybe stop being so reassuring and be a little dismissive.

I respectfully disagree.  Public transit really isn't perfect for everyone.  My Grandmother, for example, would have been very confused by the process and ended up lost.  She just got discombobulated going underground.   This may not be a growing opportunity, but a complete deal breaker.
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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2013, 02:08:58 PM »
you were not rude at all.


Is there a cafe near the train station she could wait at for four hours for you?  That way you wouldn't have her hanging around, but she could go home with you if she feels strongly enough about it to wait that long.
that's what i was thinking. I'm not saying that her fears are *your* responsibility - they aren't. but if she is *that* afraid to get on the train by herself, why not let her go back with you? if she is willing to wait four hours for you, why would that bother you?

She obviously has a deep rooted fear of getting on this train alone. And she is obviously a person that the OP wants to spend time with. I think we all have our share of fears and phobias and weirdnesses - you know, like the husbands who will.not.ask.for directions, or the people who hate eating out, etc. if possible , as a friend, you work around it.

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Judah

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 02:11:32 PM »
you were not rude at all.


Is there a cafe near the train station she could wait at for four hours for you?  That way you wouldn't have her hanging around, but she could go home with you if she feels strongly enough about it to wait that long.
that's what i was thinking. I'm not saying that her fears are *your* responsibility - they aren't. but if she is *that* afraid to get on the train by herself, why not let her go back with you? if she is willing to wait four hours for you, why would that bother you?

She obviously has a deep rooted fear of getting on this train alone. And she is obviously a person that the OP wants to spend time with. I think we all have our share of fears and phobias and weirdnesses - you know, like the husbands who will.not.ask.for directions, or the people who hate eating out, etc. if possible , as a friend, you work around it.

I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself knowing my friend was sitting somewhere waiting for me.  I would feel rushed and put upon. 

Mary needs to figure out her own transportation. Either she sucks it up and takes the train or she finds an alternative method of transportation, but it's not on LadyL to figure this out for her.
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Eden

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 02:13:19 PM »
you were not rude at all.


Is there a cafe near the train station she could wait at for four hours for you?  That way you wouldn't have her hanging around, but she could go home with you if she feels strongly enough about it to wait that long.
that's what i was thinking. I'm not saying that her fears are *your* responsibility - they aren't. but if she is *that* afraid to get on the train by herself, why not let her go back with you? if she is willing to wait four hours for you, why would that bother you?

It would bother me because I'd feel I had to keep a certain schedule. What if I wanted to extend my 4 hours to 5? I should be able to do that.

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2013, 02:22:05 PM »
If the return journey is exactly the same as the initial journey, except in reverse, I would take special pains to explain the trip to Mary on the way into the city.  And then for her return journey, I would probably see her to her train platform and onto her train, if it isn't too long a wait, and then continue on with my plans.

I would not be OK with Mary waiting for me in a cafe or something, especially if she had my cell number.  I would feel badly having someone wait for me like that and it would drive me nuts to start getting texts at the 3 hour mark.  (Are you done yet? for example.)

And if I was really enjoying my time with the second activity and felt like extending it, I would like to have the freedom to do that.
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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 02:26:28 PM »
you were not rude at all.


Is there a cafe near the train station she could wait at for four hours for you?  That way you wouldn't have her hanging around, but she could go home with you if she feels strongly enough about it to wait that long.
that's what i was thinking. I'm not saying that her fears are *your* responsibility - they aren't. but if she is *that* afraid to get on the train by herself, why not let her go back with you? if she is willing to wait four hours for you, why would that bother you?

It would bother me because I'd feel I had to keep a certain schedule. What if I wanted to extend my 4 hours to 5? I should be able to do that.

Agreed. I don't think that's a practical plan.
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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2013, 02:30:32 PM »
I expect anyone over the age of 12 or 14 or so to be able to take a train by themselves. I would especially expect it of someone who has ridden a train with someone previously.

But I would approach it with my friend from a point of "change can be intimidating or frightening.  This is a change from your norm, I get that. But you can do this, I promise, lets talk about your anxiety," because some people have really strong feelings about transportation (myself included). I would make sure to talk about it with her in advance, be very positive of my confidence in her, explain the map to her (some people really don't get maps well) and then on the train ride in, I'd make a point to take things slowly and to point out details to her (landmarks, where to look for signs, how to determine "next stop", on the train take a moment to pause and have her pay attention to how long the doors remain open for, etc) so when she's doing it on her own she's not trying to figure it, so much as follow the signs.  Because some people travel in a "follow" mindset - if her friend isn't there to lead, she has nothing to follow; if you point out the signs and how to read them, she can 'follow' them.

DottyG

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 02:37:55 PM »
Quote
I expect anyone over the age of 12 or 14 or so to be able to take a train by themselves.

I'm assuming you mean someone in a place where trains/subways are common.  Because I can remember the first time I was in a city that had one, and I sure didn't feel comfortable doing it alone.  And I was well over the age of 12 or 14.  Some people don't grow up with that experience and don't have the slightest clue what to do - even on what a resident feels is "so simple" a trip or one that seems to just be a mere Point A to Point B thing.*

Heck, I needed help just getting a ticket and then getting on the thing.  I wasn't familiar with any of the steps involved with it.

* I realize my comment may not apply to the OP's situation, as it could be that both she and Mary are in a place where Mary has encountered the trains before.  I'm just pointing out that the generic "everyone over X age should be able to do it" mentality isn't, necessarily, correct.