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Source: (consider it) Thread: How would you read this?
Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
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.

I would happily ask someone to move their bag so I can sit down. I wouldn't physically move it.

Most people are thoughtless rather than deliberately unkind or cruel. After you all carried on standing after they'd moved some stuff without saying anything, they probably decided to you were fine with that and it was best to leave you all to it.

Why couldn't your husband or your son say something?

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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

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:

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.

Ordinary thoughtlessness is out of the ordinary?
If they’d had a row, were gassing each other or whatever, they’d be sitting at opposite ends of each row, not the middles.
quote:

It's also entirely possible that they misread your motives in declining to take the seat that they did make available.

This makes sense regardless of motivations.

quote:

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.

Insanely racist. [Roll Eyes] Being uncomfortable with other groups begins at fairly low levels of racism, even down to the levels where people don’t realise they are racist.
quote:

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

People who don’t regularly experience being treated differently because of who they are, not understanding? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

Yes, there are possibilities other than predjudice to explain the situation. But LC’s interpretation happens all the time.
Though I do realise that racism in Donald Trump’s America is a bit hard to process...

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I put on my rockin' shoes in the morning
Hallellou, hallellou

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Bishops Finger
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# 5430

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Just as an aside, I wonder whether I (an elderly white European man, just a few years younger than Mr. Chopped) would receive similar treatment, were I to enter the waiting room in a medical facility in Vietnam.

Somehow, I doubt it.

FWIW, the Chopped family behaved in a civilised manner, IMHO.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:

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.

Ordinary thoughtlessness is out of the ordinary?
If they’d had a row, were gassing each other or whatever, they’d be sitting at opposite ends of each row, not the middles.
quote:

It's also entirely possible that they misread your motives in declining to take the seat that they did make available.

This makes sense regardless of motivations.

quote:

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.

Insanely racist. [Roll Eyes] Being uncomfortable with other groups begins at fairly low levels of racism, even down to the levels where people don’t realise they are racist.
quote:

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

People who don’t regularly experience being treated differently because of who they are, not understanding? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

Yes, there are possibilities other than predjudice to explain the situation. But LC’s interpretation happens all the time.
Though I do realise that racism in Donald Trump’s America is a bit hard to process...

Not necessarily. There are rows of three seats on the platform at my train station. The considerate thing to do is to sit in one of the end seats and leave the other two free. Some people will deliberately sit in the middle of a row of three to make it less likely that others will sit down next to them. Then put their stuff on the other seats. Both of them.

The reason I'm assuming thoughtlessness and an overblown sense of entitlement is that I've seen people of all sexes, races, classes and ages do this.

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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

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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I am going to post something that may seem far fetched but is worth sneaking in just in case.

What if the atmosphere is not about you?

That is let us suppose that may be the two women know each other. Not just this but are each others nemesis in some small social circle. There is an atmosphere because they are both at the same doctors surgery at the same time probably for the same complaint. Of course they are not going to talk and they want equal status so sitting plonk in the middle of two benches at right angles given them this. They are not going to shift either as this would imply weakness on their part in face of their opponent.

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

Back to my blog

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lilBuddha
Shipmate
# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
There are rows of three seats on the platform at my train station. The considerate thing to do is to sit in one of the end seats and leave the other two free. Some people will deliberately sit in the middle of a row of three to make it less likely that others will sit down next to them. Then put their stuff on the other seats. Both of them.

No doubt. But my post was in direct response to Eliab's Fart Wars* scenario.
quote:

The reason I'm assuming thoughtlessness and an overblown sense of entitlement is that I've seen people of all sexes, races, classes and ages do this.

I'm not assuming any particular motivation. I am saying the tension LC perceived weighs more towards prejudice.
Mild discomfort and quiet irritation with the idea that one might be in closer proximity to other people than desired is the atmosphere you assume. Not the tension LC describes.

*Not That Long Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far too Close...

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I put on my rockin' shoes in the morning
Hallellou, hallellou

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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The two women were not looking at each other nor ignoring each other. That was all reserved for us.

