The Metrorail Commandments, Cont'd
February 18, 2004
Part Two: Seating Etiquette
Center-facing seats on Metro are “Priority Seating for the Disabled and Senior Citizens,” which I think is just the sweetest idea. However, living in the barbaric culture that we do, they are really priority seating for whoever can run over the most people and get to them. When someone for whom those seats are meant gets on, the people sitting in the priority seating suddenly develop disabilities of their own:
4) Varying degrees of various vegetative states.
Once in a blue moon, I have indeed seen someone give up their seat. It’s a beautiful gesture. It’s usually a young college student in his best interview suit. Sometimes it’s a kindly businessman. It is never a woman. Why is this? Well, we’re just bitches I guess.
Some people hate being “on the inside.” This refers to the seat next to the window. Windows on the Metro do not hold the appeal that they do on airplanes. Windows on the Metro mean you get to watch the inside of tunnels. They are not great. Although they do make very good mirrors. Once you enter a tunnel, you can see a perfectly clear reflection of yourself. All through the train, you see people discreetly touching hair -- tucking it back into place or giving it a little *lift* with the fingers. Some people feel no shame about whipping out the hair brushes. Hell, I once saw a woman put on a full face of makeup and put her hair into a French twist just using the window.
But anyway, some people don’t like sitting next to windows. I don’t think it’s really about the window though; it’s about being “on the inside.” You never know who will sit on the outside seat and subsequently trap you in. You might get squished or asphyxiated by a bad-smelling person. Believe me when I tell you this: You will never know to what extent some human beings stink until you have ridden Metro.
One time a rather oversized individual sat next to me and proceeded to clip her fingernails. Little clippings started flying in all directions, but most of them seemed to favor my direction. This is a little-known peril of the inside seat -- you cannot dodge flying fingernail clippings.
(I must diverge at this point from seating etiquette and point out the obvious. Some people feel the need to use their time on Metro to perform assorted tasks that really ought to be done at home. Clipping one’s fingernails is a good example. Do you really think the rest of the world enjoys watching you perform this ritual? Likewise for q-tipping one’s ears (which is a big no-no anyway, So. Shame. On. You.), squeezing pimples, delousing, plucking eyebrows, and checking for ticks.)
However, no matter what side you sit on, you must participate in the Getting Up Dance. Here are the basic steps: 1) The inside individual gives the signal that his or her stop is approaching. They clear their throat, shuffle their belongings, and begin to stand up. 2) The outside person is startled and awkwardly stands up and steps into the aisle, taking care to still be in the other passenger’s way. 3) As the train lurches to a stop, both passengers sway, trip, shuffle this way and that. 4) The inner passenger steps on the outer passenger’s feet, excuse me’s and thank you’s are grunted as the inner heads towards the doors.
Yeah, this one was lame. Tomorrow's will be funnier and then my Metro tantrums are done. Anyway. Tomorrow's installment: Don't Cry Little Tourist, Amy's an Idiot Too