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.