And it wasn't a doctor's surgery. It was a physical therapy place, where nobody gets any particular news (it being much more like a gym-under-supervision) or diagnoses. Very low key in terms of emotion, usually.

I smelt no farts (thanks be to God)

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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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North East Quine

Curious beastie
# 13049

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I am intrigued by the 50 year old Middle Eastern man. When he came in, there was a seat available for him. I can understand that LC didn't want to sit and leave her husband standing and vice versa, but the 50 year old had no reason to not walk in and sit on the vacant seat. Why did he remain standing?
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cliffdweller
Shipmate
# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
The two women were not looking at each other nor ignoring each other. That was all reserved for us.

And it wasn't a doctor's surgery. It was a physical therapy place, where nobody gets any particular news (it being much more like a gym-under-supervision) or diagnoses. Very low key in terms of emotion, usually.

But a place where one might assume those waiting might have difficulty standing, by nature of the practice.

It's impossible to know if racism was a motive for either or both women-- which is most often the case, and why racism, sexism, and ageism are so insidious. It's easy to prove in general terms through broad-based or double-blind studies, but impossible to prove in the immediate since in polite society no one is going to say (even to themselves often) "I didn't want to sit next to an Asian man".

Mostly it feels like entitlement and self-asborbtion. Something I find myself capable of from time to time as well, but less so when there's eye contact. Not long ago on the train I sat in my preferred seat-- ones that face a view of out gorgeous mountains. The seat I was sitting in is a fold-up seat designed to access mobility chairs, but seldom used. I was not looking at the mountains but as too often is the case, had my phone out and was absorbed in facebook and/or Ship, when an elderly woman in mobility scooter and her daughter boarded completely unnoticed by me. Fortunately, the daughter did speak up and asked for the seat-- giving me an opportunity to apologize and say something self-deprecating about my oblivious behavior. Led to a friendly and lighthearted moment as I helped fold up the seat and moved to a nearby seat. Doesn't sound like the women were as clueless as I was, but it would have been interesting to see/hear their response had they been politely asked to give up the seats.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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L'organist
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# 17338

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I'm appalled at the actions of the two women: I'm also not surprised that you, LC, behaved the way you did because that is what the well-mannered, well brought-up person does - chooses discomfort rather than shining a light on behaviour that is crass, rude and indefensible.

I have to admit that until the 1990s I'd have made the same call as you and not said anything. What changed my mind was a dear friend (female) who encountered a similar situation when she was very heavily pregnant (5 weeks before due date with twins) on a crowded commuter train. She asked a city type if he would mind moving his briefcase so she could sit on the seat it was occupying and got back an exasperated sigh and the response "I was trying to read". At that point FF said something in her brain went ping and she said loudly "If you show me the words you're having difficulty with I'll see if I can help". Cue gales of laughter from surrounding passengers (all seated, mind you, and none of whom had offered their berth), very red face on the part of the city gent and a hurried gathering of briefcase and copy of the FT.

I now not only make a point of offering a seat but also make sure that things like newspapers, books, drinks, etc, are either with me or easily picked-up so that others can sit.

Next time, take your courage in both hands and ask people to shift: stuff doesn't deserve a seat, people do.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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It seems to me that while it is possible that Lamb Chopped's reading of the situation is wrong, it is highly unlikely that my reading as a white man with no non-white family members who was not there will be more accurate.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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I am not white. But it is also borne in upon me that I am not as nice a person as Lamb. I have lived in New York City, where the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I am sufficiently selfish that I would have put not the slightest consideration into their angst, needs, sacredness of the purse, etc. My demand would have been prompt and vocal. Possibly Lamb's is the better way.

[ 03. January 2018, 18:00: Message edited by: Brenda Clough ]

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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Another couple of bus experiences from today: an older lady was telling me on the bus-stop about all the people she knew who had died over the holiday period - and how one in particular wouldn't have died if he'd been staying with her. People around here really don't seem to have developed any sense that other people might not want to talk about this stuff.

