Rant: Everyone Is Terrible on the Train

Ranters: Retiree clutching a theater program and wearing a denim dress; her gentleman companion; a guy sitting nearby reading Mother Jones.

Location: BART train leaving Civic Center Station

Time: Between 10 and 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday

Topics Covered: What's wrong with society today; the horribleness of people who sleep on public transit; what one white person believes is wrong with an entire group of people that out of politeness goes not quite identified; passive aggression.

The Rant:
[Denim-Dress Woman and her gentleman companion press into a train that's busier than you would expect at this hour. They look for a place to sit but find nothing.]

Denim-Dress Woman: Not even one person offers a seat. That's the modern world, I guess.

Gentleman Companion: What about that one?

[He points to the rear of the train, where a young man is sprawled out across two seats.]

Denim-Dress Woman: [Whispering] Isn't it awful?

Gentleman Companion: [Also whispering] If he's okay, it's awful.

Denim-Dress Woman: He is okay, right?

Gentleman Companion: If he is, he should scoot over.

Denim-Dress Woman: He's fine. Some of them just do that, that's all. It shows the world they're important. [The doors open. More people pack in.] Someone really should offer a seat, though.

Guy Sitting Nearby: If you want a seat, go back and ask. Or are you just going keep trying to shame everyone?

[Denim-Dress Woman opens her mouth to speak but then doesn't.]

Guy Sitting Nearby: Nobody owes you a seat, especially when there's one wide open.

Denim-Dress Woman: You think on a crowded train I should have to go around asking —

Guy Sitting Nearby: I think on a crowded train you shouldn't say racist bullshit.

[Denim-Dress Woman looks stunned. Her gentleman companion grabs her elbow and starts pressing through the crowd to the back of the car.]

Denim-Dress Woman: No! I'm not going to —

Gentleman Companion: Hush. Just hush.

[They pass the seat-hog and then through the doors into the next car.]

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Well the guy sitting nearby has a point. Its irritating when people just stand there and complain. If you really want that seat then do something, if not then just be quiet because no one wants to hear your gossip or pop-psychology of what you think is wrong with someone because they don't offer it to you.

In this day and age, you have to go after what you want, we no longer live in a time where you can expect people to hand something to you. You have no inherent right to a seat. Yes, you bought a ticket but that only guarantees your right to get from point A to point B, but not in a comfortable fashion.

Reginald Stonebody
Reginald Stonebody

Typical SF elitism by all. If this was Mumbai, we'd fit twice as many people in that train car and nobody would complain. If you have personal space issues, you should not be here.

Rocket J
Rocket J

If you think the crowding of Mumbai is somehow superior to SF, you should not be here. As politicalbob notes, giving a seat to a senior or disabled is not an option but the law.


What the passenger labelled "Guy Sitting Nearby" and also the writer ignores is that the "retiree" IS owed a seat--no matter what any passenger thinks about the biases she may express .

If people bothered to read the signs, seats by the door are required by federal regulation to be yielded to seniors and / or to people with disabilities.This is not a courtesy, nor should it need to be asked for.

However, since so many passengers try to feign obliviousness, sometimes it helps simply to stand in the doorway and block it from closing , while announcing that a seat needs be yielded for a senior / person with a disability..

When passengers realize they may have some delay,, suddenly they pay attention.Not out of the milk of human kindness but out of self-interest in getting to their destination

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