Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When Etiquette Rules Conflict

Living in NYC, I am the privileged (rolls eyes) to be subjected to mass transportation daily. Most of the time I take the bus (which stops a few blocks from my house) right to Columbia University. The trip is not too bad ranging from 25 minutes to over an hour sometimes. The adjustment to mass transportation hasn't been an easy one. Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan didn't provide me with any opportunities to learn the rules and etiquette of mass transportation. It was when I moved to NY that I quickly learned that there is a pattern to things. But my question is, "What happens when that pattern is interrupted?"

The stated rules of NYC Bus transportation:
(1) no spitting
(2) no radio playing
(3) no talking to the driver while he/she is driving
(4) no explosives
(5) marked seats are meant for handicapped persons. If you are sitting in a marked seat and a person who is handicapped enters the bus, you must (by law) move and give them the seat.

The unmarked rules of NYC Bus transportation (This is more etiquette side)
(1) move to the back of the bus if the front is crowded
(2) give the elderly your seat
(3) don't talk loud on your cell
(4) do not look at or talk to crazy people
(5) put bags on laps or under seat
(6) give pregnant women your seat
(7) give parents with small children your seat - help them with stroller if needed
(8) give heavy people your seat

Ok so with that stated, I ran into a moral dilemma yesterday on my trip home. The bus was packed from front to rear and everyone was crammed in like sardines. We arrived at a stop with three people waiting to board (1) a heavy set 40 something year old woman (2) a woman carrying a 9 month old (ish) child and stroller (3) a teenage boy.

As the three enter the bus, a man quickly jumps out of his seat and motions to the mother with the baby to sit. Before the woman could put her stroller away, the heavy woman takes the man’s' seat which is marked for handicapped persons. When the man addressed the woman about taking the seat, she turns and tells him that she needs the seat because she can't stand for long periods of time so she is handicapped. A few moments later another person gets up and gives the mother a seat.

So all is right in the world, but it left we wondering... "Who really deserved the seat?" The pattern of bus etiquette was interrupted and the atmosphere was a little tense.

Do you think that the heavy lady was right in taking the seat? or do you think that the mother deserved it first?

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