Author Topic: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?  (Read 10205 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #45 on: January 22, 2013, 07:47:31 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.

May I respectfully suggest that you are underestimating your grandmother? She might have gotten discombobulated going underground--she might have gotten lost.

Would she have gotten home eventually? Would she have asked a friendly stranger or a transit employee for assistance?

I venture to suggest that if she was old enough and smart enough to end up someone's grandmother, she probably could have. She might have had an adventure and ended up out at the wrong end of the wrong line, but she'd have gotten where she needed to go.

Also, most transit situations are really very well marked. I bet your Grandma would have done fine. She would have had to read signs and ask directions, but she'd have been fine.

miranova

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #46 on: January 22, 2013, 07:57:21 PM »
It's an interesting topic.  On the one hand, I agree that a reasonably intelligent adult should be able to figure this out, even if there is some discomfort.  Certainly.

On the other hand, I think any reasonably intelligent adult should be able to file their own taxes, it's really quite simple especially since there are instructions for every single line of every possible form available online nowadays.  But a lot of people don't do it themselves and don't have any interest in learning. Why is it that certain things we are ok with never learning while others are "grow up and learn" territory?  The vast majority of people who think their taxes are too complicated to do themselves have probably never tried.  Because when I ask what makes them complicated they mention something completely common and simple to do if they just spent 2 minutes learning about it.  But they don't want to and that's fine.  But it's still a largely irrational fear.  (I am not an accountant and everything I learned about the topic is self taught).

I have no idea why my mind went there but I think it's because some people seem to be very judgemental on this thread about Mary needing to "grow up" when I imagine that there is at least something in every poster's life that they simply have never even tried to do for themselves because they fear it.  (if not taxes, something else).  Most people have an irrational fear about something.

I don't think OP has any obligation to alter her plans whatsoever, but I don't think she needs to be dismissive either.

Sez who, that it's acceptable?

I don't do my taxes myself, but it's not because I think they're "too complicated"--it's because it would take more of my energy than I want to devote. So I find a professional and I pay them.

If this lady didn't want to take the train herself, she can pay someone to ride with her, or she can take a cab. I wouldn't be saying, "Oh, grow up" (though I didn't mean it that harshly, and I thought I said so). I'd be saying, "it's too bad she handicaps herself that way, but whatever--it's her problem, and she's solving it."

I don't understand your first sentence at all, sorry.  No worries though, we agree that it's Mary's problem to solve and she can pay for a cab if learning how to take the train is more energy than she wants to devote. 

CookieChica

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #47 on: January 22, 2013, 08:49:09 PM »
I am curious OP... did Mary know she would be riding back herself when you two agreed to the plans? If that decision was made later, I still don't think you're rude but I would think that others are judging her pretty harshly. And I would think that if she didn't feel comfortable, she should be within her right to cancel.

LadyL

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #48 on: January 22, 2013, 08:58:28 PM »
Thanks everyone for confirming that I'm not nuts. Mary kept emphasizing that I am "so much more adventurous" than her when explaining her feelings, and it was making me feel like my expectations weren't realistic.

I was able to convince Mary that the train trip would be ok, and spent the whole trip there listening to her talk about her anxieties about travel. I also pointed out landmarks, signs, and other useful information on the trip there to try to increase her familiarity and comfort. I kept my tone supportive and understanding the whole time. On the way back, I stayed in the station with her until her train came to make sure she got on the right one. I was able to get a train out of the same station to go where I was headed (not the most efficient line but not a big detour either).

Mary confessed that she has a specific fear of getting lost on the subway and not being able to find an exit, and feeling like she is trapped underground. She even occasionally has dreams about it. Mary has several other fears as well that came up when we were discussing what she is and isn't ok with as for travel - she will not drive anywhere where she has to park out of view of the entrance unless it's somewhere she's very familiar with. This includes further back than the first 4-5 spots at the mall parking lot. She will not drive by herself after dark outside of very familiar areas. She will not take the above ground light rail because it goes through "bad areas." She talked about her fear of muggings, carjackings, and kidnapping. I didn't realize how much her mobility is impacted by her fears.

