“WMATA station manager on a crowded rush hour train”

station manager

“Dear PoPville,

It’s frustrating enough to see someone “who doesn’t know any better” spread out in the handicapped seats – even more when it’s a WMATA station manager on a crowded rush hour train. (That’s the title that was on his sweater.)”

141 Comment

  • northeazy

    I have no problem with this whatsoever. If there are no handicapped people in need of the seat, then they are not to lay barren. Also, I don’t want to put my bag on the floor or my lap either. If you want to sit SPEAK UP. Everyone is so passive aggressive in this society. No one wants to talk to anyone. I am sure if you could have texted him anonymously, you would have told him to move his bag. I prefer not to sit next to anyone. So I put my bag on my seat. I see countless people pass by rather than ask to move it. Invariably, a person not afraid of taking to another person will ask me to move it and I always do. But hey, if you don’t ask; you don’t get.

    • But you obviously are aware that someone wants to use the seat, and yet you insist on this this passive aggressive behavior. You’re a taker.

    • Sorry, Northeazy, but if every seat is taken, and there are people standing, no one should have to ask you to move your bag. It is simply rude, and your comment clearly shows your intent (“I prefer not to sit next to anyone” – who doesn’t?). Yes, if there are many empty seats, that is a different situation, and leaving a bag is less rude. I, too, see countless people refuse to tell folks to move bags – that is on YOU, not them. Folks don’t want to engage in a fight, so they keep their mouths shut. It does not excuse your behavior. And, yes, I DO tell people to move their bags – politely, and still get huffs, sighs, etc.

      • I have been literally screamed at for asking someone to move their bag (and also in similar situations). Sometimes I will still ask; sometimes I won’t depending on my mood for conflict at the moment.
        This is terrible behavior and nasty attitude. Is the original comment for real or just trolling?

        • I’m guessing for real. On a daily basis people on Metro behave like its some kind of urban Lord of the Flies. Running onto trains to snag a seat, pushing past on escalators, shoving their way ahead when the doors open and just generally acting like they’re the sole being in the universe.

        • Seconding being screamed at for asking to move bag/if I can sit on unoccupied inner seat when person is sitting in outer seat. That’s why “no one wants to talk any more”

    • If you’re the type who puts their precious bag on the seat next to them, most people aren’t going to ask you to move your bag, because they assume you’re a hostile, self-centered jackass.

      • this is kinda true…

      • 100% true. The only people (in my experience) who do this are those who want to start a fight. Northeazy, you are the jerk.

      • Absolutely. Since when is my bag or an extra seat more important than another human being?

      • Or you put your bag down earlier on the line, and are reading a book or something and didn’t notice the train has gotten full. Just ask.

        • This forgetfulness may happen once in a blue moon, but in general, just don’t hog up extra seats with your shit. Simple as that! 🙂

        • “Or you put your bag down earlier on the line, and are reading a book or something and didn’t notice the train has gotten full.”
          This is not a good excuse – this isn’t your living room, it’s public transportation. Either pay attention or don’t put your bag on the seat to begin with.

    • “I prefer not to sit next to anyone. So I put my bag on my seat.”
      I prefer to sit next to people who are trying to prevent others from sitting next to them by putting their bag on the seat.

      • Haha – same here.

      • justinbc

        Yep, every time.

      • Me too!

      • I do this on Amtrak when headed to NYC…

      • Yep, same here. It’s public transportation, people.

      • OH HELL YES.
        Especially when they do the angry stare or fake sleep. No way.

        But I shouldn’t have to. They’re bullies and “normal people” who are not currently training shouldn’t have to take the risk of being bullied further when they stand up for their basic rights.

        Why do these creeps think they’re better than everyone else?

        Oh try this trick – when you see someone standing with a bag, or who doesn’t look physically intimidating and someone is doing the angry-stare-bag-on-seat abuse?
        Ask to sit there. 98% of the time they move.
        Then offer the open seat to the standing person.

        PS damn well better stay there and keep the creep in line.

