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Source: (consider it) Thread: How would you read this?
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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I've a question about what was actually going on in a situation a couple weeks ago, and would welcome your ideas on it.

My family went off to physical therapy together and got there with about half an hour of waiting to do before they could take any of us. The waiting room was set up with two straight rows of three chairs each, the rows forming an L-shape.

Two women, both in their sixties, white, able-bodied, were sitting there, each in the middle chair of their respective rows. One had placed her coat and other belongings in the chair next to her; the chair on the other side had some paper in it, and I could not be sure whether the paper belonged to her (or someone else) or not.

The other woman had put her belongings in both empty chairs in her row.

Their apparent age/class/background would suggest that they had had the usual training in common courtesy.

We entered the room, talked to the receptionist, and were told to wait (as everyone could clearly hear). This was myself (50 year old white woman), my husband (70 year old Vietnamese) and our son, who is 16.

We looked at the chairs, and both women looked at us. After a minute or so, the second woman picked up a clipboard of papers and began filling it out, leaving that chair (immediately beside her) empty and theoretically available. The other woman did nothing at all.

For the next 30 minutes or so, my family continued to stand uncomfortably, shifting our weight, while two women occupied all the space (bar that one chair). This was particularly tough for me, as I cannot stand for very long. After about 20 minutes another man of Middle Eastern extraction, about 50, came in and proceeded to stand also. Neither woman made any attempt to move their belongings, to address us, or to acknowledge the situation in any way.

I said nothing, as I was afraid I'd rip some heads off. I certainly did not sit in the only chair on offer, as it would have left the rest of my family standing.

Now it seems to me that the unwritten rules of how people in this (US) culture occupy space would have basically forced the old ladies to at least move their belongings, and very likely to move themselves to one end of their respective rows. That they totally failed to do this (despite four people standing) says to me that there was some powerful motivation preventing them.

Pray tell, what would you think it was?

[ 02. January 2018, 00:36: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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Whenever that happens to me, I simply say, "Excuse me, but may I sit down, please?

If the woman were to refuse, I would say, "Oh, I didn't realize your purse had an appointment to see the doctor. How stupid of me." and proceed to move the purse myself.

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"Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your praise bands." -- Amos 5:23, Good News Bible (modified)

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Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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If it were me, I would have asked them to move their stuff. (If they got stroppy, I would have appealed to the nurse/office people. They have put those chairs out for all their clientele, after all.)

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Ian Climacus

Liturgical Slattern
# 944

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I think it is either (1) rudeness or (2) obliviousness - perhaps they're there for their memory pills. I assume it was not racism, but given they'd already claimed the seats it's harder to tell than if they picked their bags off the floor and put them on the seats as your husband walked in.

I have seen people go for the middle chairs in a waiting area recently too. They had the courtesy to shift along when I (40, white) came in.

Sorry you had to experience that. You're politer than I; I would've gone up and said, "Excuse me; I'd like that seat."

Posts: 7695 | From: Albury, Australia | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Nick Tamen

Ship's Wayfaring Fool
# 15164

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quote:
Originally posted by Amanda B. Reckondwythe:
Whenever that happens to me, I simply say, "Excuse me, but may I sit down, please?

If the woman were to refuse, I would say, "Oh, I didn't realize your purse had an appointment to see the doctor. How stupid of me." and proceed to move the purse myself.

[Overused]

I usually go with “Excuse me, but is someone sitting in these seats?” I like them to have them acknowledge that no one is.

Okay, so maybe a little passive aggressive. That’s not always a bad thing. [Two face]

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

Posts: 2650 | From: On heaven-crammed earth | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
churchgeek

Have candles, will pray
# 5557

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A complete lack of empathy one way or another.

It's entirely possible they're just so full of privilege it didn't occur to them to move their stuff.

They might have expected that if you all wanted to sit down, you'd ask them to move it. Although that would strike me as odd.

I don't know what part of the US you're in, but it could be there was some racism involved, but like others have said, since their stuff was already spread out like that, it's not easy to tell.

I imagine it's possible they also might have both been somewhere on the spectrum, and so didn't think to move their stuff, but would've if you'd asked.

Then again, if one of them didn't move their stuff, that could be part of the reason the other one didn't, either.