I didn't say much in reaction to all of this, mainly just listened. But now I have more questions - is there a polite way to tell Mary that her fears seem excessive and limiting? She said she has other friends who are even *more* fearful than her, as if she was trying to justify her views as being normal or reasonable. And more importantly, if Mary's fears come into play in the future, how should I handle it? For example, if a spot in view of the entrance isn't available during a busy time at the mall, and she wants to drive around until one opens up (which could mean wasting up to a half hour)?

gollymolly2

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #49 on: January 22, 2013, 09:07:29 PM »
No. Fear/phobias are irrational. Nothing good will come of you explaining that they are limiting - she is probably already well aware. And I don't think it's for you (or anyone else) to judge whether someone else's feelings are excessive.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #50 on: January 22, 2013, 09:09:32 PM »
I'm glad things worked out.

My response was going to be: was Mary catching the train late at night, and what is safety like on the trains in this city? I know that personally, in my home city, solo travellers catching late night trains have been harassed, mugged, bashed, and worse... There is no way that I'd ever let a female friend of mine catch a train by herself after say, 10pm in my home city. The risk of something bad happening is NOT extreme, and is very real.

That said, if the trains are safe in this city, and/or Mary isn't travelling late at night, I don't think you're being rude at all, making her catch it by herself.

As for your new question, if Mary's fears arise in the future, I guess all you can do is reassure her. Maybe baby steps is what's needed? Eg, maybe she'd be ok in parking in a spot that's 6 or 7 rows back from the entrance, and then gradually progress that to any spot, etc?

Violet Tulip

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #51 on: January 22, 2013, 09:20:53 PM »
She talked about her fear of muggings, carjackings, and kidnapping. I didn't realize how much her mobility is impacted by her fears.

I didn't say much in reaction to all of this, mainly just listened. But now I have more questions - is there a polite way to tell Mary that her fears seem excessive and limiting? She said she has other friends who are even *more* fearful than her, as if she was trying to justify her views as being normal or reasonable. And more importantly, if Mary's fears come into play in the future, how should I handle it? For example, if a spot in view of the entrance isn't available during a busy time at the mall, and she wants to drive around until one opens up (which could mean wasting up to a half hour)?

If you want to talk to her about her fears, I think you've hit on the angle to use. Her fears are limiting her. I'd imagine they're a significant limitation and probably require her to carefully plan to avoid them.

Have you talked to her since she travelled home by herself? First, I'd talk to her about how she made it fine, and you knew she would.  If she starts discounting her experience like making it home fine was a fluke, and she could have been mugged/kidnapped/abducted by aliens, shoot her down. *You* ride the train alone all the time, and 99% of all people who ride the train do so with no problems whatsoever. In this situation you're not adventurous, just normal. She was fine, just like everyone else.

After that, maybe just bring up what you said here - that you never realized how much her fears limit her. Does she think that she's more afraid than she should be? See what she says. If all she can do is justify her fears, she's probably not ready to deal with them yet, and you know to never plan a mall trip with her. If she does agree that she's too afraid, she might be at a good point for a qualified therapist to help her. Extreme fears can be overcome, but you have to be willing to go through a little discomfort to do it.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 09:23:33 PM by Violet Tulip »

CakeEater

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #52 on: January 22, 2013, 09:35:32 PM »
I guess in the mall situation, you could have her drop you off and keep circling until she finds a suitable car park. Although if she's with you in your car, that might not work. Does the carparking fear still exist if she's with someone?

I think I'd be working out ways to avoid travelling with her, or doing activities where things like this might come up.

snowdragon

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #53 on: January 22, 2013, 09:49:54 PM »



I didn't say much in reaction to all of this, mainly just listened. But now I have more questions - is there a polite way to tell Mary that her fears seem excessive and limiting? She said she has other friends who are even *more* fearful than her, as if she was trying to justify her views as being normal or reasonable. And more importantly, if Mary's fears come into play in the future, how should I handle it? For example, if a spot in view of the entrance isn't available during a busy time at the mall, and she wants to drive around until one opens up (which could mean wasting up to a half hour)?

