Strangers on a Train

Commuting is evil

The daily commute is one thing that drives even the most pleasant person to do exceptional (read bad and/or nasty) things. However whether you are in London, Paris, Edinburgh or New York, you are likely to have a commute of sorts.

There are various things in life that cost nothing. Manners are a key example. But something I have noticed over the past ten to fifteen years is that people have certainly got ruder. Now is this because of the death of society, because people feel more anonymous in big cities, immigration, the recession, Brexit or simply modernity?

Regardless of what has caused it, recently I’ve had the misfortunate to see two eight-months pregnant ladies attempt to catch the eye of someone on the tube in order to guilt them into giving up their seat. Miraculously appearing gravitational fields around these women seems to drive peoples’ eyes to either shut, to their book or the ground. London have you no shame? I felt disappointed as someone who for almost three decades has lived in and around our nation’s great capital.

But it doesn’t end there. In an attempt to help those with hidden disabilities, TFL in their wisdom have introduced a “please offer me a seat” badge. Now these badges are around 3 inches squared in area so when people are unable to see a large belly, broken leg or crutch I think this is optimistic. So what should we do?

Shame used to be a powerful motivator. But now in a society where one barely knows anyone apart from your own Instagram “friends” it is hard to believe that we will be able to shame people into giving up their seats for a worthy cause. But in the words of a greater man; the night is always darkest before the dawn.

Firstly, there are those Knights and Knightesses who give up their seats. I count myself as one, but often it is those you might not expect such as the scruffy “youth” who recalls we all have a mother, an older gentleman shaking his head at what the world has become or the tourist who is shocked that British reserve has been swapped for rudeness.

Secondly, attempts to assist these seat seekers are not always welcomed or recommended. You certainly don’t want to be accused of fat shaming, especially not on a Monday morning. Finally, remote working and greater ability to order groceries online should help relieve us of the burden of being a good person, at least where this small act of kindness is concerned.

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