Returning refreshed from mid-week break to frozen North, have public altercation on Piccadilly line tube train on first morning back on commute when get on train to find very annoyed young West Indian mother stuck precariously just inside doorway, surrounded by luggage and clutching toddler, complaining bitterly about lack of manners on tube train. No one prepared to give up seat, apparently. Words of music to my ears, swivel to follow young mother’s eye line like Dalek searching for Dr Who on abandoned space ship. Find other young woman, in first seat by door, two feet away from Mother with Child, oblivious to world as sporting giant pair of radio headphones and keeping eyes closed, whilst occupying priority seating for Mothers Carrying Children, Elderly People and some other category cannot now remember.

Eye swivel back to Young Mother Carrying Child. Eye swivel with meaning back to Seat Incumbent. With unaccustomed boldness, perhaps brought on by lack of cappuccino, suggest to Seat Incumbent she give up priority seating to Young Mother. Seat Incumbent eventually opens eyes, but appears to not understand English, though is English. Repeat suggestion, this time with added gestures towards Priority Seating Notice. Incumbent outraged, informs me that she is having a bad day and that always, always gives up seats to people in need – though obviously not on this particular day. Point out Priority Notice again – indicating picture of Mother Carrying Child.

Reminds me of recent article read about Charlie Chaplin’s direction of ‘The Gold Rush’ in which he insisted his leading lady say words in certain way although film silent. Attempt to improve silent film gestures, re-indicate Priority Seating Notice.

Incumbent, very titchy, so looks like angry pixie, stands up and squares up to me, informing me along lines of her never having been so insulted in entire life as to be to asked to give up Priority Seating to Priority Case and that am Very Ignorant. Entire carriage of commuters staring at Post-Traumatic Commuter with expressions as inscrutable as only London commuters can achieve, i.e. no one can understand if they agree or disagree with participants in argument. Angry pixie gives up seat and stomps off, advising me once more am Very Ignorant. Young Mother with Child continues standing. Train Dalek-like eye stalk on Young Mother. Young Mother, without saying thank you, places child in seat.

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3 Responses to Manners

  1. duncommutin says:

    Well done, posttraumaticcommuter. I find there’s a heartening number of people who do in fact behave considerately in these situations. Especially now I seem to have reached the age where people offer seats to me. I find this heartwarming, but a bit disorientating, as I never feel especially in need of it, and usually refuse. But I’m reminded of a boss I had once, getting on in years. When I travelled on the tube with him he seemed to be going to extraordinary lengths to avoid that priority seat. I subsequently found that this was not because he didn’t want to give up his seat, but rather so that no-one would ever think that he was the old person it had been offered to.

    • Thank you, duncommutin. Amusing story about your former boss, I hadn’t realised there was a sub-culture of those who
      were keen not to sit in the priority seats at any price! I did recently see an elderly man travelling with his wife on a packed commuter train, who, despite having a walking stick and a bandaged foot, refused to sit down when offered a seat..preferring to precariously hang on to a pole..

  2. duncommutin says:

    PS – thanks for liking my post…

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