So, yesterday I was coming back from the Mission, somewhat late (for us fourth-decaders anyway). The train was pretty empty when I sat down, and I pulled out my book and got to business. Now, I was sittting in the seat closest to the train door. This is just a habit of mine. I like to be near the exits. What this says about me I'm not sure. Of course on trains, buses, and other modes of public transport these seats are designated for the disabled and elderly. Now, I was raised right. If the train is crowded, I get up and offer my seat--no matter where I'm sitting--to the infirm or impregnated. In this way, I am like Jesus.
Anyway, I'm sitting in my seat, kind of engrossed in my book, and I don't notice that the train has started to fill up and in front of me is a pretty old lady talking with two of her friends, themselves in the designated seats directly opposite me. My head in my book, I feel a rough poke in my shoulder and I look up to a 30-something guy with a "what the fuck" look on his face, pointing to the old lady and then pointing to the the sign printed above my seat. My immediate reaction was embarrassment: I apologized. To the guy. And he still didn't say a word as I got up and moved. But here's the kicker. The guy was himself sitting in a seat five feet away from me, one not designated for people with special needs, granted, but one that was no less convenient for that old lady than mine--meaning, instead of offering his seat to the old lady who was standing equidistant from us both, he thought the best course of action was to shame me in a public train, and smug in his good citizenry, reassume his comfortable chair, as others stood around him. As I relocated, I noticed the train really wasn't totally full, and there were three or four other seats I could sit in. I took up one of them and stewed. I turned around, and saw that the old lady didn't sit down in the seat I'd abandoned.
I spent the next fifteen minutes to MacArthur thinking about what I'd say to the asshole good samaritan as I exited the train. Something like this: "You know, I'm the kind of guy who gets on an empty train, sits down and gets caught up in his book, and doesn't realize there's an old lady who maybe needs a seat. You're the kind of guy who can't be bothered to give up his own seat, but violently pokes strangers and embarrasses them for not following the letter of the law. Between us, who's the bigger asshole?"
But when my stop rolled around. That guy wasn't sitting there anymore. The train had pretty much cleared out (at 12th Street-Oakland), except for a few stragglers. Including the old lady, who was still standing, contentedly, as I left.