It's hard for me to imagine, because I often keep all my stuff on my own lap even if there is no demand for the chairs around me, just in case! But I've also seen young people at bus stops or on buses keep their seats while older, visibly disabled people stand. (The one time I was in a position to, I asked the man with the cane if he'd like to sit - I was going to tell those kids to let him have a seat - but he said no. I think he would have liked to sit, but didn't want to make a scene.)

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I reserve the right to change my mind.

My article on the Virgin of Vladimir

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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Maybe there was racism involved. It sounds mostly like a case of extreme entitlement.

I would have asked them if we could sit down. Had they failed to move their things, I would have spoken to the folks at the desk - who, if they'd been on top of their games, would have noticed you standing around uncomfortably and asked the women to free up those chairs on their own.

Pardon the emoticon, but [Mad] .

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I'm not dead yet.

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Augustine the Aleut
Shipmate
# 1472

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I assure you that this is not exclusively a US phenomenon. I frequently encounter it in both anglophoneo and francophone Canada.

I do not know if it is obliviousness, rudeness, or entitlement, or a mix of them, and I do not particularly care. One of the advantages of a whitening beard is that I can head for the purse-laden chair and ask if it is already taken by someone with the implication that I might collapse in a heap if I am required to stand. The purse is almost always removed. If I am to ethnically stereotype, South Asians and aboriginal persons are usually the readiest to surrender the seat and are the most helpful.

There is also an Ottawa phenomenon of people occupying the aisle seat in the bus, ensuring that the window seat remains vacant. In my dotage I have become mischievous and spy out the most glowering of the seat-blockers and approach them with a cheerful "Beg pardon, comrade, but is that seat taken?" The glares I receive could fell an elephant, but the seat is always yielded. If I might ethnic-stereotype again, older black women are the worst and grumpiest offenders, and younger black men the most apologetic.

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Nicolemr
Shipmate
# 28

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It happens all the time in buses that people put their purse, or shopping bag or etc on the seat next to them, or just sit in suck a way that they block two or more seats. I don't think it's racism, it's asshole-ry. On the bus I avoid situations like that if I can, but if there's no other place to sit I'll say "Excuse me" and look pointedly at the object occupying the seat, and that usually gets the point across.

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On pilgrimage in the endless realms of Cyberia, currently traveling by ship. Now with live journal!

Posts: 11728 | From: New York City "The City Carries On" | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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LC, the thought occurs that the use of a cane might (a) help you get around and stand when needed, and (b) be a useful prop for guilt-tripping offenders. (I have a spare if you need one.)

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I'm not dead yet.

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Ohher
Shipmate
# 18607

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I always ask, "Are you saving this seat for someone? Because I need to sit down."

It is possible these women were waiting for someone who was in getting their therapy. Thing is, though, that person is unlikely to be resuming their waiting room seat when they're done; they're going to pay or set up the next appointment or whatever and then get the hell out of there together with their less-than-considerate buddies.

It's some mix of entitlement, gormlessness, and bad manners.

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From the Land of the Native American Brave and the Home of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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My observation is that this kind of thing is getting worse as baby-boomers, in particular, age.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Baptist Trainfan
Shipmate
# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
There is also an Ottawa phenomenon of people occupying the aisle seat in the bus, ensuring that the window seat remains vacant.

Not just Ottawa, I assure you!

Judging by peoples' behaviour, I sometimes wonder if theatre tickets have the following information printed on them:

(a) This seat is by an aisle. Please ensure you sit down as early as possible.

(b) This seat is in the centre of a row. Please ensure that you arrive just as the performance is beginning.

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M.
Ship's Spare Part
# 3291

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Travelling on trains every day going to work, in England at least, it's just routine to ask politely, 'Excuse me, is anyone sitting there, please?'

I'm slightly surprised you perceived it as a problem, Lamb Chopped, would it have been culturally inappropriate to ask? I have always thought that Americans were much politer than we on this side of the Pond.

M.

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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Yep.

I’d have very politely asked them to move their stuff. If they had ignored me I would have moved it for them.

