Sunday, March 23, 2008

Some people just aren't afraid to ask

I'm about to describe a situation to you that I witnessed last Friday. I found it amusing purely because of this woman's audacity, although I can't say I agree with her. I'm curious what you think of this situation.

In a crowded train home, in comes a larger young (no more than 30s) woman who was left standing. To get to the point here, I'm not going to sugar coat anything. She is definitely overweight, and perhaps weighed in somewhere between 225-250...unhealthily large for her frame. It was apparent that she did not enjoy standing during the ride as she let out a loud sigh every few seconds, and stretched her head in all directions to look for place to sit. She didn't have a lot carry-ons, just a small purse that hung over her shoulders. She may be large but she looked like she was keeping her balance well.

Here's what came as a surprise to me. She squeezed her way down to another section of the train and tapped on the shoulders of a man dressed in a suit, who was seated by the window. She says, "Sir, if you don't mind, I'd really like to sit down."

This poor man was probably just as tired after a long day of work as she was. It was an awkward question. He was not seated in a handicapped seat but the fact that she picked him out of the crowd and asked him to give his seat up in front of everyone also meant that he had to think twice before telling her 'no!' (which I might have done in this situation, especially if I'm tired too, maybe a little grumpy from a tough day at work, and got my seat fair and square).

The nice gentleman actually said, "sure, no problem" and got up for her. Since he had the window seat, the passenger seated next to him (who happens to be female) also had to vacate, causing a cluster **ck in the crowded aisle. Perhaps he is just a rare gentleman who believed that he should conduct in this manner, or perhaps it was the pressure of being asked in front of at least 15 people who were awaiting his reply. The woman then refused to get into the window seat and asked for the aisle seat. Since she refused to get in first, she pretty much left the other passenger with no choice but be jammed up in the window seat.

Nevertheless, the overweight woman did say thanks and got her aisle seat.

I thought she was rude and self-entitled. I may not have have reacted so well if someone randomly asks me to vacate my seat.


SongMonk said...

I think the young woman was out of line, but if I had been the guy she asked (and had been able to think things through), I would have given her my seat anyway. Just because she was out of line doesn't mean I need to oppose it.

This is one of those situations where I'd say "not right", but given how we got there, this is how we're going to proceed for the greatest benefit to all.

If I had been observing and the guy had politely refused, I would have been sympathetic to the awkwardness.

Anonymous said...

I will judge this woman as being a passive-aggressive entitlement monster.

People with physical mobility or standing issues don't force their 250-lb frame down the aisle of crowded rush-hour BART trains, make a demand (I don't care if she framed it as a request -- wasn't one) that someone give up their seat, then inconvenience the other person by demanding the aisle seat.

Anonymous said...

I think I was there and thought I observed a similar situation tho I was farther away. The man and the woman who got up for this bitch were too nice. It's not something I would do. She needs to learn some manners.

Jimmy Chan said...

It would have been for her benefit to keep her standing. In fact she should take the opportunity to walk up and down the length of the train to work some calories off.

Anonymous said...

She might have been a woman, but she sure had some great big brass cojones on her.....

What rude b!tch.

Anonymous said...

What if she was sick? Would the reaction be the same if she was a curvy woman? Perhaps she is disabled and her weight is a byproduct of illness and not the cause. I'm amazed at how judgementmental people are without having the first clue why she wanted a seat. You were so offended by her size, you don't even care if she had a reason for asking for a seat except that she was fat.

Anonymous said...

I applaud the gentleman for getting up. Then again, if there is a female standing and I have a seat I will offer it before I stick my book in my face or not to stare eye to eye with anyone who might want the seat. I don't care if I have had a long day or not.

Anonymous said...

Oh spare us from your sanctimonious bleating about disabilities that aren't readily visible. People who have such grave handicaps the rest of us can't see aren't prone to shoving their large frame (and yes, mentioning that she's large is relevant because it notes that greater than normal effort had to be expended for her to make that move) down a crowded row of rush-hour travelers to demand someone in a non-handicapped row give up their seat. If standing was a burden for her, that amount of expended effort would have done far much worse. Go build your strawmen somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Ok, first off, I am a large woman. I'm 5'8" and I tip the scales at over 300# (but most people do not think that I weight that much). I typically would just stand if there were no seats available. (Sometimes, I even enjoy the ride better standing -- I look at it like surfing on a larger scale.) I have a niece that is a large girl, as well. She, on the other hand, would have asked for a seat. Which, I personally feel, would have been out of place. They were there before her, she needs to wait for a seat like everyone else. It was not the other person that put the food in your mouth. Just like the guy in the suit isn't going to kill you with the diabetes that you're going to develope later in life. I won't tell you how many times I have been sick, and have stood on a bus or lightrail. I just think that it's rude to push someone out of their seat, just because I have a fat ass. And to be honest, I have refused seats from gentlemen because I knew that the seat was going to be too narrow for my wide ass to sit down and be comfortable with someone else sitting right next to me -- and I know that they will not be comfortable either, for that matter. If I ever heard of my niece doing this to someone, I would bitch her up one side and down the other -- no matter how many excuses she can come up with!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It seems odd that noone on the train had the manners to offer this woman their seat until she asked someone for it. This is what I was taught growing up in Chicago--on the el or the bus as a guy, offer your seat to a woman or older person who gets on.

I tend to be a little leery of doing that in the Bay Area--while plenty of people seem to appreciate the gesture, many others see it as enforcing a male-dominated cultural norm and are, perhaps, not so friendly as they decline.

For me in this situation, though, the question is: why didn't someone offer their seat to this large woman? If nothing else, they could have taken pleasure from doing so, and perhaps also from reminding themselves that they are relatively healthy and in decent shape such that they can do so, and that they encouraged by example a society where we help one another instead of turning a blind eye.

Anonymous said...

There is an earlier post (July 2007) that comments disapprovingly on riders' failure to give up their seats to an octagenerian woman. Why the difference here?

The point on giving up one's seat is that it is not about the person for whom one is giving up the seat, whether they are thin and 80 or fat and 30. The act is about the person giving up the seat.

Discussion that focuses on the person who sat down misses the point.