Standing for…something

You’re probably getting tired of hearing about my commuter train rides, but here goes another one. Feel free to skip this post and come back tomorrow.

I get on the train in the morning at the end of the line, so getting a seat is never an issue. Coming home is another matter altogether. It’s a rare day when there’s an empty seat waiting for me when I get on to go home. Usually I end up standing for up to two-thirds of the trip before a seat opens up. I’m usually not alone, either.

I’ve begun to notice an odd phenomenon (doot dooo, da doo doot!) lately. Often I’ll get on the train to find some men already standing, or at the same time as other men who stand with me. As seats open up I hold back, waiting for the men who were already on the train to get first shot, or letting men who got on the same time have a chance first. It’s rare when someone will take it. Most men, if they start their trip standing, will remain standing throughout.

I suppose they could just like standing. I don’t. It’s uncomfortable, and you get a bit tossed around. You lose feeling in your arm from holding onto the strap or pole. If you’re carrying a bag or something it gets a little heavy after a while. And it seems a bit of a coincidence that people who got on the same time as me all like to stand.

Is it an ego thing? No one wants to be the first guy to admit “I’m not tough enough to ride twenty miles standing up on a train”? No one wants to be seen as being the “grabby” one who takes the first open seat? Are they holding back in case a woman or someone elderly comes on the train?

Maybe. I notice, though, that few new people who gets on the train after a seat opens up has a problem just taking it.

I suppose I fall into the “don’t want to be grabby” category. I will, if several stops go by and no one has taken one of the empty seats, go sit in one. I’m not proud. I don’t like standing up and waving about with the starts and stops, jolts and jogs along the way. I’m happy to clear out if a woman or elderly person gets on. I would just rather sit.

Another possibility is that these people just don’t like sitting with strangers. The bench seats can fit two people. Most people, if someone in a spot by the window leaves the train, will slide over toward the window and open up the spot on the aisle. But most of these upstanding citizens won’t take a seat until a full bench opens up, if ever.

It’s true that there’s more personal space if you stand. But still, I’d rather sit.