        • Afterthought:
          While I likely sound like a creep’s creep, I should note and advise:
          I’m super polite about all this. I try to give all the right manly head nods, thank people when they let me in or out, and essentially try not to make them lose face.
          It’s almost normal, so really the intent is not just to “bully the bully,” but to give gentle nudges to acting like you’re part of society again. Lead by example, nudge, but then be positive about the right things they do. It’s not us vs. them.

    • Complains about how everyone is so passive aggressive… then puts bag on seat to passive aggressively prevent people from sitting there… ok.

    • I kind of agree with you, just ask them to move it. I do this sometimes but when its crowded I usually will put it in my lap

    • anonymouse_dianne

      “Oh, you paid the Special I Get Two Seats fare?” Glassbowl.

    • Translation: “I am going to engage in antisocial behavior until a someone asks be to stop. If no one asks me to stop, I believe I am justified in acting this way. I am a self-absorbed twatwaffle.”

    • That’s some seriously warped rationalizing. So people who are “afraid of talking” to you must suffer the consequences of your inability to responsible coexist in a shared space? Are you also one of those people who take all the donuts in the staff meeting because those who aren’t afraid to talk to you will ask for one? Check yourself dude. Serious privilege.

    • I have a condition that makes it hard to stand up for more than a few minutes (the blood goes to my feet and doesn’t come back up), so sitting is a VERY big deal for me. It’s serious enough that I would sometimes use a wheelchair if it weren’t so impossible to get around the city in one. But the condition is “invisible” — there’s no external marker that would show someone else that I’m handicapped. Even with all that, I almost never ask anyone to move from the handicapped seats so that I could sit. I don’t want to have to tell a stranger “I’m handicapped,” I suspect they’ll probably assuming you’re lying because you want the seat, I don’t know what “invisible” problems they might also be suffering, I don’t know if they’ll react badly, I’m tired and just don’t want to get into it, I’m a Midwestern female socialized never to make a scene, etc, etc, etc. I’ve often wished there was some signifier I could flash, and even considered bringing my car hang tag to show people so I felt ok asking. PLEASE, everyone, if you don’t need the handicapped seats, DON’T sit in them. Don’t just assume people will ask.

      (Side note: I’d like to give others the benefit of the doubt where youngish people with invisible disabilities are concerned, but my gray-haired mother who uses a cane has had the same problems. She has had young, presumably able-bodied people push past her to beat her to the seat or last space on the station elevator.)

      • I too need to sit while on the train. Iv’e had 3 knee surgeries, the last one left me with a plate and 5 screws holding my leg together. I’m 33 but look 18 (wink) no one would ever believe I need the disabled seat or a seat at all. I cant even begin to tell you how hard it is for me to stand when the train is moving. I completely agree and don’t judge disability based on looks. I think the big deal here is that he works for Metro.

        • Blithe

          I agree that one shouldn’t judge disability based on looks. What’s interesting — to me — is that the possibility that the Metro employee might be BOTH an active Metro employee and also someone who has physical concerns that might warrant sitting in a handicapped seat hasn’t come up in the comments. Many here have described “invisible” problems — that, in their view, might justify sitting in priority seat, but that are not incompatible with employment. I’m not making the assumption that the Metro employee pictured has some sort of temporary or permanent disability, but I’m also not going to make the assumption that he does not.

          • I am unaware of any disability that requires anyone, WMATA employee or otherwise, to put their bag on a seat, rather than a lap or floor.

          • I agree — but I don’t know that many people are complaining about him sitting in that seat. I think most of us are annoyed that his BAG is sitting in the OTHER seat when people are clearly standing.

          • Blithe

            dcd and FridayGirl, I get the annoyance about the bag, and I think that the multitudes have addressed that — so there’s really nothing that I wanted to add to that aspect of the discussion. My comment was a response to two previous posts with a different focus — including the issue of “invisible” disability, and my intent was to bring up a point that I hadn’t seen addressed in the comments.

          • justinbc

            @dcd maybe he has IBS and too much pressure on that region could cause unpleasantness for everyone around him?