Rude people [Roll Eyes]

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
LC, the thought occurs that the use of a cane might (a) help you get around and stand when needed, and (b) be a useful prop for guilt-tripping offenders. (I have a spare if you need one.)

Yesterday I saw a super contraption - a cane/seat combo. A bloke was putting it to good effect in a crowded bus stop
[Smile]

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Garden. Room. Walk

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mr cheesy
Shipmate
# 3330

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In a general way, I think people have been socially trained to take chances and to basically only respond to direct challenge in many White cultural situations.

I suspect these people, if they noticed you at all, would simply think to themselves that you'd have say down if you wanted to, and so a lack of that response was an indication that you didn't want to.

Which might not be deliberate racism, but perhaps shows that people with different cultural backgrounds and experiences have different understandings of personal space, modesty, politeness etc.

Around here we have the opposite problem. Personal space is sometimes considered not to exist and personal property is considered public. A waiting room chair is public space, so I think rather than standing a patient would have just picked up the handbag, handed it to the lady and made some remark about their ailment (and/or the ailment of a family member, friend or neighbour's cat).

People are often considered to be friendly around here, so sitting close and launching into loud personal conversation is perfectly normal.

Oddly, it doesn't seem to apply to buses - one can be talking loudly on a busstop to a stranger about bunions, but as soon as the bus arrives, that inhibition is suddenly broken. One would not normally continue with the same conversation on the bus, although starting another with a different stranger is perfectly acceptable.

People are weird.

[ 02. January 2018, 08:07: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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arse

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Enoch
Shipmate
# 14322

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If the receptionist was in the same room, shouldn't they have intervened to tell them to shift their bits and pieces to make room for you?

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Tortuf
Ship's fisherman
# 3784

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To my mind they were wanting to keep their stuff off of themselves and the floor. It may have given them a twinge of guilt to see you three wanting seats. Apparently not enough guilt.

It is easy enough to not be there in person and suggest asking politely for them to allow you to have a seat. That is harder than it sounds when you are actually there in person addressing a stranger.

I would like to imagine doing that and then taking their stuff and handing it to them if they didn't reply, but I don't know if that is what I would actually do.

I guess there is some consolation in not lowering yourself to their level.

My youngest would probably fart enough to drive them off.

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mr cheesy
Shipmate
# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
If the receptionist was in the same room, shouldn't they have intervened to tell them to shift their bits and pieces to make room for you?

I've never seen a receptionist take any notice of anyone who isn't actually standing in front of them.

That said, I suppose I've not been waiting in many waiting room situations.

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arse

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Aravis
Shipmate
# 13824

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Personally I would read their response as neutral; not particularly considerate, but not actively negative.

In your situation I would have asked the woman if she could move her belongings so that we could all sit down. I'm not sure why that was difficult for you to do? Without asking if you could sit down, it's anyone's guess why one of them didn't move things for you.

Some possible negative reasons could be:
Racism
Ageism (assuming you and your husband would take the free seats and your son was young enough to stand)
General selfishness
Lack of awareness of others

But some other reasons could be:
Anxiety re cultural norms - might have thought your husband was reluctant to sit next to a stranger of the opposite sex
She had general anxiety about close contact with others
She had a cold or something infectious
She didn't know whether you actually wanted to sit down (not everyone does; about 15 years ago I had severe pain in my hip area for a few days which was mild when standing, disappeared when lying but was severe when sitting, which was embarrassing in the waiting room as I remained standing, which made me look impatient)

Posts: 666 | From: S Wales | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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quote:
Originally posted by Nicolemr:
It happens all the time in buses that people put their purse, or shopping bag or etc on the seat next to them, or just sit in such a way that they block two or more seats.

When I lived in New York, I used to hate it that people would stand directly in front of the exit door regardless of how full the bus or train car was. Or on buses, that people would stand at the front of the aisle rather than move to the back and make room for more passengers.

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"Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your praise bands." -- Amos 5:23, Good News Bible (modified)

Posts: 10402 | From: The Great Southwest | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
LC, the thought occurs that the use of a cane might (a) help you get around and stand when needed, and (b) be a useful prop for guilt-tripping offenders. (I have a spare if you need one.)

