Metro Etiquette Frustration Vol. 22 – Your Bag Doesn’t Need its own Seat

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

“Dear PoPville,

Got on the metro this morning and sat in the usual section – end of the car where the doors open at the escalators at my stop – and the woman I sit next to seems distinctly displeased that I chose to sit next to her. She begrudgingly moved her massive bag an inch or so to barely accommodate me (still, it ended up with half of it resting on my arm/side) and left her leg crossed and over into the area in front of my seat, preventing me from sitting comfortably. I asked if she could please give me some room – after trying to settle in my seat – and she huffed an ‘excuse me!” at me. I told her that her bag (large and heavy) was resting completely on me and that she had her leg over in my space. At this point she leaped up and climbed across me to sit elsewhere. Glad to have a comfortable seat again, I forgot about her, and next stop had someone sit next to me who wasn’t entitled and didn’t feel I was her personal bag rest or that the area for my legs in fact belonged to her.

The first woman – I’m sure thinking up something incredibly, devastatingly clever in the several stops to her destination – tried to say some parting words to me (for what? for asking her to remove her bag from my side?) as she got off the Metro, which I didn’t hear. Bravo for her.

This sort of behavior is not atypical of Metro riders in this town, but one sad and pathetic example of how someone reacts to a minor and reasonable request as if they were personally offended to the extreme. Settle down people.”

Ed. Note: TL;DR I guess the PSA is – your bag does not need it’s own metro seat. I agree.

101 Comment

  • There are rude people everywhere. Who cares.

  • 10 points for sticking up for your right to seat with this self-entitled, inconsiderate fellow metro rider.
    Minus 1,000,000,000 points for writing a three-paragraph, self-righteous email about it to POP. Get a life people.

  • Sometimes, as long as the 2-seat-taker doesn’t look too hostile, I pick that spot on purpose and ask him/her to move his/her stuff. It’s one thing to take 2 seats when the metro car is mostly empty; to do that during morning rush is just rude and I’m not above being the person who forces that rudeness end. 😉

    • I’m with you – When there are few empty seats (say, maybe less than 50% empty) I actively seek out people taking up a second seat with their bags and sit next to them, forcing them to move their bags.

    • YES. I do this too.

    • +1. Especially if the person is sitting in the aisle seat with their stuff on the inside seat.

      I lived in the Park View/Petworth area for years, and used to take an always-packed-to-the-gills rush hour bus to work downtown. My favorite was always this older woman who would sit in the outside seat, put her stuff on the inside seat, glare any anyone who looked her way, and read the Bible. Every morning. Apparently those gospel messages did not translate into ‘do not consciously deny someone a seat when the bus is jam-packed.’

    • I do this too.

    • Lol. I did that this morning. The woman had two bags in the seat. She was nice and moved them though so I could sit.

  • This morning a young person physically pushed past me, an older person, to beat me to the last available seat. Multiple other riders watched. Not one said anything.

    • What did you do — or say? It sounds like you said/did nothing, yet somehow expected multiple other riders to both notice and intervene in a non-emergency situation. I’m curious. You seem to expect that your status as an “older person” should matter. How would you have felt if someone had yelled at the “young person” to “let that OLD person have that seat”? If in your case, “older” means “frail” — I hope you feel comfortable asking for the seats by the doors. In every instance that I’ve seen someone ask to sit there, people have responded courteously — even if it’s to assert their own need for priority seating.

      • It is respecting your elders, and allowing them to sit before yourself. It’s pretty simple.

        • Actually, it’s not always so simple. But thank you for your detailed, cogent, sensitive response.

          • No problem, I guess i was just brought with manners.

          • I guess some people just weren’t taught proper manners. Respect your elders.

          • Manners? — and possibly a lack of imagination. Maybe you should read through today’s Rant and Revels posts — for an example of how someone offering up a seat was treated by the person that he offered it to. I’ve certainly had nasty responses by people who were, perhaps, shocked that I — no spring chicken myself — viewed them as “old” or infirm instead of as vital and sprightly. I note that you didn’t respond directly to any of my comments — but perhaps being “just brought with manners” sic — is a telling response.

          • CT, you need to stop attacking readers here. You are rude and vitriolic towards us and it is unwarranted.

    • what do you mean older person? How old are we talking here?

      • Why do you ask? Is there a number that would make pushing another person aside acceptable? Like, it’s ok to push someone who’s 50, what with 50 being the new 35 and all. But 60 and over, you’re *shocked*.

  • Please read your last paragraph — and consider following your own advice. You had choices. You made one. You were unhappy with it. You got what you wanted, and now you apparently want public support for your arduous morning when it took you twenty whole seconds of huffing and puffing at a stranger to get a seat all to yourself. Chill. Please.