Later I witnessed something when I glanced up from my book. I noticed that an older lady had sat next to me (in the chair near the back of the bus) and the man she was with was standing up next to her. I was now trapped so wasn't able to do anything, but several other people asked if he wanted their seat, but he refused. For some reason it was a point of pride to stand rather than accept a courtesy.

It is absolutely true that we cannot parse the situation in the OP because none of us were there. But I think if an older person was standing here when seats were available, it might well be assumed that they wanted (for unknown reasons) to stand rather than sit.

But then I'd imagine that it would be highly unlikely that the older person wouldn't have already explained to the whole waiting room what ailment they were troubled with; and also highly likely that someone would have asked if he wanted to sit down.

I'm not sure if that says more about LC's situation or the culture here in the Welsh valleys.

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arse

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
...Next time, take your courage in both hands and ask people to shift: stuff doesn't deserve a seat, people do.

Ahh-men.

But having read through the thread, I do think racism was likely a part of the dynamic. It may be hard for those of us who don't encounter it first-hand, and who wouldn't behave that way ourselves, to recognize it in the telling.

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I'm not dead yet.

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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I missed the detail about them clearing one seat, which none of the Lambs sat on, thereby conceivably signalling that they preferred standing. After all, by what telepathy were the women to know that they were doing a Musketeer One For All, All For One?

I still think the thing to do is grab what’s given as base for gaining more. So still plonk down Mr L and with an alligator smile pointedly move towards another of the cluttered seats and Loom.

As they say in therapy Communication is key. As long as no one actually SAYS anything, you can spend pages and pages analysing, imputing, speculating and projecting. Maybe they were oblivious and crochety old bats* maybe plain-clothes members of the Klan - we will never know.

*my favoured explanation, because I are one.

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
I am not white. But it is also borne in upon me that I am not as nice a person as Lamb. I have lived in New York City, where the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I am sufficiently selfish that I would have put not the slightest consideration into their angst, needs, sacredness of the purse, etc. My demand would have been prompt and vocal. Possibly Lamb's is the better way.

No it isn’t. Taking up seats with your stuff whilst others are standing is rude. Keeping quiet enables the dysfunctional behaviour, whatever the reason for it was.* There’s no need to be rude or angry about it, just ask them politely to move their stuff so you can sit down.

If you can't / won't do that, then that's your issue rather than their's. (Two weeks down the line I'd be more cross with me for not standing up for myself than with them tbh).

They may refuse to move. And have to live with their selfish, unkind and thoughtless actions. And you have the right to fall on them if standing for long periods gets too much. [Big Grin]

* Which could be racism. Or rudeness. Or being somewhere on the autistic spectrum which means they need more space around them than other people.

[ 05. January 2018, 08:26: 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

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Mark Wuntoo
Shipmate
# 5673

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Been there, got the T-shirt. I regularly encounter bags on seats and people sitting in buses on the isle side of a pair. I always address the issue by pointedly standing and looking 'serious' and this invariably works without anything being said. I do not thank them for accommodating me as I think common sense and politeness should be a 'given'. If someone is standing in the doorway of a bus they soon discover that my walking stick takes up a tremendous amount of space as I struggle past and my shoulder sways into them as I nearly lose my balance.
Our buses have seats reserved for the elderly, children and pregnant women, so I go for one of those. I am not tempted to say to any young woman sitting in such a seat 'excuse me but are you pregnant?'! I try to avoid using buses when schoolchildren are returning home so I avoid the situation where I would need to ask one of them to move. We have had four stabbings and two shootings in the past 10 days in our Borough so I won't confront a young person, thank you very much.
I am elderly white. I live in one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the country so I don't think there's a racial element in my experiences.

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Blessed are the cracked for they let in the light.

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Eliab
Host
# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Ordinary thoughtlessness is out of the ordinary?

No, what's out of the ordinary is two people taking up six seats in waiting room that's at capacity. It's out of the ordinary because most people are sufficiently aware and polite not to do that.

The cause of that out-of-the-ordinary situation, may, of course, be entirely ordinary - such as thoughtlessness.

