The other day a friend of mine was riding a city bus that was packed to the gills. As she clung on to a bar and held on for dear life, she couldn’t help but notice that most of the “priority” seats reserved for the elderly or infirm were being taken by young, seemingly healthy folks. One young man even had his feet up on the seat opposite while he chatted on his mobile phone. Meanwhile, an old man was left to stand.
When a few people got off at the next stop, one of the priority seats freed up. But rather than sit down or offer it to someone more needy, another passenger moved to block the seat. Even if he was physically capable of standing, he should have realized that by blocking the seat he was creating more uncomfortable clutter in the aisles and making the ride more miserable for everyone else.
This is just a small everyday example of the lack of civility in our lives. People either lack basic common sense or are too busy looking out for themselves to show a little compassion for their fellow man. The next time you are in a crowded public space with limited seating—say, a waiting room, airport lounge, bus, or restaurant waiting area—look around to see if there is anyone else who could use your seat, such as an elderly person, someone on crutches, a parent with small children, or a pregnant woman. (Hint: Don’t just offer your seat to any woman with some belly fat—this has happened to a non-pregnant friend of mine twice and she’s been very offended! If you’re not sure, you can simply stand up so that the seat is free for her to take it if she likes.)
Small gestures like this really make our day-to-day routines much more pleasant. Imagine—you can brighten someone’s day simply by standing up!