      • justinbc

        You don’t live in the Midwest anymore, you live in a large urban city. Expecting the culture of a city to change and people just not sit in seats in crowded public transportation is just bad form. If you want the seat just go against your upbringing and ask for it.

        • Yeah but I’ll bet a significant proportion of people who live in DC are from the Midwest originally. Very few people are FROM this large urban city– plus, it’s really not that large ;). “When in Rome” shouldn’t apply to poor behavior.

          • This is just one of the many reasons that I’m glad I am from New Jersey. We are not socialized to suffer fools in silence, like they are in the Midwest. We don’t even have camouflage our irritation with a “well bless your heart” like they do in the South.

        • Ugh. MadMax, one of the points made was that people with disabilities shouldn’t have to explain to every Tom, Dick, and Harry what their condition is. They have a right to privacy. Even having to say something like “hey, I have a condition that is meant for that seat” is personal and tiresome to explain. Plus, odds are you’ll get a retort that says “so do I”, whether true or not.
          People are very quick to judge if someone is disabled “enough”.
          Thank you TW and SWChick for reminding us that we all need to be more thoughtful of others.

          • justinbc

            You don’t have to tell someone “excuse me I’m 4 months pregnant but haven’t told anyone yet!” in order to ask for a seat. Just ask for it, nobody’s asking for receipts.

      • Blithe

        On a practical note, after a recent injury, I used a cane for several weeks, then graduated to using a folding trekking pole that fits in my bag — just in case I need it. It’s light weight, inexpensive, and a visible symbol that someone using it might need a seat. I’ll add that my experience has been different from your mother’s, in that people, even rushing teenagers, have consistently offered me seats when they notice that I”m using a cane.

    • I absolutely always ask people to move their bags if I want to sit (politely, too!), and also ask people to move to I can get to the middle of the car/back of the bus when it is crowded. Yes, rude people who take up too much space suck, but nothing riles me more than when everyone just passive-aggressively, silently stares at the unused seat/free space in the middle of the car BUT SAYS OR DOES NOTHING. People will continue to behave this way if we let them.

    • Cool. I prefer to stand in front of people like you and fart like crazy! Have a great day!

  • I hate to see this myself but it is up to you to ask for the seat. Period, Period, Period. I see this all the time and never doubt to ask for it and I have never been turned down. People are clueless it is up to us to clue them in.

    • I’d agree if regarding the seat he’s actually sitting in, but just basic decency says to not occupy seats (handicapped or not) with a backpack when folks are standing.

    • Bigger question is why someone else gets to decide whether you get to sit there or not. So you’ve never been turned down? Is that even an option?

    • It is a pretty safe assumption that someone with their bag on the seat during rush hour is an antisocial a**hole, therefore you run a real risk of getting yelled at/having an unpleasant interaction if you ask him/her to move it. Lots of normal humans don’t have an appetite for conflict after a long day at work and would rather not risk it, and will therefore not say anything even if they want (or need!) the seat. TLDR if you have your bag on a seat when there are no open seats, you are a jerk, regardless of whether or not anyone has asked you to move it.

  • The horror!!! Did anyone… ya know.. ask if they could sit there?

    • Of course not. It would make more sense to publicly shame him on a local blog instead.

        • We don’t know the size and abilities of the poster. It’s not weak to not want to engage in a confrontation – it’s smart. If you could see the people who speak up and do something, I think you’d find they were generally physically capable of confrontations.

    • justinbc

      Person to person interactions are highly discouraged. I’m sure someone will write a post warning people about them.

    • Maybe they did, and got yelled at/ignored for their trouble. The kind of person who puts their bag on a seat in a crowded train is also the kind of person who is likely to respond aggressively/jerk-ishly if asked to move it.

  • Any grown adult who wanted or needed to sit there could ask him to move his bag, like we do with everyone else on Metro. Why complain through sneaky photos? Ask him to move.