  • Welcome to DC. There are a lot of non-assholes in this town, but sadly they’re the minority.

  • I always wonder if these people do this intentionally in order to bait someone in to a fight. These people are typically disgruntled folks who are already pissed off for whatever reason, and making them move seems to piss them off even further. This issue is even worse on the buses.

  • Wish Metro would convert all its trains to bench-seating.

    • So you can put your bag next to you on a bench, instead of a seat?

    • All that would do is give people even more excuse to use up more than their fair share of seating room. With 2 seats next to each other, you can fit 2 people. With a bench, there are no rules and no limit to how much space you can use.

    • Someone would invariably lie on the entire bench, probably with their shoes off.

      • In that situation, though, shoes off would (probably) be better than shoes on.
        I do not understand people who think it’s OK to rest their feet/shoes on seats that other people are going to sit on.

  • This morning everyone seemed particularly horrible – standing by the doors, not pushing in, opting to take an isle seat when the window was empty (and not getting off for several stops). But that’s the story of commuting in DC. Buck up and get used to it…

  • My foot is broken, I am wearing a giant boot that is very difficult to walk in and people get pissed if I ask to sitdown in a seat that has a purse on it. Also, those assholes that sit on the outer seat so no one can sit next to them. God forbid someone that actually needs the seat ask for it. People just dont have manners anymore /:

    • I was in a walking boot a few weeks back and a woman yelled at me for taking a priority seat “YOU”RE NOT 65”. I told her I was temporarily disabled and pointed to my foot (I had a ticket agent at the airport call me out for boarding early and then laughed and apologized profusely once he saw the boot). She rolled her eyes, muttered at me and stomped to the other end of the car. If she needed a seat so badly, she could have asked any of the three other people in the priority seats.

      • I got up for a pregnant woman the other day, and when I was struggling to stand with this boot on a man (young, NOT a senior) started yelling at me that if I needed a seat so bad, then I shouldn’t have given up my seat. Meanwhile, a young healthy looking woman and a young man on his laptop sat comfortably in the priority seating with this man. Some people truly are awful.

    • I’m with you. I just don’t get why as a grown human being someone can’t recognize a busy metro and accommodate others. I got on a car the other day and I”m not kidding 4 seats had only 1 person in it and all four of them had people lying across the benches sleeping. This was in the evening commute I might add. I know people are dicks everywhere but I’ve ridden a lot in Boston and NY and the selfishness level displayed in either can’t even remotely compare to DC.
      Side note; I think it should be legal to punch people who play games or music on their phones without headphones.

      • It’s certainly legal to text the Metro police and report the person playing their music or game without headphones on. I don’t know that they’d exactly rush to handle the situation, but you never know.

  • And people wonder why we are now the snobbiest city in the country…nice.

  • Best recent atrocity I saw blows this away. On a medium-busy rush hour train, a guy was sprawled across an entire end bench, with his legs and feet up on the adjacent handicapped seats, and his arm draped around the standing pole to boot. I really don’t think there was any way a single human being could take up more space.

    • People’s need to take up as much space as possible on Metro is just bizarre. The oddest example that’s happened to me recently is the guy who came up to the pole I was holding onto and leaned his whole body into it, wrapping one of his arms around my hand. So my hand was pressed to his chest and his arm was wrapped around my forearm. And the dude is acting like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

      • Yuck. I just had that happen last week, too. I was standing, single hand on the pole and leaving lots of room for others, when a woman who got on quite deliberately leaned her entire body back against the pole and kept it there, covering my knuckles with her back. I don’t think it was meant in a creepy or sexual way, just rudely establishing it as “her” pole. As a man, I went from feeling astounded to confused to pervy to just annoyed in about three seconds. I simply moved, but still remember how weird it was.

        • I didn’t really didn’t get a sexual vibe from the guy at all. Or a rude one, he was just really matter of fact about it. I was a little weirded out, but mostly just amused that he would think that getting that up in a stranger’s space was appropriate. But I was there first and I’m stubborn, so I stayed put.

          • I totally appreciate that you held on and why. However, as a man, I would never, ever want to leave myself vulnerable to being accused of something inappropriate, no matter how right I was or how absurd the situation. Through no fault of my own, I was suddenly touching a stranger’s body with my hand in place that made me very uncomfortable, and my only thought was to get away.

          • To clarify, I was not trying to say that you should not have moved or been creeped out. There have definitely been times where the encroachment on my space has made me feel like moving. We all have to be a little closer than we’d like on Metro, and there are definitely people who take advantage of that in creepy ways. This event just didn’t strike me that way.

