Author Topic: Using a spare seat on a train  (Read 7901 times)

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Victim Of Fate

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Using a spare seat on a train
« on: March 27, 2014, 10:26:07 AM »
Okay, so this happened at the weekend, and I'm not sure who was in the right here.

I was on a train from Paris to London. The Eurostar service doesn't stop anywhere else, so once the train has been boarded, there will be no further passengers. In my carriage, the seats were arranged so that there were three seats per "row", with one separated from the other two by the aisle. Seats alternate facing the front and back of the train, so that each seat has one opposite it, on the other side of a table. Not sure if I've described that accurately, so here's a rudimentary diagram:

[b  ][  ][  ]
[a  ][  ][  ]

[m  ][  ][  ]

This particular carriage, there were relatively few passengers - just enough for each passenger to have their own seat and the one opposite them. I am sat where the "m" is, and there are two passengers who sat at "a" and "b". There is room for luggage either at the end of the carriage for large cases, or on a shelf above the seats for hand luggage. Alternatively, as everyone had a second seat, people had space to put purses, small bags on the seat opposite.

The journey is around 2 hours, and I had a nap about a half hour in. I woke up about twenty minutes later, and noticed that passenger "a" had put her bag on the seat opposite me. She also had a carrier bag on the seat opposite her. I leaned over and asked her if that was her bag, and the following conversation took place:

"Oh, yes. Is it bothering you?"
"Um... well. Couldn't you put it somewhere else?"
"...I suppose..."

She then put the bag on the seat opposite her.

Now, was she rude for putting the bag on the seat opposite me? Technically, it was a spare seat, but there was a tacit convention that as there were only half as many passengers as seats each passenger also "owned" the seat opposite them. Was I rude? I wasn't using the seat, and was asleep for most of the journey, but it was just kind of bothering me that she'd put her bag there without asking me. I did also utilise the seat later when I went to get something from my own bag, which was on the shelf.

Another Sarah

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 10:32:47 AM »
I don't think you were rude, no.
But I also don't think you "owned" that seat, even in an unspoken way.
You were asleep, she already had something on the seat opposite her, so she used an empty space. I don't think it's especially polite to spread everything you own around a train carriage, but why on earth should she wake you up and ask you for permission?

Possum

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2014, 10:38:48 AM »
I'm slightly confused, but I think it's a terminology thing.  When you say "the seat opposite," to me, that's the seat facing.  I think you're meaning the one beside you, on the other side of the little table, right?  I hope so, because otherwise, I'm wondering why you're holding each other's bags! ;D

You do not own any seat but the one your bum is planted in, but I understand the social contract about having control over the seat beside you.  It may not have been a direct inconvenience to you to have the bag in the seat on your row, and maybe no one wanted to sit there, but it wasn't polite of her to take up two spare seats, period, and it's rather odd to just put your bag beside a stranger.  I would not want to feel responsible for a stranger's belongings--especially if she's got something bad in there, and someone finds out, or if she claims something has gone missing.

Victim Of Fate

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2014, 10:45:49 AM »
I'm slightly confused, but I think it's a terminology thing.  When you say "the seat opposite," to me, that's the seat facing.  I think you're meaning the one beside you, on the other side of the little table, right?  I hope so, because otherwise, I'm wondering why you're holding each other's bags! ;D

You do not own any seat but the one your bum is planted in, but I understand the social contract about having control over the seat beside you.  It may not have been a direct inconvenience to you to have the bag in the seat on your row, and maybe no one wanted to sit there, but it wasn't polite of her to take up two spare seats, period, and it's rather odd to just put your bag beside a stranger.  I would not want to feel responsible for a stranger's belongings--especially if she's got something bad in there, and someone finds out, or if she claims something has gone missing.

