Dear PoP – A Metro Rant

D.C. Metro
Photo by PoPville flickr user Aziz .

“Dear PoP,

There are a number of things that I find irritating in this city and in general, but there is one that is infuriating to me: when people sit on the outer side of a two-seat metrotrain seat. The seats are built with arm rails so it’s not an easy thing to squeeze in between a person and the arm rail. I’ve found that it’s an equal opportunity offense- people of all ages, races and gender do it, some while reading, others while texting or playing some game and others who are just sitting and staring into space. I totally respect and endorse the metro “code” of general quiet and lack of eye-contact, but this makes me want to throw a fit, or a punch. I will get on a train and there will be at least three open seats in a car rendered essentially unusable by a person taking up two seats, with their possessions, sprawling posture, or unwillingness to move over. The worst is when you actually do try to sit down and you are treated like a criminal for disrupting their two seat luxury box. Today after nearly elbowing my seatmate in the face, did they finally deign to give me my 50% of the space. I CANNOT stand this as it is rude and discourteous. Can anyone explain why there is any rational reason for people to show a total lack of respect to others?”

Sometimes a good rant is necessary for mental health purposes. The problem won’t get solved but it’s nice to let off some steam. I did the same thing when I saw some guy clipping his fingernails on the metro…

38 Comment

  • I agree that somebody should be punched in the face when they do this, but very rarely do I see this happen.

  • If I see a single sitting in an outer seat vs. a single sitting in an inner, I’ll almost always go for the outer person, make a gesture towards the empty inner, and make the person move to let me in. No one ever says no, and it’s a lesson that dickishness doesn’t pay.

  • Just curious, where is this ranter from?

  • Kalorini

    A simple and curt “Excuse me” usually does the trick. Try that next time while you’re en route to your anger management meetings.

  • That’s the storied ‘northern charm’ your witnessing. When you wait 20 mins for a train, that’s the ‘southern efficiency’.

  • You know, I usually am willing to give a LOT of leeway to appropriate topics for these posts… but really? Really?

    Kalorini called it. Say “excuse me” if you want the seat. People sit on the outside because it works! They understand that most people would rather passive-aggressively fume on the internet than actually confront the issue head-on.

  • Whenever I sit on the outer solo it’s because my stop is coming up and I don’t want to make a potential seat companion get up twice. I’m actually being courteous when I do that. I generally am aware of body language when someone wants to sit though and I’m very cooperative to get up quickly so they can have a seat. There are definitely some douche tools out there, but not very often so I feel they are the exception.

    • i do the same.
      usually i’m not on the train long, so why inconvenience someone else?
      i get up or move as necessary.
      just because i’m in an outer seat position, doesn’t mean i’m an asshole.

      not completely related, other than the traveling with the public:
      worse “etiquette” to me is when i’m traveling by plane, and while de-boarding, someone from a row behind makes sure they get in front of as many people as possible.

    • I agree. On the rare occasion that I do this, it’s only bc my stop is coming up, and if someone says “excuse me” or even if they just plain ask, I always move. I actually think this is polite, so I don’t have to disrupt you as I get up in 1-2 stops.

      I think generally the people that use the seat on the crowded train for the stuff are rude, but you never know why they are doing it.

    • I do the same. I usually slide over, but if I let people know that my stop is next.

  • best advice i can give you – deal with it.

  • Also, the seats were designed for 1970s sized Americans.

  • shy you just hit on the biggest problem…

    … the seats are too small. or are the people sitting in them too large? hmmmm, empirical evidence leads me to conclude the latter. this city is a blaring testament to our nation’s crippling obesity epidemic.

    i mean, while we’re ranting and all- anyone with a BMI over 30 needs serious and immediate help. biggest pet peeve, and its not necessarily with the individuals, its a systemic problem.

  • I sit in the outside seat because (1) my stop is coming up, and (2) I’m a little claustrophobic (being in the metro to begin with doesn’t help), and unless I can get one of the seats near the doors that are open, I’ll sit on the end or stand. Just ask — I’ll move over or get up to let you in. I’m not sitting there to be a jerk.

  • somebody hit it with the curt “excuse me”. Its fun making the thuggy scumbag move or entitled princess get her over-perfumed 350lb arse up.
    but hey, Its my dickish nature. like elbowing or pushing the guy that stands in front of the doors during rush hour (my pet peeve). Learn to take the little joys in your type-a personality, while educating your fellow riders.

  • I sit on the outside sometimes. I try to move if somebody comes looking for a seat. I also ask people to move if they take an outside seat.

    But clearly everyone should just sit on the inside so we don’t actually have to interact with each other. God forbid.

    • so true! this is why I actually like the bus better – especially now that nextbus exists. People tend to say things like “good morning” to each other far more often, or exchange other small-talk. No one gives anyone else a death-stare for this interaction. I’ve never seen an old or disabled or pregnant person have to stand, or someone holding a kid. It’s just so much warmer than the metro.

