Bay Area passive-agressiveness

I've never been a fan of kids.  Growing up an only child, the sole children I was exposed to were my classmates.  I found them silly, stupid and not worth my time.  At that time, I was also exposed to the elderly.  I mean, I was primarily raised by senior citizens, which created a comfort with them.  Old people get a bad rap.  Throughout the years, I've watched the elderly be mistreated and be the victim of prejudice.  I plan to work primarily with senior citizen hospice patients when I start practicing nursing because of this bond.  


That being said, I'll tell my story...

Saturday I was on BART, the bay area subway system.  I was heading from the Mission District back to the Amtrak in Richmond and BART is the easiest- albeit not always most reliable- mode of transportation.  A friend and I hopped on at the 24th St. station and were surprised to find the train almost completely empty.  I sat in one of the three stations reserved for elderly, disabled and pregnant people and assumed there wouldn't be too much of an issue.  I've rode that train hundreds of times and never had to get up for anyone because mostly young people ride the train.  

On the rare occasion someone who meets the requirements of ancient, handicapped or preggo, some people usually get up for them.  Sometimes, no one moves from the reserved seats and a kind soul will offer their seat in the more crowded, less easily accessible section.  The biggest offenders are the bicyclists.  They like to sit in the reserved areas because there is a lot of room in front of them to place their bike.  They usually take the entire two seats up, one for them and one for their messenger bag, and block them off with their bike which creates a barrier between them and anyone who may want to sit on the available seat their bag is in.  Bicyclists almost never give up their seats for anyone.  A man in a wheelchair comes in, they will not so much as move their bike so he can sit in the only place he can park his chair.  A seven month pregnant woman wrestling with another baby can be looking for a seat and they won't budge.

So my friend and I are seated in one of the sets of reserved seating and the other two sets of seats are occupied each by a bicyclist and their bag fenced off by their bulky bikes.  By the time the delayed train pulls into the Civic Center station, the car has gone from a ghost train to completely packed.  I noticed an old lady walking into the train, her gaze shifting around for a seat.  In the time I was contemplating giving up my seat, a young man who was sitting in the next seat adjacent to mine rose and offered her his seat.  Then, I noticed she had a friend with her who was also an elderly woman.  They made their way over to the two available seats he had freed for them.  The situation seemed to be working.  He opened up the two seats he was occupying and the friends could sit together.  Should have been a good thing, right?

They exaggeratedly thanked him and took their seats very close to me and proceeded to insult the shit out of me and my friend in that passive-aggressive manner of people from the Bay Area.  They deliberately criticized me just loud enough so my friend and I could hear everything out of their mouths.  

"Doesn't the sign say that they aren't supposed to sit there?"  The first old lady asked incredulously.

The other old lady in a blue fuzzy hat shook her head, "No they definitely aren't supposed to sit there."

I focused on the others in the reserved seating and the bicyclists that had gotten on when we did had not budged and their bags were still occupying valuable seats for the many people in the standing room only car.  Why were we the bad guys?  The bicyclists were in the reserved seating too.  The idea of giving up their seats for these old biddies never even occurred to them.  But no, they're not to blame.  They ride a bicycle.  They're green.  My friend and I are Hitler incarnate.  We are symptoms of an inconsiderate society who gives the middle finger to senior citizens.  All we care about are ourselves and the plights of others are inconsequential.  

A late middle aged woman entered the crowded train.  She was in her late fifties or at the very most early sixties.  She hovered near where we were sitting and was engrossed in an electronic book.  It was evident that she did not at all expect anyone to give up their seat for her and wasn't even thinking of it.  The old biddy in the furry blue hat nudged me and told me to get up for her.  My friend promptly rose and the woman, surprised, took the seat next to me.

Those old crones know nothing of me or my friend, they were so convinced of their assumptions that they criticized me aloud.  However, when I looked at them they would not meet my gaze.  I could be pregnant for all they know.  I could be handicapped.  I was just some girl sitting on a subway seat.  That's the thing that I miss the least about the Bay Area, the sense of entitlement.  Everybody's entitled.  The bicyclists are entitled to hog the BART seats.  The Cal students are entitled to walk around like they own the place.  The douchy parents at Berkeley Bowl are entitled to a parking spot because having a house and a baby somehow means that they deserve it all.  The old ladies view themselves as entitled to those seats and above asking us politely to move.

Many seniors have that sense of entitlement that because they have been on this Earth longer than me I need to cow tow to them in every situation.  Do seniors deserve rights?  Absolutely.  Should they get discounted fare and tickets?  Yes, most are living on social security and that doesn't pay much.  Should they get access to better seats?  Yes.  They often are not as spry as they used to be and need convenient seats.  I get it.  Are they better than anyone else?  No.  The minute people start being officially recognized as better is a sad day.

I don't like to take advantage of this too much but I'm handicapped.  I am able bodied so I like to leave disabled seats for people who may be worse off than I am.  I do, however, make use of discounted fares for transportation because that shit is expensive.  While those old ladies deserved the seat I was occupying under federal law, so did I.  The seats are also reserved for the disabled and my red BART ticket verifies that my disability meets the requirements making me significantly more worthy of sitting there than the goddamn bicyclists who wouldn't move an inch for those bitches.


1177 views and 1 response

  • Mar 3 2011, 5:12 PM
    Jeff Hammel responded:
    Yeah, those old ladies were something else. What bothers me is that they didn't ask. We were just supposed to magically know they wanted our seat. I don't mind getting up, but quite frankly asking is being polite. I don't know why we should have to get up when one of the mr. bicyclists was taking *two* reserved seats. If anyone needs me, I'll be in my angry dome