Monday, November 26, 2007

Politeness


My conscience pricked me when I saw him. But I told myself he probably wants to get off at the next stop. After all, I was sitting next to the exit door. There was nothing in his body language that showed signs of wanting to disembark, but I resolutely looked the other way. I told myself that I had a heavy bag to carry. Besides, there are about ten other people without luggage nearby. Anyone could give him a seat. The next stop came and went but the old man standing next to me was still there where I had last seen him.
He moved closer to a rod and clutched it with both hands. Then I saw that he had a bag to carry as well and he wasn’t very steady on his feet. I hesitated for about a second, then tapped him and motioned him to occupy the seat I vacated. I threw my bag on my shoulders and then stood at the spot he had been standing on. Well what do you think was the old man’s reaction? Forget a thank you or anything, he didn’t even smile! His expression said, “About time somebody did that”

After about 15-20 minutes when he had to get off, he promptly vacated the seat and another guy who had nudged in between in the meantime coolly sat down there. The point is, this new guy had seen me vacating my seat for the old man. He could’ve asked me to sit back there. Or the old man himself could’ve done so. But neither did. Not that it was really necessary for either of them to have done it, but it would have been a polite, civil thing to do so…

Sigh, I guess politeness has no rules….