Yesterday I saw a super contraption - a cane/seat combo. A bloke was putting it to good effect in a crowded bus stop
[Smile]

I went to the museum in Avignon, a vast sprawling affair with concrete floors. And they offer these cane-seats to patrons! I instantly availed myself of one and happily sat to read labels, admire Roman artifacts, etc.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Eliab
Host
# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I said nothing, as I was afraid I'd rip some heads off.

Why didn't you ask before getting angry about it? It's not usually considered rude to ask "Is this seat taken?".

(If you want to be rude without getting angry you can always quote St Beyoncé after taking over an unoccupied seat - if you liked it, then you should have put your ring on it).

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Honest Ron Bacardi
Shipmate
# 38

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I can't offer any insight into why they set up this state of affairs. It seems to be distinctly guesswork to try. Why they didn't spontaneously remove their clutter when you arrived is another matter, as is why nobody challenged them.

What has emerged is that there's a lot of cultural conventions in here. Anyone commuting into a crowded metropolis will face a similar situation quite often I suspect. Certainly when it's happened to me, a quick "Is anybody sitting there?" has always done the trick, save for when they are genuinely saving a seat for someone following along behind.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

Posts: 4825 | From: the corridors of Pah! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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Six of one and half a dozen of the other. They weren't considerate enough to move their stuff when they saw you standing there. But none of you were assertive enough to ask them politely to do so.

In your position I would have waited nicely for a few minutes and then asked one of them to move so you could all sit down. If they'd made a thing of it, I'd have got the nurse.

I use public transport all the time. I'm don't pay the kind of money that a commute into London costs to stand whilst someone's bag gets a seat.

[ 02. January 2018, 14:46: Message edited by: Tubbs ]

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

Posts: 12670 | From: Someplace strange | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Baptist Trainfan
Shipmate
# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Amanda B. Reckondwythe:
When I lived in New York, I used to hate it that people would stand directly in front of the exit door regardless of how full the bus or train car was. Or on buses, that people would stand at the front of the aisle rather than move to the back and make room for more passengers.

I went to a fireworks display in Caerphilly, taking the local train to avoid the traffic. When it arrived, it seemed full - but in fact all the standing passengers were crowding around the doors. I haven't lived in London for nothing, so I said in a loud voice, "Could you please move down the carriage, there are people trying to get on". They did. Sadly this didn't work for Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson recently.

(What I wanted to say was, "Please move right down the car and use all available spaces ... This train is now ready to depart, stand clear of the closing doors"). P.S. I also get annoyed with folk who stop at the very bottom of escalators or just outside shop doors to dig around in their bag or make a phone call, but rarely say anything.

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:

(What I wanted to say was, "Please move right down the car and use all available spaces

The problem is that trains or buses where people are "using all available spaces" are over-full to the point where they lose functionality. With all the seats taken, and perhaps one or two people standing, it's still easy to get off when you want to. With the aisles packed with standing people, it's very much harder to get off if you have moved right down the car, particularly if you have a bag or two with you.

And if you're a person standing on a train, it is rather annoying to have your ankles repeatedly banged by the bag of someone who is trying to squeeze through the crowd and get off.

The efficient behaviour is for people who have a long way to go to move down the car, and people who are only going a couple of stops, or who have sizable bags, to hang out by the door. (Actually, designating sets of doors as "entrance" or "exit" doors, so as to generate a flow of people through the carriage, would be even better, except that someone is bound to screw it up.)

Posts: 4932 | From: USA | Registered: Feb 2013  |  IP: Logged
Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
I said in a loud voice, "Could you please move down the carriage, there are people trying to get on". They did.

I tried that once in New York, and the only response I got was from some strumpet blocking the door who retorted: "Oh, look, a conductor!"

quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
With the aisles packed with standing people, it's very much harder to get off if you have moved right down the car.

In which case one slowly but deliberately works one's way toward the exit several stops before one's stop.

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"Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your praise bands." -- Amos 5:23, Good News Bible (modified)

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Baptist Trainfan
Shipmate
# 15128

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Welcome to the delights of city transport! (And don't even think of Lisbon's No.38 bus in pre-Metro days).
Posts: 9579 | From: The other side of the Severn | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I said nothing, as I was afraid I'd rip some heads off.

