27 Jul 2006
On the subway
A good friend of mine has (re-)entered the blog-o-sphere with a blog named beauframe. He starts with a subway story. I recommend you read it first. His telling of his experience reminded me to blog a somewhat related subway (BART) experience I had recently.
I was on my way “home” (my sublet while I get a place for us to settle here), and had to switch trains which is usually the case when I leave work a little too late.
I got on the next train which was reasonably crowded with a few people standing by the doorways, most of the seats full, but a few of the doubles half-empty. The empty half guarded by backpacks, skateboards or body parts of travelers who would just rather you not sit next to them, thank you very much.
I’ve developed a bit of an unconscious (until now) approach to these situations that occurs in 3 stages. In stage 1, I wander adjacent in “I’m looking for a seat” mode, and see if anyone relents. If no one does, I pick a target and go to stage 2; I stand immediately adjacent and glare meaningfully at the seat they are blocking access to. Should that fail and I feel assertive, I go to stage 3 and push myself past them to sit down, muttering a sometimes sarcastic-sounding excuse me.
This evening, stage 1 had failed, and I’d picked a target to at least enter stage 2 with. Just as I begin stage 2, he stands up and points at his seat and says “Do not sit there.” At first I think he spilled something there, and is speaking with my best interest in mind. But then he gets inches from my face and says quite loudly (he’s wearing earbuds), “Do you hear me?!? Do NOT sit there!” I get a flood of emotional responses from amusement to bemusement, marinated in a healthy dose of anger. I get frowny/questiony-eyebrow and answer loudly that I can hear him. I refrain from simply punching him in the nose noticing both pleasure and disappointment at how easily that restraint comes.
Finally, his scheme becomes clear as he subsequently directs a young woman sitting adjacent to the “reserve this space for handicapped riders” space back to the seat he just vacated. Then he directs a large woman with a small child to the seat that the young woman just vacated. His grand plan successfully enacted, he proceeds to stand near the doors.
The young woman who takes her newly assigned seat slides over to the window so that I may, in fact, sit in the very seat I was told not to, and I do with no small amount of pleasure. I spend the rest of the ride glaring at the man I’ve now internally nicknamed “Bart Nazi.” He stands in the doorway (despite increasingly empty seats) for several more stops and finally sits again as an entire section of 4 seats becomes available.
I’ve been on the same car as Bart Nazi one more time since then. I spent a little while glaring at him, but then lost interest. Too much work.