If you follow me on Twitter, you know what happened to me this morning, and how my faith in humanity was crushed then restored within about a six minute span. I want to give a little more perspective on it, pat myself on the back for standing up because it’s something I’m trying to do more of in the new year, and maybe give you the inspiration to either stand up and say something or thank someone who does today. Both go a super long way in fixing a lot of broken stuff in this world.
The buses in Boston, and I’m guessing in most cities, have a sign above the seats in the front that ask riders to please make sure those seats first go to people who are elderly or who have trouble standing.
After discovering during my 20s that I’m actually a Southern girl at heart, it makes me sad to see instructions on how to be polite pasted to a window, and even sadder when they are ignored. This morning the bus pulled over and lowered to assist a woman who clearly wasn’t able to take a large step to get on. As she shuffled carefully into the door, a teenage boy shoved past her and grabbed the first seat on the bus. She steadied herself as the bus pulled away from the stop, unable to get to the seat on his other side while the bus was moving, so the boy’s younger companion swiftly took that seat. They both stared at her, then looked away.
“Teenagers are jerks,” you’ll tell me, and with a few exceptions I’ll agree. Now add in to this scenario that the seats across the aisle featuring the same politeness instructions were filled with grownups. Three grownups in work clothes.
I was seated two rows back, aghast. I was so angry! Normally my reaction to something like this would be to sit and stew angrily, letting my frustration with a few people boil over into being overwhelmed by the general stink of crappy people and hating everyone. I’m trying to do less of that this year, though, so I thought about confronting the people around her and asking them to stand. I didn’t have a lot of faith that an approach like that would work, since they had no shame in sitting comfortably while an old woman clung to a pole for dear life in front of a bus full of people. So instead I got up and asked the woman if she wanted help to my seat or another nearby seat while the bus was moving. She headed carefully toward the next available seat muttering that she just wanted to sit down and no one would let her sit down. My anger got the best of me and I said, “Well they’re just lazy and stupid and what can you do?” and sat back down.
In hindsight, I should try to bite my tongue when I want to throw out snarky comments to total strangers. It’s gotten me into trouble in the past. I’ve had people yell at me, approach me with chest puffed out (men and women), or one woman who, after I made a comment a little too loudly following the third time I asked her to please mind that the huge purse she was carrying was walloping me in the head, got right up in my face and started screaming about what a bitch I was. Literally screaming. (Other passengers nearby averted their eyes, by the by. Thanks, y’all.) Luckily nothing bad happened today, but it’s an important note to make.
What did happen was that when I got off the bus there was a young woman who had already deboarded who approached me and said, “Hey, thanks for saying something. Those guys were jerks for not getting up.” I was completely blown away. I was honest with her about how I’ve been trying to do more of that, and she laughed and said, “I don’t think I would have been as nice if I’d said something.”
Together we stand! While the elderly sit.