28th February 2017: Day 40 - After You...
Okay, so I’m going to talk about something I’m not very proud of.
I’m relatively young (well kind of) and able bodied. I do care about the plight of my fellow woman (and man) and I’m kind to children. But there is just one area that my behaviour can leave a lot to be desired.
Specifically getting a seat on public transport.
That, for, me is the primary objective when I get on a bus or train or tube, to get a seat. And I’m not proud of that. Don’t get me wrong I don’t push older people or pregnant women out of the way, I just don’t tend to register that there’s anyone else in the running. I become a woman on a mission and that mission is to get a seat.
It isn’t such a problem on the buses because I’ve created this belief in my head that I have a way of putting my hand out that makes the bus driver stop right in front of me whether I’ve been waiting for 15mins or I’ve just got to the bus stop. And when (s)he does – which is 9 times out of 10 - I just step right on, ahead of those that may have been waiting for hours. On the 1 in 10 occasion that the bus doesn’t stop in front of me and I end up at the back of the queue, I mentally curse the driver and spend my first 5 minutes composing a letter to Arriva or Abellio or Go-ahead, or whatever company governs that route, complaining about the competency of their drivers (in my head).
Once, I met my match. It was on the tube. The District Line to be specific. I got on the train and spied my seat. It was the only seat in the carriage and it was mine. In my haste, I dropped my gloves. I picked them up and just as I got to my seat this woman came from nowhere and slid in.
‘Excuse me?’ is what I said, ‘what do you think you’re doing?’
She looked up at me saying nothing.
‘I was going to sit there,’ said I.
She just stared and I noticed a glassiness in her eyes that couldn’t focus. She coughed and the smell of alcohol – some kind of spirit, I think, nearly knocked me over but I stood my ground.
We stared at each other for a few more seconds then I said
‘You’re drunk!’ with as much disgust as I could muster and turned my back, shunning her (as if she cared).
I tell you all of this as a backdrop, a context for today’s challenge which came about after a conversation with a couple of friends a month ago. I can’t remember how we got into it but one of them, a guy from America, told us about how he always stands back to allow others on the bus before him. I remember gasping as though he told us that he had just murdered someone, or that he had been to prison for embezzling thousands of pounds from his clients, it was that alien to me and I knew it would be one of my challenges in this project.
So I did it today. The bus arrived and I stepped back and allowed the other people to get on before me. I felt a little anxiety that I wouldn’t get the seat I wanted, but I figured I would get a seat. I got the seat I wanted. I was going to try it again on my journey home but had to run for the bus and everyone was on it before I got to the stop.
So I did it.
Maybe I’ll do it again ;-)