  I would not allow her fears to limit where I can park or how my time is spent.  She needs to either drive herself and meet you there or deal with where you choose to park.  Mary is far too fearful, and needs help, however a nonprofessional trying to deal/help someone through is not always the best solution. Live your life as you want, let Mary live in her prison.  She'll deal when it impacts her hard enough.

blarg314

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #54 on: January 22, 2013, 10:10:07 PM »
This is Mary's issue to handle. 

You're in an area where taking public transit is a normal part of life and would be considered a standard life skill - it's not like you're expecting someone to instantly go from a small isolated village in the Arctic to navigating the Tokyo transit system in one step. She's taken the train before on multiple occasions, just not by herself.   And re-arranging things so that you can escort her home involves a considerable inconvenience on your part. So it would be better to reschedule to a time when it's easier to do.

In the general sense - it's the prerogative of any person to decide that that they don't want to learn to do something - it makes them uncomfortable, or they aren't interested, or they find it too complicated, or it's not worth the effort to learn. But it's also their responsibility to figure out a way to handle their lack of knowledge or skill.

Take taxes - deciding that doing your taxes is too complicated or too much work is pretty normal. But if someone doesn't want to learn how to do it, they hire an expert to do it for them (or in some cases, they turn it over to their spouse). They don't go to random friends and demand that they do their tax return, or simply not file claiming it's too complicated. (And for that matter, if you have a complicated financial life or aren't very good at reading legal/financial documents doing your taxes yourself can be a big mistake).

Things change when there is an external reason why someone can't do something, but it still doesn't put the responsibility totally on other people to accommodate. So if Mary has a diagnosed anxiety disorder that means that she is fine on the train with an escort, but panics when she's alone, her friends are likely to be more accommodating. But in the situation described by the OP, it is still probably better to reschedule, because the OP is not available to do the accommodating.

I think some of the individual variation comes from temperament, and some from experience. If you have a life that doesn't tend push you out of your comfort zone - you have your job and your friends and your routines, and there is little upset or sudden changes - it can be easy to avoid learning new, scary things, and you can keep this up for years, which makes it even harder to push yourself into something new.

On the other hand, if your life pushes you into new situations, voluntarily or not, you have to adapt or you lose the ability to function. If you move to a job in a big city where parking and taxis are horribly expensive, then you learn to use public transit or you stay home and lose your job. One of the most striking examples of this is what happens when someone's spouse dies or divorces them after a long marriage.  Suddenly, the widow or widower is shoved into having to do things that their spouse always took care of - driving, doing taxes, arranging for home repairs, cooking, buying clothing, organizing a social life. And it's often a massive, painful adjustment, but something that has to be done.


Itza

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #55 on: January 23, 2013, 05:40:45 AM »
It's an interesting topic.  On the one hand, I agree that a reasonably intelligent adult should be able to figure this out, even if there is some discomfort.  Certainly.

On the other hand, I think any reasonably intelligent adult should be able to file their own taxes, it's really quite simple especially since there are instructions for every single line of every possible form available online nowadays.  But a lot of people don't do it themselves and don't have any interest in learning.  Why is it that certain things we are ok with never learning while others are "grow up and learn" territory?  The vast majority of people who think their taxes are too complicated to do themselves have probably never tried.  Because when I ask what makes them complicated they mention something completely common and simple to do if they just spent 2 minutes learning about it.  But they don't want to and that's fine.  But it's still a largely irrational fear.  (I am not an accountant and everything I learned about the topic is self taught).

I have no idea why my mind went there but I think it's because some people seem to be very judgemental on this thread about Mary needing to "grow up" when I imagine that there is at least something in every poster's life that they simply have never even tried to do for themselves because they fear it.  (if not taxes, something else).  Most people have an irrational fear about something.

I don't think OP has any obligation to alter her plans whatsoever, but I don't think she needs to be dismissive either.

Very good question and I completely agree.

Throughout this thread, my mind was swinging from one thing to another and every bit in between.

On the one hand, yes, adults are responsible for themselves in every part of their lives. Maryís travelled this trip many times with OP and travelling alone for 10 mintues, one stop, is something she should be more than capable of doing. Iíd be interested who purchases the tickets and looks at the timetables for these other trips to the city. My inkling is that Mary has no involvement in this process at all and that the burden falls to the OP.