    • Except for the pole part, that’s not too different from how I see men (especially younger ones) sitting all the time on Metrorail, even in the handicapped seats. You practically have to kick these guys just to get past them to go stand somewhere else, and heaven forbid you ask them to move so either you or someone else who just got on and obviously needs a seat can have one. I used to stand on the trains just so I didn’t chance taking up a seat for someone who might need one, but quit doing that when I realized that 9 times out of 10 that seat would end up being taken by some dude who wouldn’t give up their seat for their own grandmother. At least if I’m taking up a seat I know I’m willing to get up off my ass if someone who needs the seat gets on after me.

  • These are the same people who refuse to move back while standing on the bus, while leaving a crowd of people crushed up against each other at the front of the desk.

    I got on the bus this morning, and I asked this guy if he could please move back to give everybody some room, as he had about five feet behind him and he was blocking the aisle. He just gave me a blank stare. A few stops later enough people got off that we could both sit down, me a few rows behind him, and he turned around several times to simply glare at me.

  • Not everyone sits in an aisle seat to prevent people from sitting next to them. When I sit in an aisle seat because the window seat is wet and/or gross, I feel judged by everyone around me.

    • Or it could be because you’re getting off soon. I will usually just ask to sit and most people are fine with it, though it does look douchey.

  • Do people really see it as a jerk move to sit in the aisle seat rather than the window? Most of the people I know who do it are women trying to avoid being boxed in by creepers on the Metro. And I’ve never had a bad experience asking for the window seat if I wanted to sit, so I’m curious why it would get on people’s nerves.

    • I see it more as a jerk move when you actually wont stand up to let me in and make me scramble/pole vault over your legs to get a seat- could make it easier for everyone and just sit a seat over from the beginning.

      Also, stand the F up when I am trying to get out. I am one of those folks who does wait until the train/bus stops. I am not going to ask you until then.

      • But again, these women are sitting on the aisle to avoid getting trapped by someone who is sexually harassing them. I think that their safety and ability to get away if need be trumps the convenience of saving you a few seconds of time.

        • It’s not about me personally saving time, it is more about being comfortable for everyone. And I have been a women who has been “boxed in” by a creepy dude a few times (it happens to us all) and ya know what I did about the situation? Got up and f’ng moved, stood, danced to the back – there is no way I am going to allow myself to be “boxed in” by a dude.

        • How do you know that these women are sitting in the aisle to avoid the harassment? serious question out of curiosity or is it just you explaining why you sit on the aisle?

      • I HATE when people won’t get up to let you out and they just like slide their legs over slightly. Unless you are disabled in some way you need to get your ass up.

        On that note, it also super annoys me when people insist on getting out of their seat when the train is nowhere near close to their stop since you’re way more likely to fall or something when getting up while the train is moving as opposed to when it’s come to a full stop. Like, just chill. You’ll get off the train. It will all turn out ok.

    • I have never had an issue on the Metro by being boxed in. During Rush Hour I especially have no issue sitting in the window seat – there are enough people around I can loudly draw attention to a creeper. It’s just pure laziness to not move in.

  • I’m one of the people who puts their bag on the seat, but when I do it:

    a) I don’t do it during rush hour
    b) If I do, it’s usually on an 8-car train and I sit in the 7th or 8th car where I know most people won’t get on
    c) If there are a rush of people coming in, I move my bag anyway to avoid precisely what the OP got into. I definitely think a lot of people have the “really? out of all the seats you sit next to me?” vibe which is probably where the attitude comes from.

    • is it really that hard to put your bag on the ground btwn your legs?

      • The floor is nasty and I also avoid putting my bag on the floor if possible.
        If it’s an otherwise fairly empty car, why do you care if someone has their bag on the seat? It’s not taking a spot from anyone else.

        • so do you talk you shoes off before you go in your home? bc you’ve been walking on the nasty ground all day long?, do you wash your feet before you put those nasty sweaty things on your couch? come on, unless the metro floor is covered in shit/piss/vomit/snot it’s not that nasty.

          • I wouldn’t want to put my bag on the floor either — I put it in my lap.

          • Yes, I absolutely take my shoes off before I go into my house, or anyone else’s. This city is filthy. We have an epidemic of some ailment that prevents many men from swallowing their saliva. Dog pee. Other kinds of pee. Exhaust from cars. That slime from wet decomposing leaves.
            Are you saying you DON’T take your shoes off in the house? I’m speechless.

          • Except I don’t put my shoes on the table or counter, which I later put food on, when I get home.

