HIDWtS: Sitting as a hostile act.

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Today’s installment of How I Decide Where to Sit is brought to you by bizarre passive-aggression.

So you kind of already know where I am going with this one. Picture a work shuttle, and picture it almost full as I waited in line to board, which made me wonder where all these people boarded and why I do not wait there instead. That is a mystery for another day! Today I was tired and sick of this cold that hangs on and I was hungry and I was not feeling my best. Even so, I was not willing to be a line-smoosher, which most of the people at my shuttle stop are.

Line-smooshers, instead of waiting in a single-file line, smoosh up by the door, creating a globule that then shoves itself into the shuttle in an extremely inelegant way. I really don’t like this. I am a single-file line person. I like the fairness of waiting one’s turn, and also the rule of who showed up first gets to board first.

I realize that I am not living in the right place for this sort of orderliness. San Francisco is a haven for anti-manners because somewhere along the line “counterculture” got associated with “rude” and they’re all peanut butter and chocolate now.

One person at my shuttle stop is consistently polite. If he is standing in front of someone, he always invites that person to board before him. Because I am a little crazy, I would accept this offer once and then decline it once, accept, then decline, hash marks in opposite columns, perfectly fair. Now I always decline and insist he goes first. Maybe he has earned some sort of line priority in my head. I hadn’t thought about it before writing it down just now. But I am all about rewarding good manners.

Anyway, today I was one of the last people to board, and it was quite full, so I took the first seat that was available. As I was walking toward this seat, I realized that the person next to it was glaring at me. I don’t get glared at often, so it was hard to miss. She was also spread out well into the empty seat, so when I indicated my intention to sit there, she sighed loudly and melodramatically as she rearranged herself and her things. It was so loud that I cracked a smile, thinking it was a joke. She didn’t seem to think it was funny.

At first, I thought maybe her glare was her normal “I’m annoyed I have to be up so early” face. I certainly have one of those. So maybe her annoyed face was only directed at me because she saw me headed for her seat, and was looking up at me to see if I was going to make her morning worse. But the sigh?

People like this genuinely baffle me. Sitting next to you is not a hostile act. It just means I want to sit down on this extremely bumpy and fast-moving bus so I can read or nap or listen to music in relative comfort. Just like you!

The rest of the ride was uneventful as I obsessed over my own facial expressions. And over not sighing melodramatically at people, because let’s face it, that shit is grade school.

HIDWtS Rating: Did I just write 500 words on shuttle seating?

5 thoughts on “HIDWtS: Sitting as a hostile act.

  1. Gary Walker

    I have had similar encounters on the DC Metro back when I was commuting into the city to work.  You get that man or woman who can’t be arsed to sit in one of the double seats on a crowded train, but has to spread out.  Personally, I have long been aware of the fact that this person regards choosing to sit in that second seat rather than stand as a hostile act.  That’s why I make a point of doing it.  Just as politeness deserves a reward, rudeness deserves a poke in the eye.  

    As a corollary, I am, as you know, a big guy.  When I’m seated on a train/bus that’s filling up, I make a point of pulling in my tendency to spread out so as not to make that second seat less useful.  

    The best possible version of this event is when you take the seat and then give it up to a pregnant woman or elderly person, thereby doubling the amount of swollen personal space transgression the territorial type in the other seat is forced to endure.

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  2. Alanna

    I encounter this all the time in Chicago as well.  It baffles me also.  Sometimes I give in to the glare and choose not to sit there.  Sometimes I sit out of spite.  Who are they to think they can have two seats to themselves on a crowded bus?  I’m loving this series, Cyg.  🙂

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    • I’m glad you’re enjoying it, but sad that this happens to you, too. Out of curiosity, what makes you give into the glare? Is it a particular gut feeling, or something else?

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