Why didn't you ask before getting angry about it? It's not usually considered rude to ask "Is this seat taken?".

(If you want to be rude without getting angry you can always quote St Beyoncé after taking over an unoccupied seat - if you liked it, then you should have put your ring on it).

Okay, time to explain more.

There was a very emotionally charged atmosphere the moment we walked in. Seriously, you could feel the vibes. I wrote the OP as neutrally as I could in the hopes that you all could convince me what I thought was happening was NOT happening--that this was not in fact a case of racism. And no, I don't see racism under every bush, but you should have felt the charge in that place (conveyed mainly by body language). It was something else.

I didn't speak up (as I normally would have) because within the first thirty seconds my temper had gone from amiable to infernal, and I didn't trust myself not to rip heads off. I rarely react that way (see "charged atmosphere" above). If I were to do it again, I'd do the same. Chewing up elderly ladies is not a good look.

Some of you have asked about the receptionist. The clinic expects the receptionist to be general assistant/dogsbody for the therapists in the back whenever she's not actually dealing with a patient. That means that nobody's manning the desk and you have to summon her with a bell. So no, she'd not have noticed the situation, or she'd have said something, sensible person that she is!

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Oh, FWIW--I too have had to deal with the airplane/bus seat hoggers, and they don't infuriate me the way these people did. Minor annoyance if anything.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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In view of that, I think that whatever the truth of the matter, it's going to be impossible to convince you that it wasn't racism.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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This is probably the most British complaint I've ever read.

And yet...

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Forward the New Republic

Posts: 8976 | From: Ultima Thule | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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No. I was dithering fifty fifty before Eliab's post.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
lilBuddha
Shipmate
# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:

There was a very emotionally charged atmosphere the moment we walked in. Seriously, you could feel the vibes.

This is something that most white people will not experience and certainly not on a regular basis. Most brown people living in white societies will all too often.
Though it is still impossible to know, this makes the concern of racism more reasonable, IME.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

Posts: 17231 | From: the round earth's imagined corners | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Ross, that was a good idea about the cane. I borrow my husband's on occasion, though I do better with a stick (weak wrist joint).

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Though it is still impossible to know, this makes the concern of racism more reasonable, IME.

It's almost certainly the case. But I can't see how that can be determined from this discussion.

The bigger challenge is how to respond appropriately.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

Posts: 17513 | From: 528491 | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It's almost certainly the case.

???

not sure what you mean...

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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I wouldn't be at all suprised if it was racism pure and simple.

However, I don't see how all of us on here and not in the room can be expected to gauge that, impartially, from your account.

If you were seeking confirmation from all of us that it was probably racism, I think you've got it. The question then becomes: what is the best way of responding?

It seems to me that you either have to put up with it or find a way of responding that is assertive without being explosive. We can explore that here, but I'm not sure what else we can do within this context.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
LC, the thought occurs that the use of a cane might (a) help you get around and stand when needed, and (b) be a useful prop for guilt-tripping offenders. (I have a spare if you need one.)

Yesterday I saw a super contraption - a cane/seat combo. A bloke was putting it to good effect in a crowded bus stop
[Smile]

I went to the museum in Avignon, a vast sprawling affair with concrete floors. And they offer these cane-seats to patrons! I instantly availed myself of one and happily sat to read labels, admire Roman artifacts, etc.
Here it is - very clever.

cane/seat

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Garden. Room. Walk

Posts: 12811 | From: Boogie Wonderland | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Basically I was hoping someone would come up with an insight that would convince me I was wrong--or at least partially so. I figured that since it was still bugging me a week later (was it really racism? Am I just not seeing something?) the Ship would be the place where I'd get the largest range of opinions. As for how to respond, the situation is done already. If I didn't respond as well as I might have, I also didn't respond as ... poorly ... as I might have, and I'll take that.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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Aha. You approach one of the women and politely ask - using one of the form of words already suggested - for the seat at the end of the row. White woman to white woman, shouldn’t be a problem. You then solicitously settle your husband on the seat. Repeat with the other woman and either occupy it yourself or put your son on it. By now, with any luck, they will be huddling together on adjacent chairs in the middle, very possibly freeing up one or more of the remaining seats.
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Lucia

Looking for light
# 15201

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I suppose my question in this is whether there were assumptions going on. There was a chair available once the woman moved the papers but none of you sat down upon it. It is possible that this could be taken as meaning that the members of your family did not wish to sit. In effect there was unoccupied space available, so no need to move the belongings until it becomes clear that the space is needed? Perhaps it would not occur to them that none of you would choose to sit unless you all did? A bit of a blinkered assumption, but possible.
However if there was something going on in their reactions to your family that implied something else then that's another matter.