      • Or on your lap? I have a few really nice purses and hate to put them on the grimy Metro floor, but I ALWAYS hold them in my lap if the train is filling up. Actually, I should always put them in my lap – probably much cleaner than the seat!

      • Emmaleigh504

        If you put it on the ground between your legs then your legs take up too much room. People either need to learn to pull their legs together over their bag, or pull their legs together and put their bag on their laps.

      • If there are other completely empty seats available on a train why does it matter if someone has their purse on the seat next to them? If there are limited seats on the train that obviously that’s not cool but if there’s free room who cares?

        • +1 . It really annoys me when people take up an extra seat, but if there are other empty seats available, then it’s really not any of my business.

          • Plus it is super fucking creepy when someone gets on the metro and there are multiple completely empty seats and someone insists on sitting down right next to you. Like, seriously? You NEED that specific seat? Why would you choose to sit next to a complete stranger when you have the choice to not?

          • If you want to take up an extra seat, you should pick an area no one wants, not near a door. It’s like those jerks who take up two spaces with their precious cars. If you’re that concerned, park it at the back of the lot where others won’t be inconvenienced.

  • Earlier this week I was traveling on the metro during rush hour, standing in the middle of the aisle. Maybe three or four seats in front of me facing away (so I could see his hands and phone but not his face) there was a man taking pictures/videos of the head of the woman in front of him and, it looked like, texting them to someone.. I thought it was odd and kind of creepy but there were a bunch of other people in the aisle so I didn’t do anything immediately. Then the woman shifted a bit and I saw that there was a giant bug on her head! I got the attention of a guy standing farther down the aisle, closer to the woman and he told her and helped her brush it off. She was a little freaked out (it was a really big bug) but very thankful someone had told her. I still wish I had said something to picture-taking-guy.

  • Pole huggers are the worst. Especially when they enter the train and hug a pole that you were already holding onto. WTF people?

  • This post is making me think something that I thought was impossible: I’m actually a little bit nostalgic for old post-Soviet buses of the 1990s. Young men would jump up to let an older woman sit down, ladies with seats would take the heavy bags of people who were standing onto their laps, or sometimes even a small child if the mother wouldn’t be able to get a seat. Nobody ever had to ask for any of these courtesies.

    • Ha! I had forgotten about that. I was on a bus once in eastern europe, and I made to stand up for a woman with a toddler. She waved me back down– then handed me the kid. No common language, but it seemed totally normal and friendly, so I just went along with it.

  • I picked up the 96 bus to McLean Gardens at 11th and U. The bus was full, expect for one seat, which was the window seat with a lady in the aisle seat. I kindly asked if I could sit there. She huffed and puffed and then said, “FINE!,” but without getting up or moving her legs into the aisle so I had to basically crawl over her. She insulted me throughout the entire ride, calling me a “white bitch” and “fat ass,” which was interesting since I would categorize her as obese. I know I could have tried to switch seats, but I felt threatened and just ignored her. Though, I did take a lot of satisfaction when we wear near the end of the route and asked the bus driver, “Where should I get off if I need to go to 14th and Q?” She was so preoccupied with me that she took the bus too far. I knew that in order for her to get there, she’d have to wait a long while for the next bus to take her all the way back and then transfer.

    • Karma is a real b$%^ sometimes. I can’t imagine taking insults like that for a whole bus ride, though. Sheesh.

    • I think that’s the kind of thing that merits an “excuse me, did you say something?” People who do this are expecting everyone to just sit there and take their rudeness, it totally throws them off and often gains you a bit of respect.

  • The people who feel a bag deserves a seat on the metro are probably the same ones who are buying “Knee Defenders” to use on airplanes.

  • If the bag in the OP’s post was disabled, pregnant, or elderly, the bag should get a seat. Wait, what?


  • While some riders might not be versed in etiquette, there are signs that say that certain other behavior is “unlawful”– like eating or listening to music without headphones. Those bother me more than what might just be obliviousness.

    Although, if I get smacked in the head by ONE MORE BACKPACK or have ONE MORE CROTCH pushed in my face while on the bus, I’mma lose it

    • What bothers me is the drivers who don’t say something when someone is listening to obnoxious music loud enough for the entire bus to hear. Though this reminds me of the guy who sat next to me on the bus a few days ago and popped open a Heineken. Wasn’t too overt, but was definitely not sneeky about it.