    • C’mon, this is a common sense thing. No excuse for this lousy behavior. Yes, I am one of the people who has absolutely no problem asking for a seat if you have your bag rudely placed it in, but this shouldn’t be necessary with civilized people, who practice good etiquette. Also, I would not assume everyone thinks it is safe to ask for a seat. Unfortunately, I have read stories of people being harassed and/or assaulted for asking someone to move a bag. You’ve got aggressive people out there looking for a fight. This guy in particular (w/ his identifying uniform) might not be looking to fight, but others are.

    • I don’t want to have to ask permission to sit on a public seat. And that’s effectively what’s happening when someone spreads their belongings into public space. It’s rude. Plain, old-fashioned rude and entitled behavior

      • It’s definitely rude and entitled behavior, but if we want people to stop doing it, we need to be willing to ask them to move their stuff. Silently glaring/taking photos does nothing.

    • Also, helps normalize this behavior, seeing a metro employee engaging in it.

    • Then he should have moved it for the children.

      • When people get burglarized, do people complain about the passive-aggressive response? How about robbed? Which crimes are so minor it’s your job to address them to the perps exactly? I want to understand this perspective of “Don’t whine, confront the asshat yourself…”

  • Takers gonna take. With no consideration for social mores; no thought given to the needs of others; and no fucks given for anything other than me, ME, MEEEEEEEEE. People like this are a plague on society and civility.

    • Yup. ME FIRST! Then maybe you second, but only if you ask me.

    • Not really….I think people walking around on the street with no consideration for what side of the sidewalk they are on for example, is a much bigger issue

  • Am I misremembering, or didn’t WMATA do a campaign asking people to leave those seats free for the elderly, handicapped, et al.?
    It makes Metro look bad if its own personnel can’t be bothered to follow directives like this. Of course, Metro has made itself look bad in a variety of ways, so…

    • justinbc

      Yes, they encouraged nobody to sit there in case an elderly / blind / etc person wanted to use them without hassle.

  • All you have to do is say excuse me. Far quicker than taking a picture, formatting, uploading, crafting the narrative and posting to the net.

    • NO ONE should have his/her bag take up a seat on a crowded rush hour train.

      • Maybe it wasn’t crowded when he got on and he had been texting, blogging, you tubing and is oblivious to how crowded the train is AND no one bothered to attempt to sit in the seat

        • It’s a handicap seat. If you take the seat with your bum or your bag, you should be paying attention to see if someone might be in need of the seat and not oblivious to what’s going on around you. Especially metro employees.

          • +100. If you don’t feel like monitoring your surroundings don’t sit in the handicapped seats. AND take up both of them.*

            *unless he actually needs a handicapped seat (though his bag doesn’t need a handicapped seat)

    • You shouldn’t have to say excuse me. That dude only needs one seat for his business.

      • +1. No one should be doing this on a crowded train — especially not a Metro employee.

      • justinbc

        Whether or not someone should “have to” talk to another person is irrelevant. It’s a far more effective way of communicating than ranting on a blog.

        • It’s not irrelevant, it’s my main point. You’re talking about the issue of how to fix this particular instance of the problem, I’m talking about how not to have the problem in the first place.

    • I don’t get this. OP should get back to us if they witness anyone, station manager or otherwise, refusing to give up space to someone requesting a seat. I doubt that ever happens — even if the offender does feel put out they still likely move the bag and make room.

      Rider may have entered an empty train where it was a non-issue and the train later filled. Looks like he’s into his phone like 99% of other riders. BFD

      • It’s not unfair to ask people to exercise some self-awareness and move their damn bag if the train becomes crowded. That said, no problem with him sitting in the handicap seat unless someone needs it.

        • It’s not unfair to ask people to exercise some self awareness, but it’s not always gonna happen. When I have to head way out to the suburbs early in the morning, I may very easily get sucked into my book, phone, podcast, whatever and not notice the train has gotten full Just a quick “hey” will get you the seat. And usually an apology. NBD.

          • It’s easier just to put your bag on your lap in the first place — then you don’t have to remember to look around/pay attention later.
            Unless your bag is humongous, it’s usually not a hassle to place it on your lap. (I speak as someone who carries a bag that’s on the larger side, and occasionally humongous depending on what I’m carrying in it.)

