Let me tell you about my day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Metro Opens Doors

So, this post might be kind of weird and insensitive. I would be interested if anyone has any feedback on this situation, knowing that there is no way a confrontation would ever arise out of this. And now, on with the show!

There is a lady who lives in my neighborhood (presumably) and we frequently ride the bus together. She has difficulty walking (for reasons that are certainly none of my business) and uses a cane to get around. It is obviously labor-intensive for her to board the bus. We'll call her Maude.

The seats near the front of the bus, which face the aisle rather than the driver (got that?), are supposedly reserved for older people and people with disabilities (like Maude). If I am sitting in an aisle-facing seat and Maude gets on the bus, I will move to a front-facing seat or stand if necessary. I want these seats to be available to her. Not everyone does this. Maybe it's not as obvious to other people that she has difficulty climbing the three steps onto the bus? Maybe the signs stating the seats' reserved status aren't obvious to everyone else? Regardless, she often gets on the bus to find that that prime real estate is packed with able-bodied people.

OK. Here is where I state that anyone is completely within their rights at any time to ask someone to move their jacket/bag/feet(!) off of an otherwise available seat. Or to tell someone they're not feeling well, or that they get carsick, or that they're pregnant (bonus points for visibly pregnant), and ask for a seat to be vacated BY A PERSON SITTING THERE. Seriously. I was suffering from a sports injury* a while back, and asked a few people if they would mind giving up their seats because it was difficult for me to stand with the bus jostling so much. Everyone I asked complied.

Back to Maude. As stated, I vacate when I see her coming. I don't want her to have to shuffle down the aisle toward the back of the bus, dragging her obviously heavy ENORMOUS satchel behind her. I don't care if she's faking it--she is COMMITTED to using that cane. Now, on more than one occasion, where my now-vacant seat is calling out to her, she has asked someone else to move so she can sit down.

She is not nice about this. She is not subtle about it. She HUFFS and SIGHS and there might be some moaning involved. My question is, what's the deal? There's a seat about 24 inches away from the seat she wants. Is this her way of standing up for the rights of people with disabilities? Does she want everyone sitting in those choice seats to know that they're usurping what is rightfully hers? It's kind of a strange ritual and one that makes me feel strangely unsympathetic toward her. After all, we're all just trying to ride the bus from point A to point B. Can't we all just get along?

Feel free to tell me I'm being completely insensitive, that I don't understand the plight of people with disabilities, that I used the wrong term somewhere, etc. Also, if you think I am bashing our era's Rosa Parks, let me know and I will attempt to objectively review the situation.

Still related--because I know you can't get enough talk about public transportation--I put in for a parking place at my job a little while ago. The drive to and from my office is really no big deal, and it's kind of nice to have my own private igloo of misanthropy to hide out in. Of course, I have to wait for someone to retire or die to get a parking place, but I put a reminder in my calendar for one year from the request date, and it's coming close! Now I'm a little sad. My commute costs are currently nothing. And I've come to (finally!) accept the realities of using public transportation. And the benefits of it--time to read, stare out the window, Maude-anthropology. I guess I could just turn the parking place down if they give it to me, but I don't love riding the bus that much.

*I fell down the stairs at a restaurant.

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