Friday, March 6, 2020

SOL6: Subway Civility and Incivility

I’m 77, and probably beginning to look it. This evening the number 1 train was delayed—some problem I know nothing about. The sign for the next train said 12 minutes, and the second train was simply “Delay.” Fortunately, I had a bench seat and could wait comfortably.
            After several minutes, a train pulled into the station beeping loudly (this means it is not going to stop, but not everyone knows that) and continued through, without of course stopping. After several more minutes, another train came in. This one stopped, but so many people were already on the train and so many were waiting, and pushing to get on, that I decided to wait for the next one. Others appeared to agree with me.
            More minutes passed. Another train, this one totally empty, came through without stopping.
            Finally, a train came and stopped. About 10 people exited the door I was planning to enter, and as I got on, I saw two young women taking the closest seats. In fact, a largish group of young women were getting on at this door. Since it was clear I wasn’t going to get a seat, I tried to keep my back against the door as it closed, then opened as more people pushed on, closed, opened again, closed, opened, closed. (I was also trying not to touch the pole or any other surface, coronavirus, you know.)
            At this point, one of the young women noticed me trying to lean against the door, and motioned to her friend, one of the women who had taken a seat, to offer me hers. Did I want to sit? Damned right I did.
            Now this seat was one in from the end of the row. Sitting at the end of the row was a man reading his iPad. The car was very crowded. It was hard for me to get past the standees as well as past the legs of this man, who seemed oblivious to what was going on around in. I said, “Excuse me,” once or twice as I tried to get past him without stepping on his feet to get to the now vacated seat. Finally, I made it.
            I know that end of row seats are coveted. But if he had chosen to move over to the vacated seat, I wouldn’t have had to drag my bag over his iPad or push past so many people. If he had been a woman, would she have moved over to make it easier for me to sit? I will try to be more aware of these situations when I am near an empty seat on the subway myself, and be a more civil rider. And huge thank you to the young women who noticed me and gave up her seat. 
I’m participating in the 13th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 6 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!


  1. That subway maneuvering can be so maddening. I always wonder if people really don't notice or just act as if they don't notice. Some of both, I guess.

    1. I'm afraid I may have been like that guy myself, so busy reading my book. But I will be more aware now.