On the other hand, there are adults who cannot do anything like this at all. Take my eldest son, for example. Heís physically disabled with severe learning difficulties. Thereís no way on this planet he could do any of these tasks himself. He needs an adult to care for him. Show him some coins and heíll say itís money but he has no real understanding what it is for and only guesses the amount of each coin. Sometimes heís right but mostly heís wrong. So, seeing Mary in light of my eldest son, Iím thinking she has no excuse.

For some reason this makes me think of the women my bff tells me about who come into the store she works in and say "Oh I don't know how to do this, my husband always took care of that and now he's gone so I have no idea how to do this!!"  This sort of thing drives my friend crazy because of the helpless attitude these people take rather than trying to figure it out for themselves, only cause it's just easier to get other people to do it for them and hold their hand.

Yes, this is the route I donít want to go down with my mother and she tries desperately to stay on that track! I try to derail her by not enabling her helplessness, encouraging her independence and empowering her. Iíve done everything I can think of to start her off: showing her what tools she needs for the task, where to get them, shown her how to do the task, guided her through said task while she does it, given her written instructions and stood back to let her get on with it and she STILL pretends she canít do it! How many times does a person have to show someone else what to do before they do it themselves? This is all an act on her part; she IS perfectly capable.

On the other hand, Mum used to dye her hair herself with the home dyes sheíd buy from the pharmacy, before she decided to embrace her greyness. If she still dyed her hair and one day she fell and broke her arm meaning she couldnít dye her hair herself, then fair dos, Iíd do it for her without any quibble because thereís a genuine and obvious reason she couldnít do it herself, like my sonís disability. Alternatively, many people go to the hairdressers to get their hair done. Weíve hired a decorator to paint and hang wallpaper in our home, especially the staircase is a beast to tackle! Weíve hired electricians, plumbers, roofers and window fitters...

Is it always a case of not wanting to learn? If so, where do we draw the line?




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TurtleDove

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #56 on: January 23, 2013, 06:54:12 AM »
As another poster pointed out, paying someone to do something you don't feel like doing yourself is not at all the same as simply deciding you don't want to do something but expecting your friends to do it for you.

bopper

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #57 on: January 23, 2013, 09:11:00 AM »
I think sometimes you have to push people a little so they can learn.  So if you have done the train trip with her and there is only one stop and no transfers, then it is reasonable for her to do this.

I did this to someone...we were living in Germany and i could drive the person to our mutual destination, but could not drive her back.
There is a bus that would take her back to town only one block away.  I told her what bus to take and there are no transfers needed and it would take her back near her house.   So although she was annoyed she had to do this, I thought it reasonable because it was not a complicated situation and this is something it would be very useful for her to learn to do as she and her DH only had one car.

bopper

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #58 on: January 23, 2013, 09:13:52 AM »
No. Fear/phobias are irrational. Nothing good will come of you explaining that they are limiting - she is probably already well aware. And I don't think it's for you (or anyone else) to judge whether someone else's feelings are excessive.

This is all true.  However, if your phobias are limiting your life it may be a good idea to talk to a therapist.  The OP can be sympathetic and helpful, but does not need to go way out of her way to enable if Mary isn't getting help in dealing with her issues.

SiotehCat

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Re: Rude to expect someone to take public transit alone?
« Reply #59 on: January 23, 2013, 09:23:14 AM »
As another poster pointed out, paying someone to do something you don't feel like doing yourself is not at all the same as simply deciding you don't want to do something but expecting your friends to do it for you.

I think this is true, but I still wonder if the OP had discussed the trip back before they started the trip.

Maybe OP's friend would normally have taken a cab, but she didn't budget for it because she didn't know she would need it? Or maybe she brought a limited amount of cash?

If I were the friend, I would be very irritated if I was given the impression that we would be riding back together and then OP sprung on me that we wouldn't.
Like OP's friend, I have several irrational "phobias". I live my life just fine and I have no plans to get over them. I just plan a little. If I had friends that changed plans on me midway, that might be a problem.