No, I mean the seat facing. So she put her bag on the seat facing me, while also having another bag (a small one) on the seat facing her. I know you don't technically have ownership of any seat but the one you're in, but at the same time, there was a clear convention on that carriage, as every passenger had a spare seat facing them, there were guaranteed to be no more passengers, and most passengers were using those seats for storage space. What annoyed me was that she had basically claimed ownership of that seat. I mean, if we're going to say that people have no ownership of any seat other than their own, surely passengers shouldn't be putting their bags on any spare seats?

auntmeegs

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 10:50:37 AM »
I am completely baffled as to why you cared that her bag was on the seat opposite you.  Can you clarify why this bothered you? 

jaxsue

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2014, 11:00:57 AM »
I'm slightly confused, but I think it's a terminology thing.  When you say "the seat opposite," to me, that's the seat facing.  I think you're meaning the one beside you, on the other side of the little table, right?  I hope so, because otherwise, I'm wondering why you're holding each other's bags! ;D

You do not own any seat but the one your bum is planted in, but I understand the social contract about having control over the seat beside you.  It may not have been a direct inconvenience to you to have the bag in the seat on your row, and maybe no one wanted to sit there, but it wasn't polite of her to take up two spare seats, period, and it's rather odd to just put your bag beside a stranger.  I would not want to feel responsible for a stranger's belongings--especially if she's got something bad in there, and someone finds out, or if she claims something has gone missing.

No, I mean the seat facing. So she put her bag on the seat facing me, while also having another bag (a small one) on the seat facing her. I know you don't technically have ownership of any seat but the one you're in, but at the same time, there was a clear convention on that carriage, as every passenger had a spare seat facing them, there were guaranteed to be no more passengers, and most passengers were using those seats for storage space. What annoyed me was that she had basically claimed ownership of that seat. I mean, if we're going to say that people have no ownership of any seat other than their own, surely passengers shouldn't be putting their bags on any spare seats?

I admit, I'm still a bit confused. I'm trying to picture the scenario. Were one of her bags on a seat in your row, or am I misunderstanding?

Honeypickle

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 11:03:26 AM »
I would only ever put my bag on a spare seat NEXT to me, never opposite me, and I have never seen anyone else do that either!

I would think you were completely deranged if you asked me to move my bag from a seat next to me. Quite seriously, I'd think there was something wrong with you.

So, yes I think you were rude. And you were rude for absolutely no reason at all.

(In fact I think this is a made up scenario).

Victim Of Fate

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 11:04:24 AM »
A few reasons:

Partly because I felt that it was generally rude to break what in my mind was a social contract that had definitely been established on the train: "As each of us passengers has a spare seat opposite us, let us agree that we each have two seats to ourselves."

Partly because it just felt slightly claustrophobic. We had paid the same amount, put passenger "a" now had the seat next to me, and had essentially spread out her stuff to cover the seat facing me and the seat diagonally opposite me.

Partly because although I wasn't using that seat, I could foresee a situation in which I may want to use it on that journey (and I did, using it to rest my travel case on while I retrieved my phone charger, for instance).[/li][/list]

But that last reason is more one of pragmatism, while the first two reasons are more why I felt she was a bit rude for doing so.

Victim Of Fate

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2014, 11:11:29 AM »
I would only ever put my bag on a spare seat NEXT to me, never opposite me, and I have never seen anyone else do that either!

I would think you were completely deranged if you asked me to move my bag from a seat next to me. Quite seriously, I'd think there was something wrong with you.

So, yes I think you were rude. And you were rude for absolutely no reason at all.

(In fact I think this is a made up scenario).

I don't understand why you would think it was made up?  ???

I don't think you've understood my explanation of the situation, so let me try again. In this diagram, the brackets refer to seats, with "[" being one facing the front of the train, and "]" being one facing the back of the train.

[B     bag]
[A     bag]
AISLE
[Me  empty]

As people typically like to stretch their legs on a long train journey, everyone had selected seats with spare seats facing them, lest their legs crossover with someone else facing them. Many people were also using the seat facing them to store their bags. Passenger A then reached across the aisle and put a second bag on the seat opposite me.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 11:13:19 AM by Victim Of Fate »

NyaChan

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2014, 11:15:44 AM »
I think I have the set up in my head now - OP using the words opposite and then facing is kind of confusing posters I think. 

Seats are grouped in sets of four.  Two on one side, two on the other - they all face each other.  OP is sitting with A sitting to her right.  They are in the same "row." The other two seats have no passengers and are in the same "row".  Passenger A then puts a bag in each seat.

OP----A
Bag--Bag

Personally, I wouldn't have asked her to move it unless I actually needed the seat.  Yeah the others limited themselves to one seat, but it wasn't like you were actively using yours.  Why shouldn't she use it when there was no indication that you needed it?  You had no true right to that seat.  If you then needed it, you could have asked her to move it at that point, but asking just because you felt (wrongly in my opinion) that the seat should have been for your use wasn't okay.