          • I’ve been actually screamed at for politely asking if I could sit in a seat occupied by someone’s bag on metro, I imagine others have had the same happen. Now I don’t ask unless I really really want the seat. Not worth the risk of some unhinged person freaking the f out on you.

          • “Not worth the risk of some unhinged person freaking the f out on you.”
            Yup. I was called a cunt once for asking to sit in the LAST seat on the bus.

          • “Yup. I was called a cunt once for asking to sit in the LAST seat on the bus.”

            Jesus, that’s awful. What a way to start your day off : /

      • Actually that definitely does happen, and many (most?) people will just stand rather than run the risk of getting in a hostile encounter with some crazy person. That’s why it’s a jerk move to put your bag on the seat, even if no one asks you to move it.

    • I think this is beside the point. OP obviously didn’t send in this photo to popville to get this one guy to change his behavior. Rather, it was sent in to raise awareness and gauge reactions for/against this behavior imho.

      • justinbc

        Raise awareness? LOL.

        • Based on the number of rude, selfish, obnoxious people who believe that their bags are more important than other human beings, and that they can continue to inconvenience other people until asked not to, yes, I’d say raising awareness is an admirable goal.

          I feel the same way about people who block others by intentionally taking the aisle seat rather than sliding over to an empty window seat. If sitting by yourself is so important, then call an Uber. It’s called public transportation for a reason: it’s for everyone, not just the entitled, the self-indulgent, and the anti-social.

          • justinbc

            I stand corrected, that will definitely be rectified by this blog post.

          • If it gets even just NorthEazy — and/or any PoPville lurkers who also put their bags on a seat rather than in their lap — to reconsider/change that behavior, then that’s progress.

          • @MadMax, what else is Popville for? Raising awareness and having discourse about all manner of issues, ideas, goings on, etc…

            As an aside, your level of snark is impressive.

          • justinbc

            I’ve followed Northeazy’s posts enough to know that, if anything, this will only encourage him to double down.

      • Nicely put and observed Pleasanter.

  • Give the guy a break. After a hard day of refusing to make change and looking the other way while a steady stream of fare-jumpers strolls through the emergency gate, this man needs a little extra space to relax.

  • Rude and obnoxious to leave your bag on a seat. Know who I’m terrified of confronting in D.C. ? People who are rude and obnoxious. Likely to have a frightening encounter. Or worse.

  • Did anyone ask him to move his bag?

  • I raise you this: this morning around 10 am at the Petworth metro, three metro employees chatting, one LOUDLY bragging about how he used to fight pit bulls. In case I couldn’t hate the metro more.

  • It’s called being considerate to your fellow passengers. I would prefer to sit by myself as well but I would much rather someone be able to sit down after a long day of work than stand or be nervous about asking me to move my bag. If It’s a crowded train at rush hour, I never seat in the handicap seat no matter how tired I am or how much I want to because not everyone who is handicap, looks handicap and not every woman who is pregnant, looks pregnant yet.

  • Truly a First World Problem.

  • For people who are upset about bags on seats that part is indisputable here, but I think it’s an assumption that he doesn’t need the disabled seat. There are a lot of physical conditions that aren’t readily apparent but could make standing on a moving train difficult for someone. You just don’t know either way here. But overall I agree that just asking him to move his bag would have been a better approach than making an example of him or whatever this is intended to be.

    • Good point – I actually have a huge problem with people snapping photos of others in public for the purpose of posting them to the internet and publicly shaming them. If it’s important enough, then comment politely to the perceived offender. Imagine finding yourself slagged mercilessly on a website by complete strangers for a rather minor offense.

    • “just asking him to move his bag would have been a better approach than making an example of him or whatever this is intended to be.” — My assumption was that the OP wanted to raise awareness of the larger issue, not remedy this particular instance.
      If the publicity shames WMATA into reminding their employees to obey the directive THEY ISSUE TO EVERYONE about keeping the handicapped/disabled seats free, then I’d say mission accomplished.
      The photo doesn’t show the Metro station manager’s face. It’s possible he might recognize himself in this photo, but I doubt anyone else is going to recognize him. So this doesn’t really seem like “shaming” to me.

