No, Thanks, I’ll Stand — Tales From Transit

12 May

Blog Post #33

My office is located in an industrial business park. I use public transit every day to commute to and from work. At the end of the day, the bus I take is standing room only before it is even half way to the skytrain station where the route ends.

Most of the riders on this route are warehouse or construction workers, wearing steel-toed boots and carrying heavy backpacks and/or gear. Grimy and tired, they slump in their seats, nodding off as the bus trundles along River Road.


One day, when the bus was full, a woman boarded and looking up and down the length of the vehicle, grabbed the nearest hand strap and held on. No one offered her a seat, until another woman gave up her place for her. Nice gesture, right? Well, no sooner had she stood up, the good Samaritan began to complain loudly about the lack of manners of the men on the bus, singling out one particular guy who was sitting on the front bench seat.

The woman’s ranting became louder and she was soon joined by another rider — a man— who gave up his seat to her. Soon, the pair’s complaints became a barrage of bullying comments that were intended to shame the guy who was still just sitting in his seat. To give him credit, he completely ignored the barbed insults hurled his way, instead of rising to the bait.

I was feeling quite uncomfortable with the entire exchange but it got me thinking about chivalry, equal rights and basic human kindness.

Of course, I don’t know what the woman’s feelings are about women’s rights, but I would hazard a guess that she would not be in favour of men getting paid more for the same job that she does. (That would be crazy, right?). But I wonder why, she, or,  anyone would think it was okay to expect a man to give up his seat to someone else just because that person happened to be a woman.

Perhaps, the guy had just spent the last eight hours loading and unloading cargo, or moving heavy crates back and forth. We don’t know. Perhaps, he was bone tired and really needed to rest his aching body. Perhaps, he just did not want to give up his seat. It doesn’t matter — it is his choice and who are we to judge?

As I was thinking about all of this, I thought of my own actions when I’m riding the bus. I have a job where I sit at a desk all day and when I am on my way home, I always get a seat because my stop is one of the first on the route.  I love that— let’s face it, who really wants to stand in the aisle on a crowded bus? I usually give up my seat to someone who obviously needs to sit — you know, someone with a disability, pregnant women, or elderly people. But now, after this mini epiphany, I will make sure to offer my seat to the next construction worker, or manual labourer who boards the bus — whether male or female.


Brynne’s Daily Drawing



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