The point is, the unusual thing - namely the land-grab of four extra seats, had happened before the Lambs arrived. So that bit - the bit that could be explained by thoughtlessness - wasn't due to racism (or at least not racism directed at the Lambs, I suppose it is possible that they were pre-emptively setting up a perimeter against non-whites generally, but that seems a bit of a stretch to me).

quote:
Insanely racist. [Roll Eyes] Being uncomfortable with other groups begins at fairly low levels of racism, even down to the levels where people don’t realise they are racist.
But that's not what LC is describing. I am well aware (from her previous posts over many years) that she knows what "casual" or "low-level" racism looks like. And what she's describing here is an unusual experience that goes beyond "being uncomfortable with other groups" - it's a display of outright (if unspoken) hostility at the mere appearance of a non-white person, it a public place where you'd ordinarily expect to see non-white people (the arrival of the Middle-Eastern man is evidence of that), and whom the racist had no expected interaction with whatsoever.

Most people who are casually racist can manage to cope with the existence of an Asian across the room in a public space without tangible malice. Maybe they can't bring themselves to interact socially without signalling disapproval, but things hadn't got to that stage in LC's account. "Can't stand to see a Vietnamese man in a public space" is insanely racist in a way that "feeling slightly uncomfortable about how to interact with someone of a different race" isn't.

quote:
quote:

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

People who don’t regularly experience being treated differently because of who they are, not understanding? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

The point is, all LC had to go on was (what she interpreted as) hostile body language. Which she might have misread. I don't suppose for a minute that LC is one of those people who enjoys feeling angry and aggrieved, so it seems to me that a polite enquiry about the availability of the seats might have removed the source of the resentment - the women's apparent hostility might have evaporated, or they might have told her that they were saving the seats for some other infirm people due to arrive soon. I don't know. And LC didn't know - not in the thirty seconds or so that it took for her to lose her shit, anyway. It was an enquiry worth making - and almost everyone commenting on this thread has said they would have done some variant on that theme.

Saying nothing before getting mad about one's perceptions of a stranger's attitude, before that stranger has said (or, really, even done) anything at all, isn't normal or reasonable behaviour. It's baffling, unless you're a person who likes taking offence, which LC manifestly isn't.

The fact that in this case there was a difference in race, and therefore a sinister explanation for the rudeness, doesn't really make that much of a difference - whatever the reason for the perceived hostility, it was worth spending a few polite words on the off-chance that they'd been a miscommunication. LC didn't do that. True, the women might have been appalling bigots, who would still have been hostile even after polite enquiry, and LC's anger might have been utterly merited, but none of us know that, because LC never spoke to them before judging them to be racist.

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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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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
I do not thank them for accommodating me as I think common sense and politeness should be a 'given'.

I agree with you. Part of politeness is thanking someone when they do something that they are expected to do for you. When a shopkeeper hands me my change, I say "thank you". This doesn't in any sense imply that there was a chance he might just trouser the cash.
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lilBuddha
Shipmate
# 14333

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Eliab,
Your explanation is technically possible. And that is a problem. Any one instance could be explained away. But when it happens often, when people look at you but not anyone else who walks in, when the police and store employees pay you special notice, it sort of sets a pattern. One that is cumulative. One that white people often cannot see.
And sorry, your explanations are a bigger stretch than racism. A row, in a physical therapy office? Possible, but not likely. Farting? Happens, but unless it is horrific, that is generally ignored. And if it were horrific, the women would be as far from each other as possible.
They were taking up seats likely because they didn't want to sit next to other people and/or they were inconsiderate. The tension in the room could have many explanations, but the likely one is discomfort with the Lambs. A mixed-race couple of disparate age with proof of their sins accompanying them.
Yeah, what a stretch. [Roll Eyes]

--------------------
I put on my rockin' shoes in the morning
Hallellou, hallellou

Posts: 17627 | From: the round earth's imagined corners | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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heheheheh. Yep, we lost a chance at a bank loan once just that way. Perfect credit, long time customers, and the bank manager sat with his eyes on our newborn spawn the whole time while he was fishing up the guts to reject our app for $5,000.

Fortunately there was another bank down the road just as happy to take a perfect credit customer off their hands.

