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“You first” “No, you” “No, it’s fine, you go” “No, I insist”… and other socially awkward situations

Earlier this week I read Brendan Nelson’s article on the guardian, which looked at a game that many of us Londoners play on an almost daily basis – the seat acquisition game.

Brendan rightly points out that there are ‘underlying patterns that shape commuter behaviour’ – past experiences, things we’ve been taught from an early age.  I vividly remember crying my eyes out at the ripe old age of four when my mum made me stand up on a terrifyingly fast-moving bus* so that an elderly lady could sit down.  Oh the shame.

I think I’m overly aware of the ‘rules’ on public transport, and indeed in other areas of life.  And it’s this awareness that can lead to some quite frankly awkward social situations.  For example:

– The fat/pregnant debate – we will ALL fall foul of this at some point…

– The ‘elderly’ saga – at what age IS someone now classed as elderly? My colleague’s mum is in her early 60s, runs marathons like most of us would run errands and gets hugely offended when somebody offers her a seat on the train

– The ‘too polite for our own good’ dance – the to-ing and fro-ing of “you first” “no you” “no I insist” when trying to get through a door

– The ‘overfamiliarity’ complex – the point at which the lady in the gym, who up until now you’ve excahnged pleasantrys with on a frequent basis, finds it acceptable to take your relationship to the next stage and start drying his/her bits mid-conversation

We live our lives by so many rules, so I think I’ll start my own – take the lead, don’t stare and if in doubt, give up your seat and pretend you were getting off at the next stop anyway.

 

 

*It wasn’t moving THAT fast, I just think this was the first time I’d ever stood up on moving transport.  It’s quite freaky the first time you do it.

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