      • Agree completely with textdoc.

      • “If the publicity shames WMATA into reminding their employees to obey the directive THEY ISSUE TO EVERYONE about keeping the handicapped/disabled seats free, then I’d say mission accomplished.”
        You totally missed the point about whether he could actually have a need for disabled seating.

        • He might well have a need for disabled seating… but his bag does not. So either way, he’s not heeding Metro’s directive.

          • That is a good point and will just agree to disagree on whether this is the best way to address it.

      • Of all the things WMATA should be reminding their employees about, this would be near the bottom of my list.
        Also, guarantee that this post gets back to WMATA and that someone he works with recognizes him.

  • I’ve spent time in Philadelphia which has a reputation for being way more rude than DC. Batteries at a baseball game anyone? People ask others to move their bags all the time on the subway and it’s really not a big deal. Then again, I’ve noticed people in DC are very selective of who they sit beside on the Metro, more so than Philly or even NYC. All in all, if you want to sit down just ask.

    • Poor Philly is getting beaten up everywhere on sports talk today and they haven’t even done anything. FWIW, I’ve seen the Red Sox fans hurling batteries at players, too, so sports rage is alive and well all across cities.

    • I’ve seen plenty of people on the Metro, including surly teenagers, make room for someone on a seat next to them when asked to do so. When I had my foot in a boot, people routinely offered me their seats – and I’m a grown man. It’s really not a big deal in DC either – or at least, it doesn’t need to be a big deal. But if you’re looking for things to be outraged about, I guess this will do.

  • A “priority” seat is not required to be kept open for someone who is elderly or has a disability. It is supposed to be made available if an elderly or disabled person wants to use it. That could mean the person in the seat keeping an eye out for someone who gets on the train and is entitled to use the seat. Or, if he or she is not paying attention, moving when a person entitled to the seat asks to use it. According to the materials on Metro’s website, if someone with a disability gets on a Metrobus and someone who does not appear disabled is sitting in the priority seat, the driver is required to ask the person to move. The driver is not expected or empowered to force the issue. The materials say nothing about priority seats on trains, other than that they exist.

    • Again, I don’t think most people have a problem with the priority seat usage. Most people have a problem with his BAG using a priority seat when people are clearly standing….

    • “A ‘priority’ seat is not required to be kept open for someone who is elderly or has a disability.”
      Correct, but recent-ish Metro posters (and maybe in-car announcements too? I can’t remember…) have been urging people not to sit in those seats if they’re not elderly/disabled/pregnant/etc. Once they started that campaign, I made an effort not to sit in those seats.

  • Even on a near-empty train or bus, I make a point to choose the seat that’s blocked with someone’s stuff or their feet. It’s probably worst on Amtrak going to New York. There, women in their twenties use the trick of pretending to sleep on top of their backpacks in the seen next to them, at each station stop. No dice. “Hi, may I sit down? Thanks!” I’ll innocently chirp.

  • On a related note about the handicapped seats — about twice this month I’ve witnessed two different blind women get onto trains and make for where the handicapped seats should be and SHOULD be empty. In one instance, the one woman almost unknowingly sat on this one mom and 7yo kid sitting there (they quickly scooted one seat to the side without saying anything). In the other instance, it was a new car that had the wheelchair spot but not the handicapped seats in this particular area and the two people sitting in the seats perpendicular just blatantly ignored what was happening in front of them to offer the woman their seats. A man finally got up but not until right before the train started moving so the woman and her guide dog basically went flying. I had a blind coworker for a time and learned how isolating it is, and how stressful travel can be (I went with her through airport check-in/security before) and even just getting a cab, getting your bags to the ticket counter are a hassle. I was standing across the car from where these were both unfolding but have resolved next time to ask someone directly to give up their seat. People on Metro are often oblivious to the plights of others.