Monday, July 19, 2010

Hog Calling

Today's Washington Post had an great article about a public transportation phenomenon that we all know and loathe: the seat hog.  These delightful individuals "place purses, briefcases, feet or wet umbrellas on seats next to them in jammed trains" and buses, I might add.  Their sense of entitlement knows no bounds.  I mean, sure, your backpack is really tired after a long day of hauling around your stuff, and that old lady standing in the aisle is probably going to die soon anyway, so go ahead, take that extra seat. 

The Post article also alludes to the fact that civility has gone the way of the air conditioned Metro car.  As George Costanza would say, "We're living in a society!"  So why aren't we acting like it?  I'll be the first to admit that I'd rather not sit squished up against another rider, particularly in these 90+ degree days.  But odds are pretty good that it's not fun for them either.  What's the solution?  We've got to call people on it.  You can do it with a smile, a polite word.  Or, if that doesn't work, why not stoop to ridiculous and give a little call of "Sooooeeeey!"  I bet that'd get the asses (or hogs, as it were) out of their seats.  And if you do use the hog call to get a seat, please get video.

The article also pointed out that some people are a little to timid to say, "Excuse me, can I sit there?" This fascinates me. As a city girl through and through, I can't imagine standing idly by, swaying in the aisle while there's an empty seat. Sure, you might get the stinkeye from the guy who has to move his newspaper or the lady who's purse was having a rest, but who cares? You're not there to make friends . . . you're there to get from point A to point B. It's public transportation . . . that seat is every bit as much yours as it is anyone else's. Are these the same people who wait quietly behind the people who stand on the left of the escalator, hoping that maybe they'll get a clue by osmosis and move to the right? To those timid few, I say buck up! Grow a pair . . . and if that doesn't work, there's always the hog call method of seat selection.


  1. Native Washingtonians know how to ride public transportation. Back in the day, I learned everything I ever needed to know by taking a "30" bus downtown. For instance, you never ever took the first seat on the bus - you moved to the back of the bus and let the old lady have the front seat. If you didn't, someone would call you out and you would move. What happened to that community, people who let you know you weren't doing the right thing and expected you to follow the rules. This isn't rocket science.

  2. I rarely take public transportaion, but did so this week. I was guilty of leaving my purse on the seat next to me! But when the announcement came over the speaker, telling me not to do that, I moved it! Oh, and the announcement wasn't directly *at* me. It was general. But I knew they were talking about me.

    But what about the other thing we saw and discussed: many many empty seats and a woman *chose* to sit right next to someone instead of taking an empty bench.

    xo Susie