Two weeks ago, I talked about standing in the aisle area. Last week, I talked about the area around the doors. Today I will continue my series of posts on rush hour etiquette by discussing seats, and in particular, the rules relating to interactions between people who are seated and people who are standing. I will have another shorter post about the rules between people seated next to eachother.
The most coveted spots on the subway are the door spots (where you get to lean against the doors; preferably the off-door, meaning the door that does not open to the platform) and, of course, the holy grail of rush hour: seats.
Let's stop right here so I can say what pisses me off the most on the subway. More than any other single thing.
[Tip #1: If you are lucky enough to get a seat during rush hour, do not try to look put out or inconvenienced if the people standing around you are closer to you than you would like.]
Ok, got that out of the way. Now, on to seat etiquette in general. The rules regarding seats are much more straightforward than the rules regarding standing/moving about the car. The rules can be broken in to 2 categories: subway cars in which there are individual seats for people to sit (like the 1, 3, and 7 trains, the A train, etc) and subway cars in which there is bench seating (new 2 trains, new 5 trains, new 6 trains).
Rules are very easy for the cars with individual seats. [Tip #2: During rush hour, take up one seat.]
Rules for the cars with bench seating are much more complex... [Tip #3: During rush hour, take up the equivalent of one seat.]
See? What'd I tell you? Much more complex.
Right now, I hope you're saying to yourself "I get that he's joking" or "That doesn't seem much more complex, what gives?"
It is in no way more complex. It is unbelievably easy. Unfortunately, it is completely unheeded, intentionally.
I get on the 6 train every day to go home from work. [Side note: I hate the fucking 6 train passionately.] The newer cars, with the bench seats, have their seating arrayed in such a way that there are either 3 or 4 seats, then a vertical bar for the people standing in the middle of the aisle area, and then either 4 or 3 seats. Always 7 seats total. The problems on these cars, and I see it every single day, arises on the side with 4 seats. What happens is one person will set against the side railing. One person will sit by the vertical bar in the aisle. And one person will seat between them and put their legs as wide as possible so as to deter anyone else from trying to sit next to them.
On the old trains, that person would be sitting on the divider between two seats, and wouldn't be there for long, because that's not very comfortable. But on the new trains, these savages run rampant taking up one and a half to two seats. Don't fucking do that during rush hour when there are 50 people standing cramped around you and you're taking two seats. Don't be that person. Because that person is a fucking douchebag. And taking up multiple seats while there are tons of tired people standing around you is fucked. There is no extra rule here, though. It's simple. Always take up one seat. You might add a corollary that during rush hour, not only should you not take more than one seat, but you should not make the seats around you unwelcoming to others. But that is not a rule. It is not required.
Here's something that is required. At least for a segment of the population. [Tip #4: If a very clearly pregnant woman gets on to your subway car, and you are male and between the ages of 11 and 60, you get the fuck up and offer her your seat. If you are female between those same ages, and not pregnant, you are encouraged to, but are not required to, give up your seat.] Essentially, and this goes beyond pregnant women, [Tip #5: If you are not particularly tired, and you see someone who clearly needs to be sitting down, give up your seat. This is never required, but it is a nice thing to do and the right thing to do.] Examples for Tip #5 might include an elderly man or woman who is having difficulty keeping his or her balance while standing; a young child; a person who is carrying an inordinately large number of bags and appears to be struggling. Any of these people would love to have a seat, so if you really don't need it, offer it up.
[Tip #6: DO NOT PUT YOUR BAG OR BAGS ON THE SEAT(S) NEXT TO YOU.] There are more rules related to bags that I will get in to next week.
I'm standing on the train, surrounded by tired-looking people, and a businessman, maybe in his 50's, has his 10" wide briefcase sitting next to him, against the side railing by the doors. Then he has his legs pushed out towards the middle vertical bar. The end result is that this man and his huge, box-like briefcase are taking up 2 seats. I'm standing in front of this man, completely astounded. Everyone else on the car looks miserable standing. Finally, I pipe up "Excuse me sir, maybe if you moved your bag and slid over, other people might be able to sit down?" He responded, "Oh, oh, I'm terribly sorry, of course, absolutely." He picked up his briefcase, put it on his lap, and moved over. I offered the seat to several of the women around me who all declined, and eventually took it for myself.
The man, fortunately, was not a total douchebag. There are people on the subway who know when they are violating the rules and feel bad about it. And there are people on the subway who don't give a shit about the rules so long as they are comfortable. This guy was the former. He knew that he had violated a rule, and as soon as he was called out on it, he was genuinely apologetic. He was not put out by having to move his bag or himself and seemed more embarrassed at having been caught than anything else. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
[Tip #7: Never hesitate to ask someone to move over if you want to sit down.]
Once again, your 7 subway etiquette tips are:
- [Tip #1: If you are lucky enough to get a seat during rush hour, do not try to look put out or inconvenienced if the people standing around you are closer to you than you would like.]
- [Tip #2: During rush hour, on trains with individual seats, take up ONLY one seat.]
- [Tip #3: During rush hour, on trains with bench seats, take up the equivalent of ONLY one seat.]
- [Tip #4: If a very clearly pregnant woman gets on to your subway car, and you are male and between the ages of 11 and 60, you get the fuck up and offer her your seat. If you are female between those same ages, and not pregnant, you are encouraged to, but not required to, give up your seat.]
- [Tip #5: If you are not particularly tired, and you see someone who clearly needs to be sitting down, give up your seat. This is never required, but it is a nice thing to do and the right thing to do.]
- [Tip #6: DO NOT PUT YOUR BAG OR BAGS ON THE SEAT(S) NEXT TO YOU.]
- [Tip #7: Never hesitate to ask someone to move over if you want to sit down.]
There are more tips to come. Sitting next to someone who's leaning on you a bit too much? Standing behind someone with a backpack? There are rules for everything and they will come in due time. Stay tuned for more tips next week and each week until I run out of shit to say or start recycling ideas. Oh, and move the fuck over so I can sit down, asswad.