Monday, September 22, 2008

Mind your manners

One of my English professors once told me that if you really dislike doing something in particular, you should do it to the best of your ability and with a giant smile on your face, because it'll go easier if you do that and you'll be absolutely miserable if you don't.

However, most people that I know who use public transportation, including myself, are not that fond of it.

In fact, I absolute dread commuting every morning and I find it incredibly difficult to do with a smile on my face and without complaining to somebody about it later in the day. I mean, who really enjoys cramming on to a crowded and shaky bus, filled with other miserable people and screaming children. I know that I don't, but I don't really have too much of a choice.

But what really irks me sometimes is the lack of manners that is displayed every single day by my fellow commuters. I know that there are no manuals or books on how one should behave on a bus, but it's really a common sense thing that hardly anybody seems to practice anymore.

Some transportation companies have even just begun to stress the importance of manners on the buses and subways. Just last year, the New Jersey transit system released a series of courtesy posters that are put up in their buses and subways, as well as their stops. Some of these posters depict people screaming, with sayings on them such as "HOW MANY SEATS DO YOU NEED?" or "I CAN'T TAKE THE NOISE!" I believe that the Pittsburgh Port Authority should definitely consider doing the same...

But why do we become so primal and rude anytime we step on a bus or subway? I've seen people using public transit for everything everything... from people "sharing" their music by blasting it during the entire ride on their cellphones, to the infamous person taking up two and sometimes even three seats when people are standing in the aisles, younger people sitting in seats reserved for the elderly and not giving up seats for people who really need it, people using the bus as a dressing room, people talking loudly, people causing fights on the bus as they scream and curse profane words in front of small children, and as well as the occasional "let me tell you the story of my life" seat mate.

But one of the worst experiences I've ever had on a bus was caused by... an egg sandwich.

This summer, I was sitting in the back of the bus, commuting to work in the early morning, when an older woman decided to sit next to me. She pulled out a sandwich wrapped in tin foil out of her purse and began to snack away.

I was highly irritated by the smell of egg, tuna, and mayo mixed together between two slabs of white bread, however, I figured that she probably didn't have enough time in the morning to get some breakfast and she seemed to be relatively nice as she had said "good morning" to me, so I decided ignore the putrid smell. But then another passenger, another older women with very long and dirty looking hair the drooped down to her waist, sat in the seat in front of us. The woman in front decided to push her hair back, letting it droop behind her seat and into our laps.

It was then at that point that I wanted to scream and and maybe even puke simultaneously.

However, my seat mate had already gotten to that point and tapped the woman in front of us and politely asked her to move her graying and tangled hair because it was getting into her nasty sandwich. Immediately the woman in front of us started screaming at her and said that my seat mate was harassing her, despite her friendly nature. The long-haired woman then got out of her seat several minutes of screaming at 8am and ran to the front of the bus, only to have the bus stop suddenly. She flew straight into the inside of the buses windshield, smacking against it like a helpless fly getting squashed.

Whether it was right or wrong for the lady sitting beside me to be eating on the bus, or whether it was right of wrong for the woman in front of us to be hanging her hair back on to us and to act so insulted, it's kind of sad to think that I've had to think about the ethics of this matter. I can't say who's more just, but I can say that both passengers were wrong in their own ways.

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