When it’s a quarter past eleven at night, I think it’s safe to say that none of us are riding the subway for the sheer joy of it.
I think it’s also safe to say that at that point, we’re feeling the wear and tear of the day. The hours. You know, all the ones that have passed since we climbed out of bed that morning.
And the thing about the subway is, the seats are limited. There are only so many bones that can settle comfortably on the benches the MTA so graciously provides. I get that. When they’re full, then you stand. You practice gratitude for being able to stand. I mean, that’s something. And well, something is something.
You can’t argue with that.
But what I don’t understand is why people don’t try to make life a little more pleasant for everyone, when they’ve the power to do so. Seriously, it baffles me.
When I am on my way home. Finally. And I see that the benches aren’t, in fact, packed. The people sitting on them don’t resemble sardines at all. How nice. Room for more, then, is what I realize as I walk over to the open space.
I stand there and expect the lady to scoot over. I mean, it’s scoot-able, you know? There’s some wiggle room to her right–enough to, should she choose to wiggle that way–create a whole other seat on the bench.
I stand, she perfunctorily ignores me.
So I try the next move in this game and say, “Excuse me.”
The lady will not budge.
I say it again.
Finally, she looks at me coldly and says, “Do you not see the woman next to me?”
And yes, I do see that woman. She has some scoot room, too, that she’s not taking advantage of. In fact, if they both scooted, there could be as much as two new seats for the world to enjoy.
The woman puts her headphones back in her ears and with that, ends the conversation.
I walk back to the pole and hold on. I wonder why the lady has to be so mean. I wonder why she can’t do one scoot. Just one small scoot.
Finally, the seat on the other side of the wiggle room opens up and I sit down. I scoot as close to the edge as possible. I make enough room for another seat. I allow myself a smile as somebody new takes advantage of my scoot and sits in the spot where I was trying to squeeze in earlier.
But couldn’t, cause the lady wouldn’t scoot.
But now I’m on the scene and I scoot enough for someone to squeeze between us, me and the un-scoot able lady.
She’s a little squished; I’m a little squished. But three of us are sitting, so it’s worth it, right?
I think so.