  • just in case anyone was curious – that picture – with a bunch of cough medicine; well those young chemists were making what we call Texas Tea. Purple Drank (not to be confused with purple drink). Lean. Pouring a 2 in a 4 for all my Texas folks. Real screwed n chopped sh*t.

    the basic premise is you mix codeine (which is found in just about every cough medicine) with promethazine (a much harder drug/medicine to come across) but is readily prescribed for allegries and the like.

    once the two chemical components combine you get the end product (which these budding young chemists have clearly discovered) – LEAN. mix that with some Sprite and or Mountain Dew and a few jolly ranches (for color and flavor) and you have a REAL cup of Texas Tea. enjoy and remember not to drive. 🙂

    • Ohhhhhh, I see. Is this the same thing as sizzurp? I recently learned about that through one of my Urban Dictionary adventures.

      • yup. same thing as Sizzurp.

        and good call on the no codeine. didn’t think anyone would catch that 🙂 BUUUUT Coricidin uses acetaminophen and chlorpheniramine which combined are basically codeine (or they still make Sizzurp) TRUST ME – you can perfect make lean with Coricidin. these dues aren’t dumb…

    • there’s actually no codeine in this cough syrup

    • ?? Codeine is not easy to get. Can’t even have it called in anymore. You have to hand carry a written prescription. I had whooping cough a few months ago; they gave me three days of the codeine-containing syrup, then told me I’d have to make do with OTC when it ran out.
      I don’t doubt your recipe for purple drank (it’s about how I remember it)– just a note that those packages in the picture most certainly didn’t contain any codeine, and a warning that if your weekend plans include it, make make an alternative plan. Or include a run to Canada.

      • as I noted above – Coricidin uses acetaminophen and chlorpheniramine (which are not codeine) but combined produce a VERY similar product.

        and contrary to what your doctor told you, codeine is no more than a placebo for whooping cough you would need other antibiotics

        • Yes, the antibiotics were effective in the long term, thank you. The cough syrup was mostly effective in preventing me from herniating something from the wracking uncontrollable cough while I was waiting for the abx to do their thing. Codeine did not cure my whooping cough. Not sure where you got the idea anyone thought otherwise.
          You said “…mix codeine (which is found in just about every cough medicine)…” So I don’t think you know much about modern pharmacology. Ditto tylenol and chlor-tabs combining to make a product similar to an opiate-derived narcotic…
          However, if dumb kids think that they can mix OTC cold meds and get an illicit high I guess more power to them. They’re more likely to get liver failure from the acetaminophen OD.

    • Thanks for this. I recently needed someone to define was “Molly” was. I was born in the ’80s and had my fair share of fun in my 20s, but I think I’ve reached that age where I’ve become out of touch with what the kids are doing these days.

  • Oh Lord. This brings back such memories. A woman was sitting on the aisle seat of a double-seater on the metro one morning. The train car was packed. I can’t understand why none of the sheeple standing up had the stones to confront her, but I did. What was “funny” was that when I said “excuse me” and motioned towards the seat she actually had the utter gall to ask, “Do you want to sit here?”. No, I told her, I want to ask you to the prom. What do you THINK I want?? We’re on a public train! I’m not supposed to have to ASK your permission. She didn’t like that at all. We had words. She tried to bully me, threatened me with physical violence. I remained undeterred. She eventually moved. I sat down.

    Don’t let folks bully you on trains and busses because they’re using you to work out their personal problems with the world. Make them look like idiots. Embarrass them. That’s what works.

    • Katie, the vehemence and nastiness of your post strongly suggests that you’re looking for situations that you can use to work out your personal problems with the world.

      • CT, all you do is comment on other comments and criticize them. I saw you do this to others. Your opinion doesn’t amount to a hill of beans to me.

  • I think the etiquette depends on the current fullness of the metro car. If the metro car is full or probably going to become full in the next couple stops, don’t take up a whole row. If the metro car is half full to empty and you’ve got a big-ass purse, a gym bag, groceries, or just an extra big butt, you get to take up the whole row and everyone else needs to stop acting like the metro seat police.

  • Also, spreadsheet jockey bros with your massively overstuffed Chrome messenger bags and Osprey backpacks – take that sh#t off your back when you’re in a crowded bus or train! I hate getting whacked in the chest and face every time you turn around or move. Take the bag off your back and hold it in front of you, between your legs. It does much less damage to everyone down there!
    I feel bad for the short women who get bulldozed by these dorks every day on the Metro. What the hell are you carrying in those bags?!?

    • Yep. This. I’m a short girl and got a back pack to the face while packed like a sardine during the epic red line meltdown a couple weeks ago. Really made the situation way better.

  • People are constantly engaging in silent, mini-battles for space, comfort, priority, status, etc. The majority of people who put a purse on the seat, or sit in the outer seat, etc., will accommodate you without grumbling if you muster up the stones to, I don’t know, ask them nicely.
    This is seriously a ridiculous post/comments debate.

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