Monday, July 16, 2007

The Good Side of looking like a Barrel

You see, in our trains and buses of the public transportation system are certain seats that are reserved for the elderly, handicapped, or otherwise impaired people. Some are specifically marked as such, others are just by rule of common courtesy. That's not to say that "normal" people don't sit there, but it's considered good tone to get up and leave those seats to those who are more in need, if the train/bus is otherwise full.

That said, I usually don't sit down on any of these, because a) I don't like to get up for other people, and b) I would have to get up if somebody in need asked me. It just saves myself trouble or at least annoyance to just sit down on a "normal" seat in the first place.

Last week I started to sit my sister's dog while she went on vacation, so every morning saw me packed with my regular purse/basket on my right shoulder, now especially full with a doggy blanket and other doggy miscellanea, and a dog purse filled with the smallest dog in the world on my left side. I am not one to carry perfectly-capable-of-walking animals around in purses, however doing so saved me from buying a bus ticket for the dog, which otherwise I would have had to purchase.

So, packed as I was, I bluntly chose one of the "special" seats right behind the front entrance, mostly because it was also wider than a regular seat, and unloaded my bulky belongings. Now there is this elderly mentally challenged woman, who sometimes rides on the same bus with me, and who usually loudly and double-righteously demands the seat my ass was currently occupying from whoever happened to just sit there - and people usually comply without a word.

Who wants to argue with a mentally challenged loud obnoxious person in public over a seat in an otherwise empty bus, right?

Right. So I was ready to get up when she barked her demands at me. I am above snapping at a retarded woman and "fighting" for my spot, especially since the bus was indeed empty except for a very few people. And right as another lady sitting across from me watched me gathering up my bag and the dog to make way, she got up herself and started to snap at the challenged woman so loud that the whole bus could hear:

"Jeez, woman... take MY seat, why don't you! The whole bus is empty, why do you want that particular seat anyway?"

"I want to sit in FRONT!"

"BAH - sit in front! Sit down over here and leave the lady alone, can't you see that she's pregnant? She doesn't have to get up for you!"

That did the deed, the challenged lady eyed me, a bit intimidated from the scolding, and under the stern eyes of my defender she trotted over to the other seat behind the driver, without another word. Satisfied with herself, my rescuer nodded in my direction and chose another seat in the empty bus. I thanked her loudly, and spent the rest of my ride grinning to myself: so people see already! Strangers! Not just people who know, and know that I am not just putting on a few pounds!

What a milestone. :) Even more so as it happened again the next day, and one more time the day after: on the second occasion I was only taking the bus for a couple of stops and therefore politely declined the offer that - again - came from a friendly woman, and on the third occasion I was tapped on my shoulder from behind as I fought for balance with my bag and the dog in a grossly overfilled bus, and asked if I would like to sit down. This time I was very grateful for the offer and took it, even though an elderly lady tried to beat me to the seat offered to me, as soon as she saw it becoming free.

This courtesy from strangers is a whole new world to me, I even dare say that people rather get up for pregnant women than for the probably more deserving elderly - maybe because of some inherent protector's instinct? I know not, but I am enjoying this... and by now I sit down on the "special" seats by default, without worrying about taking up the seat of a more "deserving" person. My pregnancy is obvious enough for people to offer me their seats already! Leave me alone, or I'll sick the dog on you.


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