People are stupid part 2

On the occasions I take the bus into work rather than walking, which as the weather gets colder becomes more frequent, I am frustrated by the number of people who will not sit in a vacant seat when the bus is crowded. I assume this stems from the terror that if you take a seat you will be judged if there is anyone who might have had more need of that seat than you. Fair enough, the polite thing to do is to look around and see if there is anyone currently standing who might want the seat more. But if no one claims it, and/or any ‘worthier’ candidates refuse the offer then the sensible and altruistic thing to do is to sit in it yourself. You take up less space sitting in a seat which is empty than standing by it and contributing to the crush of bodies. This includes going upstairs to sit down. On several occasions I have been forced to stand at the front of a bus, unable to move back as far as the stairs for a couple of stops, until I finally squeeze past the stairwell to find the top deck was empty.

Actually this also reminds me of a psychological test done on monkeys. 4 monkeys are out in a cage with a button which delivers food when pressed. They get used to pushing the button and food comes out. After a while the food button is disconnected from the feeder, and connected to a jet of water. The monkeys push the button and get squirted. So they stop pressing the button. Then one monkey gets replaced by a monkey from a different cage, who has learned to associate the button with food. New Monkey goes to push the button, and gets jumped on by the 3 Old Monkeys, preventing him from pressing it. Another monkey gets substituted, the 2nd New Monkey tries the same thing. The 2 Old Monkeys and the 1st New monkey jump on the 2nd New Monkey to stop him from pressing the button. After 2 more substitutions there are no original monkeys left. Then another substitution is made, and another new hungry monkey tries to get food. In the test the other 3 monkeys in the cage, none of whom at this point have experienced the jet of water for themselves, will still prevent the newest monkey from pressing the button. They have no idea what will happen if the button is pressed, they have just learned the behaviour that anyone attempting to press the button is to be stopped.

So each time I manage to get past a crowd of irate Londoners to find that the top deck of the bus has seats I think of the monkeys. I suppose I should be grateful that the typical commuter hasn’t yet resorted to flinging around their own faeces.

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  1. I heartily agree with all you say Liz. I always ‘excuse’ myself past crowds of ditherers to find most of the seats at the back of the bus vacant. The only obstacles which remain are those startled passengers who had not counted on the fact someone might sit in the seat next to them.

    Indeed, another pet hate of mine is those people who sit in the aisle seat forcing anyone who wants to sit down to ask them to move. They will claim that people can ask if they wish to sit in the neighbouring seat but why not just sit in it in the first place allowing everyone the easiest route to a comfortable journey? I make a point of finding my way to the farthest, most inaccessible seats for this very reason and I have never experienced any problems.

    In both scenarios it is the case that people build up a formless threat in their mind which must not be disturbed and then protect it by acting in odd or even anti-social ways. Wankers

  2. *raises hand*

    I’m one of those people, both from the post and the comment.

    I can’t easily use bus stairs, or inside seats, or middle of tube train (away from the poles) seats. (I also can’t stand in lots of places, but that’s because I’m a short arse so can’t reach the straps/ceiling pole).

    I have noticed that once 1 person is standing (so, me), others won’t use the seats… Like I’m avoiding them because they’re wet, or electrified, or “insert random reason they assume I’m standing”

    In reality it’s because my hip still hasn’t healed fully, and it’s sometimes/often more painful for me to sit than to stand and lean, than to deal with badly designed chairs and/or people knocking me as they fidget

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