Posts: 1070 | From: Nigh golden stone and spires | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Lucia--could be. Firenze--yeah, I didn't think about settling my husband (rather like a maitre d'!) first. He of course would not sit while I was standing, and I would not sit while the rest of my family was expected to stand (with chairs available), and so on, and so on... Really, I felt I couldn't take that one seat next to woman #2 because it seemed to be grudgingly made available, like "Okay, you're a misguided white woman married to an Asian, but I'll make room for you (and you only)".

It just felt like I would have been making myself bloody complicit.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

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I would have sat in the free chair, and the chances are, the lady would be uncomfortable enough to move. If not, I have my ways.

It is rude. It is always a challenge to identify the right chair to take in a particular situation. As a rule, the chair most distant from any other person is correct, but they hadn't taken into account more people. When the free chair was taken, I would have picked up the bag on one of the remaining chairs, and gone to open it (as if to see who it belonged to, as it was clearly not anyone there). They would probably then claim it.

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Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

Posts: 18734 | From: At the bottom of a deep dark well. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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[Snigger] I keep [Eek!] when you folks talk about picking up or looking in people's bags. Round here that would probably be met with a gun (JUST KIDDING) (but still)

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20020 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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I agree that it's probably better to exercise discretion when it comes to other people's bags. I might, in a situation like that one, pick one up and put it on the floor; I would not open it.

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I'm not dead yet.

Posts: 14880 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Eliab
Host
# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
There was a very emotionally charged atmosphere the moment we walked in. Seriously, you could feel the vibes. I wrote the OP as neutrally as I could in the hopes that you all could convince me what I thought was happening was NOT happening--that this was not in fact a case of racism.

I'll try.

This was a medical facility of some sort, right?

It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that an elderly woman waiting for medical treatment might be emotionally charged for reasons that have nothing to do with the presence of a mixed race family in the waiting room.

The anxiety might not even have anything to do with health. Maybe the two women had a blazing row with each other in the taxi on the way to the clinic, and you picked up on that vibe. Or maybe they'd shared a sprout vindaloo the night before, were both farting like bellows, and were embarrassed to have anyone at all sit near them.

Given that they were, apparently, taking up six seats between the two of them before you even walked in, there seems to have been something out of the ordinary going on that wasn't directed at you and yours. Ordinary thoughtlessness seems to me the most likely reason.

It's also entirely possible that they misread your motives in declining to take the seat that they did make available. If they weren't smart enough to realise that both you and your husband would be unwilling to sit if the other was standing, it's feasible that once the unspoken offer of a seat had apparently been refused, they felt more justified in continuing to hog the other three that they were taking up with objects other than their arses.

quote:
I didn't speak up (as I normally would have) because within the first thirty seconds my temper had gone from amiable to infernal, and I didn't trust myself not to rip heads off.
OK, but if you reckon that you can accurately read their body language to pick up on their emotionally charged vibe, they might equally well have noticed you glowering at them in silent rage, and marked you down as a nutter whom they understandably didn't want sitting anywhere near them. It's just a possibility, but it would account for the known facts at least as well as racial prejudice.

Obviously we also can't rule out the possibility that these people were so insanely racist that they objected to the mere presence of an elderly Vietnamese man in a public waiting room, but that doesn't strike me as being any more the go-to explanation for odd, and probably selfish, behaviour than any other.

It still baffles me that you got so angry before even asking if the seats were taken.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

Posts: 4600 | From: Hampton, Middlesex, UK | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Kwesi
Shipmate
# 10274

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My strategy is similar circumstances:-

Me: "Excuse me, is this seat taken?"

Reply: "No, it isn't."

I occupy the chair.

Posts: 1609 | From: South Ofankor | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged



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