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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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ExclamationMark
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# 14715

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Had this happen a few times on public transport and elsewhere. My approach is always to meet the person's eye and ask directly to remove the offending articles.

Recently I was waiting for a long overdue coach at London Victoria. The only spare seat was between 2 women clearly Muslims. They looked up at my approach and immediately moved their and invited me to sit between them. They soon drew me into conversation for the next hour as we waited: they'd been to do their citizenship "exams". A lot of stereotypes and assumptions overturned that day by 2 thoroughly polite and welcoming people.

If the situation is reversed, I always try to give up my seat/move my stuff. There are people who need to sit more than I, even if I am now grey haired. My daughter and 2 grandchildren travel by train on long journeys and often have 3 seats of 4 around a table: they love meeting new people in the empty seat. It's an adventure more should try

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M.
Ship's Spare Part
# 3291

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Talking? On a train? How is that even possible?!

M.

Posts: 2303 | From: Lurking in Surrey | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Eliab,
Your explanation is technically possible. And that is a problem. Any one instance could be explained away. But when it happens often, when people look at you but not anyone else who walks in, when the police and store employees pay you special notice, it sort of sets a pattern. One that is cumulative. One that white people often cannot see.
And sorry, your explanations are a bigger stretch than racism. A row, in a physical therapy office? Possible, but not likely. Farting? Happens, but unless it is horrific, that is generally ignored. And if it were horrific, the women would be as far from each other as possible.
They were taking up seats likely because they didn't want to sit next to other people and/or they were inconsiderate. The tension in the room could have many explanations, but the likely one is discomfort with the Lambs. A mixed-race couple of disparate age with proof of their sins accompanying them.
Yeah, what a stretch. [Roll Eyes]

But one moved their stuff whilst the other didn’t. Which suggests the incident wasn’t entirely racist. Unfortunately, the Lambs family dynamic meant it was all sitting down or no one. To get a seat the other lady had to move her stuff. She may be a member of Aryan Nation or she may be so lost in her own bubble she wouldn’t think to move her stuff unless asked. Who knows?! None of us for sure.

LC asked what the group made of the situation. It’s interesting to note that all the contributors to the thread said that in the same situation they would have asked for the stuff to be moved. Which is what I’d take away from this TBH.

The only behaviour and attitudes I can control is my own. If I can’t get my shit together enough to ask someone for something I need – a seat because I can’t stand for long periods – that’s down to me. It doesn’t mean I’ll get what I want, but I’ll have tried!

[ 05. January 2018, 13:22: 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

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Gwai
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While I agree with everyone who'd ask people to move, and as a city dweller have done it a bunch of times more on the train and will surely again, I think a comfort with such requests is rather cultural. Which doesn't mean that the Lambs couldn't do it if it isn't their culture--assuming on that one since they didn't--but that we should at least note that for some people asking for space is normal while for others it is very alien.

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If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


Posts: 11914 | From: Chicago | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
But one moved their stuff whilst the other didn’t. Which suggests the incident wasn’t entirely racist.

Racism isn't on or off, is is a scale with on and off bracketing a finely numbered scale between. Many people who are definitely racist are also generally good people.* So a person who is uncomfortable with brown people and/or interracial couples could also be decent enough to offer a seat.
But yeah, we don't know.
quote:

LC asked what the group made of the situation. It’s interesting to note that all the contributors to the thread said that in the same situation they would have asked for the stuff to be moved. Which is what I’d take away from this TBH.

The only behaviour and attitudes I can control is my own. If I can’t get my shit together enough to ask someone for something I need – a seat because I can’t stand for long periods – that’s down to me. It doesn’t mean I’ll get what I want, but I’ll have tried!

OK. But it is not this simple for everyone. One reason is over-reaction. I have been in similar situations and sometimes can deal with it appropriately. Other times, anger would cause my response to be more intense than it should be and the better part is to quietly deal with it. And there is exhaustion at times as well.

*My Gran was a very good person, better than I can manage. She was also racist. But she had friends and family in the groups she was racist towards. And never treated any of them differently than anybody else.

