Wednesday 19 March 2008


While sitting on the Luas yesterday afternoon a lady got on who, although not elderly, was certainly a good deal older than me. If I had to guess, I would have put her at 50-ish - although maybe she wasn't dressing to advantage, I don't know.

Just as I was standing up to politely offer her my seat, the guy across the aisle tapped her on the shoulder saying "Excuse me, there is a seat here if you would like it?". He didn't suggest she should take it because she was old or feeble looking (she wasn't), he just indicated it was free. Surprisingly, his offer gave rise to some indignation on her part - presumably she didn't think she was at a stage in her life when she should be offered seats on public transport.

So assuming you want to be polite while causing the least offence, exactly how old does somebody on public transport have to look before you can safely offer them your seat? Has it got to the stage where its best to just vacate the seat and hope that (a) the person sees and takes it and (b) they get there before some thoughtless street urchin?


Sam, Problemchildbride said...

She was obviously just an ungracious ill-mannered woman. I wouldn't worry for a minute about what offence she took. The fella was trying to be nice, for crying out loud. It's rare enough to find that without being churlish about it.

-Ann said...

Several years ago, I had the same reaction from a guy on an el train in Chicago. He was probably in his 60s. I was in my 20s, so that made him older than my parents, which made him someone I felt I owed such a courtesy.

Maybe his issue was that I was a woman, I don't know. He was a bit indignant in his refusal. I'd say the way to do it is to get up and say "It's nearly my stop, would you care for my seat." and then move up the train car until you're out of sight. (which, on a crowded luas, shouldn't be very far)

Medbh said...

It happens all the time here in Toronto. People just ask "would you like to sit down?" Then folks say yes or no. When I'm loaded with shopping bags I would kill for a seat. Otherwise, I don't mind standing.

Lou said...

Check the shoes. If the woman looks elderly but is still making an attempt at a heel, then she views herself as young, and would be mortally offended.
If she's given up and succumbed to the 'nun shoes', she would probably like the seat.

The Bad Ambassador said...

That's a great rule of thumb Lou.

I will commit that to memory for future reference.