      • saf

        I also prefer the bus for the same reasons.

        I had my hip replaced last year. For a while before, I had to walk very slowly with a cane. After, I was on crutches, then using a cane, for quite a while. Even the high school kids helped me on and off the bus, and made sure I had a seat.

        And yes, people are just friendlier on the bus in general, IME.

  • somebody hit it with the curt “excuse me”. Its fun making the thuggy scumbag move or entitled princess get her over-perfumed 350lb arse up.
    but hey, Its my dickish nature. if you are going to stand in front of the doorway during rush hour, expect to get elbowed or shoved. after a while you get used to pushing your way out and its no big deal.
    Learn to take the little joys in your type-a personality, while educating your fellow riders.

  • I sit on the outside to give my legs some damn room. It’s impossible to squeeze into those seats – not because I’m fat – just tall.

  • Use – your – words! “Excuse me.” Now go cure f-ing world hunger.

  • Just to clarify, I assume the rant is directed to people who sit in the outer seat of two-seat banks that have a seat bank in front of them (as opposed to the seat bank that has open space in front).
    When I sit in an “enclosed” two-seat bank I pretty much always sit by the window (the inner part). But since I am taller and a bit wider than the average bear, the odds are slim that anyone else is going to try and sit next to me because there is no room for anything but a small child. In fact, I can barely fit my knees in front of me. (The foreign metro car manufacturers really need to start realizing that Americans are larger than the Japanese.)
    I have not paid much attention to which of the seats riders tend to choose but I regularly see and hear riders ask for and receive access to the inner seat.
    As far as spreading out over multiple seats, that is in the general category of selfishness. Like, say, going to a coffee shop with free wifi and setting up shop across multiple seating spaces. Again, in my experience, easily addressed with a simple “excuse me, but do you mind . . .”

  • One word: Stand.

  • Because I’m tall, I generally hate to sit in the seats with seats in front of them, since I really cannot sit straight forward in them. I usually sit in the open-faced seats or stand. But I will occasionally sit in the enclosed seats if the train is somewhat empty, and always on the aisle. But I have no problem letting someone in if they want to sit next to me.

    My advice: get over it.

  • some of us have long legs that straight up DO NOT fit inside the space allowed if two people were sitting on the bench. Anyone over 6 feet tall surely agrees with me. Latitudenal and longitudenal changes need to be made to cater to a new generation of fat and tall americans.

  • I will sit in the aisle seat by myself only if the train is empty enough for everyone to have their own two-seater. As soon as that threshold is breached, I scoot my tush over to the window.

  • I think I am done with this site. It’s become a sounding board for whiners, complainers, and DC bashers.

    Here’s what I’ll tell them all- please leave our city. It’ll be better for all involved.

    PoP himself represents the beautiful life, but I’m not so sure the site and readers do anymore

  • I concur on the height issue. I am 6’4” and sitting on the inside seat is not an option. I almost always just stand on the Metro unless there are lots of open seats.

  • More and more professional types are drinking/eating on the train and in the stations. Doesn’t metro enforce the no food/drink policy anymore? Few years back a little girl was in trouble for eating while in the platform.

  • D.C. Transit cable street cars were a trip.

    Open air, there was no heating or air conditioning. We all stood with one arm hanging on for dear life.

    We paid with dime sized star within a circle tokens that cost less than a dime.

    We could hear the screech and sparks of the cable above especially when it rained and snowed.

    It was urban public transportation.

  • Buck up, be a man and say excuse me and sit down. Come on! Out of all things you could worry yourself about.

  • long legs? i’m on the short end of 5’11” and sitting next to someone on an interior row is not an option. i sit in a seat near the door with leg room or just stand. definitely not designed for even the average sized male.

    and LOL at fuming on the internet about this. A polite “may i have that seat” i bet works 99% of the tim.

  • It’s not just BMI. As someone over 6′, it’s near impossible for my to get on the inside seat. Always pick an aisle seat on planes too. Every extra inch helps.

  • But if I sit on the inside, and someone sits next to me on the outside, and I get off at the very next stop, they grumble and make big annoying gestures with getting their stuff together to let me out.

  • I lived in S. America for three years after college with Peace Corps, and our training drilled into our heads the importance of always sitting on the outside of the seat to avoid muggings/stabbings/other dangerous situations. If you are on the inside, someone can essentially ‘trap’ you and often time people are robbed or threatened with knives and guns. Classic mugging scenario. It took me 5+ years to get this way of thinking out of my head after moving back to DC, but sometimes the old ‘instincts’ still kick in, unintentionally.

    Good rule of thumb: Sometimes you just don’t know why people do the things they do, and, it never hurts to ask.

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