Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rude Commuters

Lynn Truss, author of "East, Shoots & Leaves,” a book on grammar, wrote a new book on manners, or rather the lack thereof, called, “Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door.” I’m not sure if I should buy the book, I live it everyday.

I frequently take NJ Transit to Penn Station New York from Northern NJ. There are many things to complain about in just trying to get form point A to point B and back, over which I can exert no control whatsoever. One of those is the manners, or rather the lack thereof, of my fellow passengers. Case in point: just this morning, I found an empty seat after changing trains at Secaucus Junction, which is a 50-50 bet. The problem was this was an aisle seat of a two-seater, and there was a young woman who was sleeping with her feet on the empty seat! I came right upon her and said, “Excuse me!” She groggily and grudgingly moved her feet so I could sit down.

The nerve of me wanting to sit in an empty seat where her feet were comfortably resting? Just because I bought a $68 weekly ticket, what makes me think I’ve got the right?

After sitting, I look to my right to notice that there is a woman sitting in the aisle seat of a triple-seater, with the middle and window vacant. Had I seen her first I might have sat there, which would have required me to say , “Excuse me!” where upon she could give me the requisite dirty look before standing up to let me sit inside, because of course she wants the aisle so she can run off the train at Penn Station and make it to her office 30 seconds faster. I also noticed that right behind her was a triple seat that was full. Why was that? Because people are afraid to assert themselves and their right to an empty seat.

Just so you won’t think this a socio-economic issue, let me assure you that this train proceeds through mostly affluent neighborhoods. And yet, just yesterday, a man in business casual dress, sitting next to me, just drops his newspaper on the floor when he’s finished with it. If I had a nickel for every time this year I saw a man in business casual dress, sitting next to me, just drop his newspaper on the floor when he’s finished with it, I’d have at least fifty cents to my name.

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