[ 05. January 2018, 15:33: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

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jacobsen

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:


*My Gran was a very good person, better than I can manage. She was also racist. But she had friends and family in the groups she was racist towards. And never treated any of them differently than anybody else.

This reminds me of a comment in C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape letters" (advice from a senior devil to a junior devil on the art of temptation) that the English were such a milk-and-water lot that they would bluster hatred towards all Germans - this was during WW2 - but give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turned up at the back door. Such racism would seem to be more theoretical than actual.

At least, it seems to die when confronted by a real person to whom we can relate. Not that this happens with everyone.

[ 05. January 2018, 21:41: Message edited by: jacobsen ]

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:

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.


Though, as some posters above have hinted, that does routinely happen, at least in Britain. If I felt unable to stand long and saw an empty seat with someone's bag on it, I certainly wouldn't hesitate to ask to sit there. And it's completely normal, as trains and buses fill up, for seat-hogs to be requested to move stuff/selves for others; or, on occasion, to have to move their stuff double-quick as someone zeroes in on the seat with the obvious intention of sitting there regardless. Of course it's also normal for people to pretend they haven't noticed someone needing a seat, until they've been explicitly called out on it!

Having said that my Mum always surprised me by saying how often she (an elderly woman) was made to stand on trains (in Ireland), while young people occupied the seats. I'm over fifty and would still automatically continue to offer my seat to an elderly person, if needed, having been schooled to do this since infancy! So I can't imagine where this trend for young people to be so ignorant has come from. Especially in a country usually so observant of Mammy's Rules!

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Ohher
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quote:
Originally posted by Anselmina:
Especially in a country usually so observant of Mammy's Rules! [/QB]

Alas, as Mammy is generally off earning significant chunks of the Family Budget these days, her rules are less-frequently repeated and less-often enforced.

On a recent trip on Boston's MTA, an elderly African-American man (possibly my age or a bit older) offered me his seat while the apparently hale adolescent (over whom I with my white hair was pointedly strap-looming, er, hanging) seated next to my would-be gallant ignored me.

"Thank you," I resplied, "but you stay right where you are. I'm only going three stops, and if somebody's going to surrender a seat, surely it ought to be that so-called gentleman."

The apparently hale adolescent never so much as looked up from his phone.

[ 06. January 2018, 19:42: Message edited by: Ohher ]

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RdrEmCofE
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quote:
The apparently hale adolescent never so much as looked up from his phone.
The charitable observation might be that perhaps he was deaf. Or then again, did he have earplugs in his ears and was oblivious to everything else around him. (I have even seen youths of this ilk crossing a busy road, oblivious to traffic, totally absorbed by whatever hypnotizing images and sounds are being selectively fed them by Google, YouTube Facebook, Twitter, what have you.)

Manners maketh the man. It has always been the case. Your Afro American was more the man than the vacuous phone bedazzled juvenile.

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Love covers many sins. 1 Pet.4:8. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not holding their sins against them; 2 Cor.5:19

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cliffdweller
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As confessed above, I engaged in the same behavior myself recently, with neither the excuse of youth or headphones to fall back upon

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Golden Key
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Re young people not giving up a seat:

I think many of them simply never learned that, or even heard about it. Or saying "excuse me" to someone they're trying to get past.

Same with many grownups.

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Ian Climacus

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True. And manners and customs, like language, change.

And few of us seem good at coping with any of these. I know I'm not. But I'm learning.

[ 07. January 2018, 02:16: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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Gwai
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I also think that some of us handle cities by completely tuning out the world. I trigger my ears to hear certain words like my stop and then ignore the rest of the world. I remember being on a bus and noticing someone near me giving up their seat to someone else. I was rather embarrassed I hadn't even noticed the existence that person in need of a seat. This although they must have been rather close to me since it was one of my neighbors who did give up the seat. My response was to realize that we are obligated to pay enough attention to the world to notice those who need. But when ignoring is how you handle the press of too-many-humans, it takes maturity to realize that one must not bind oneself up too tightly.