ETA - Ok OP edited her post after this so apparently I have the set up wrong.  Nevermind...

Honeypickle

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2014, 11:20:49 AM »
Victimoffate - apologies, I did misunderstand your post and thought you had asked the lady diagonally opposite you to move her bag that was next to her (and directly opposite you).

I could not imagine for the life of me why anyone would do that (not interrupting leg space, or infringing on your personal space at all, other than the fact you would have to LOOK at her bag), which is why I found your post unbelievable.

However, I still think asking her to move her bag was unnecessary unless you did want to use that space yourself to store your own bag. Since you only potentially may have used it for a phone charger, I think you created a rather unpleasant atmosphere for the duration of the train journey. Why not next time only ask her to move when you definitely want to use the space yourself?


mspallaton

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2014, 11:22:39 AM »
With the clarification here's what I see:

- Person A is weird, but not rude - you were asleep and not using the seat so you had no claim to it
- You were rude for asking before you needed the seat
- You would not have been rude if you waited to ask until such time as you needed the seat yourself

It is one thing to need space and for there to be a reasonable sharing of space, but it is another thing to simply not like that someone is using an area you might, at some point, feel like using.

Trains are claustrophobic, by their nature.  You feeling cramped because her bag is in a seat you're not actively using is not a reason to tell her to move it.

Victim Of Fate

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2014, 11:23:39 AM »
I think I have the set up in my head now - OP using the words opposite and then facing is kind of confusing posters I think. 

Seats are grouped in sets of four.  Two on one side, two on the other - they all face each other.  OP is sitting with A sitting to her right.  They are in the same "row." The other two seats have no passengers and are in the same "row".  Passenger A then puts a bag in each seat.

OP----A
Bag--Bag

Personally, I wouldn't have asked her to move it unless I actually needed the seat.  Yeah the others limited themselves to one seat, but it wasn't like you were actively using yours.  Why shouldn't she use it when there was no indication that you needed it?  You had no true right to that seat.  If you then needed it, you could have asked her to move it at that point, but asking just because you felt (wrongly in my opinion) that the seat should have been for your use wasn't okay.


ETA - Ok OP edited her post after this so apparently I have the set up wrong.  Nevermind...

So I think people are getting confused by my use of square brackets to represent the seats, but I think you have the basic setup right (I edited my post to remove the apparently misleading term "opposite", by which I meant "facing".). In my diagrams, the train is travelling left to right, not up to down.

The basic point though, is whether it is rude to put your stuff on a spare seat that is clearly more in someone else's personal space (whether because it's adjacent to them or facing them), regardless of whether they're using that seat or not. By putting her bag in that seat, was she not also preventing me from using it at any point in the journey?

SingActDance

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2014, 11:28:26 AM »
I think I have the set up in my head now - OP using the words opposite and then facing is kind of confusing posters I think. 

Seats are grouped in sets of four.  Two on one side, two on the other - they all face each other.  OP is sitting with A sitting to her right.  They are in the same "row." The other two seats have no passengers and are in the same "row".  Passenger A then puts a bag in each seat.

OP----A
Bag--Bag

Personally, I wouldn't have asked her to move it unless I actually needed the seat.  Yeah the others limited themselves to one seat, but it wasn't like you were actively using yours.  Why shouldn't she use it when there was no indication that you needed it?  You had no true right to that seat.  If you then needed it, you could have asked her to move it at that point, but asking just because you felt (wrongly in my opinion) that the seat should have been for your use wasn't okay.


ETA - Ok OP edited her post after this so apparently I have the set up wrong.  Nevermind...

So I think people are getting confused by my use of square brackets to represent the seats, but I think you have the basic setup right (I edited my post to remove the apparently misleading term "opposite", by which I meant "facing".). In my diagrams, the train is travelling left to right, not up to down.

The basic point though, is whether it is rude to put your stuff on a spare seat that is clearly more in someone else's personal space (whether because it's adjacent to them or facing them), regardless of whether they're using that seat or not. By putting her bag in that seat, was she not also preventing me from using it at any point in the journey?

Didn't you say the seats facing each other are separated by a table? To me, that would not qualify as "personal space." She was not preventing you from using it. When you needed the seat, you simply could have asked her to move her bag.
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rose red

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Re: Using a spare seat on a train
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2014, 11:29:54 AM »
I don't think the other person did anything wrong.