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A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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Kwesi
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From the evidence we have it is impossible to conclude with any certainty the motivations of the women concerned. If, for example, a white person had entered the room and they had made space for him/her then racism would seem to have been the motivation. On the other hand, human beings do tend to adopt strategies designed to maximise their comfort, especially in waiting rooms and on public transport. As I indicated earlier, the trick is to play the game to one’s advantage. I’m sure there is quite a literature on the subject.

In this case, unsure of any racist motivation but suspecting it I think you and your family should have taken steps to occupy the vacant seats: direct action. Regarding the seat with the newspaper, you ask, “Excuse me, is this your paper”. If the answer is ‘no’ then you pick up the paper, sit down, and proceed to read it. If the answer is ‘yes’ then you politely hand over the paper and sit down. As I suggested earlier, regarding the seats with items on them, you ask “Excuse me, is this seat taken?” Normally the answer is ‘no’, and the individual is put to the inconvenience of removing the offending clobber, allowing the questioner to sit down. For you this would be a double victory, you and your family get to sit down, and the offenders are socially defeated. If they are also racist they are either forced to sit next to an oriental gentleman or to vacate the seat and stand up, leaving you and your loved ones more space or the opportunity to sit together. Game, set, and match. You have made them feel bad.

I must confess, I find it difficult to understand why you and your family persisted in standing, Lamb Chopped. Are there other factors you haven’t told us about?

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wild haggis
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I'm a bolshy Scot now. Think I'm getting old! I would simply ask if I could sit and say that if I stood for any length of time she would have to pick me off the floor as I was prone to collapse. Not every illness/disablity is obvious.

The walking stick doesn't always work. On a Tube in London going to work after an op on my knee, a number of years ago, I hobbled on and stood, no one moved. I made eye contact with some seated passengers but they just looked away.Then a rasta haired young man got on at the next stop, nodded at me and then bellowed in a very loud voice that the selfish passengers were not giving a seat to a poor lady with a stick - embaresing or what! But I got my seat and there were a number of red faces.

You can now get big badges to wear for London Transport, if you need a seat on London transport. My pregnant daughter in law had one that said, "Please give a seat - baby on board." You have to apply and prove that you have a problem and need a seat, so I understand.

But I do think people are not as polite as they used to be, particulary in big cities. There seems to have been, in recent years, a "me first" attitude. Society doesn't exist but just me and I will grab and get whatever I want.

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wild haggis

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Brenda Clough
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Pregnancy is an excuse that can cover everything. You can lean, greenly, over the seated person and say, "Do you mind giving me your seat? I think I'm going to be sick." The implication being that if they refuse you will barf onto their knees. This never fails to elicit a swift response.
Babies in arms work nearly as well; just hold the tot over the seated person and mention the fullness of the diaper or the tendency for juicy burps.

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Lamb Chopped
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Kwesi, as I mentioned upthread--a very very charged atmosphere, and my own resulting desire to rip some heads off. I say this not to excuse my temper, but to explain why I didn't want to make matters worse by interacting. It was the end of a long and tiring day, I was in pain, and reforming other people's manners gracefully was just beyond me at that point.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
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churchgeek

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
But one moved their stuff whilst the other didn’t. Which suggests the incident wasn’t entirely racist.

Racism isn't on or off, is is a scale with on and off bracketing a finely numbered scale between. Many people who are definitely racist are also generally good people.* So a person who is uncomfortable with brown people and/or interracial couples could also be decent enough to offer a seat.
But yeah, we don't know.

Indeed - the one woman clearing one seat could have been a cue that only the one white person in LC's family was welcome to sit.

quote:
Originally posted by Gwai:
I also think that some of us handle cities by completely tuning out the world. I trigger my ears to hear certain words like my stop and then ignore the rest of the world.

That strikes me as being a bit unsafe! I mean, I feel safe in my city (Detroit), but I certainly wouldn't tune the world out. But I've been mugged - by someone I didn't notice when I thought I was aware of my surroundings - so that might be why the idea of tuning everything out when you're in a city strikes me as unsafe! Cary on...

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Gwai
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In context, that was about public transportation where I traveled at rush hour, probably pretty safe.

--------------------
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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