After standing on your feet longer than promised, the doors open and you manage to grab a seat, middle-to-back, on a bus that will spend the next 35 minutes weaving through rush hour traffic to get you home. It’s a bit stuffy but no matter, you’ve got a book, the person next to you doesn’t smell, life is good...then she gets on.
Not that gender really matters but age does and this one looks ripe. With obsessive tanning, perhaps chronic smoking and liver spots you place her at about 68 or maybe 70. Practically middle age, right? So why should you give up your seat? Sure she’s old but she’s wearing thick soles. There’s no cane. Arthritis isn’t stopping her from gripping the pole above you and all that wincing could just be from something she ate. You on the other hand have been on your feet all day, wearing ill-fitting, faux leather shoes from Payless and hauling a humungous Coach bag bought with the extra money you saved on the shoes. While you’ve spent the day sorting out problems and taking orders she’s been passing gas and feeding the pigeons. Why should I give up my seat?
Suddenly the bus brakes. She swings back, brushing you so that you can’t help but notice. Bitch. You look up because instinct, curiosity, a conscience has betrayed you to make eye contact for the first time. I’m old, fragile and will probably pull a hip but you were here first, she smiles.You look around. Well that’s disgusting. No one is offering a seat to an old woman. Ok, you're not but there could be a good reason. A sprained wrist, a bum knee. What about menstrual cramping. They can get really bad, you know. Do I have to announce to the whole bus I’m on my period just to keep my seat?
Eventually you decide to get up. It's really not that bad. After all this internal struggle you kind of feel like it’s your decision and not pressure from some twisted social etiquette that favours the fat, knocked up or missing limbs. You still believe that if there was a fire, healthy people should get out first because the cripples would just clog the exit and kill everyone but with this altruistic act a feeling of pride and superiority swells inside of you. You stand.
“Excuse me Madam, would you like to sit down?”
Pat on the back. You’re fuck’n awesome. It’s the most exhilarating moment you’ve had all day. Just as you’re preparing to pin a Citizen of the Year award, she interrupts your thoughts to say ‘no thanks, I’m getting off at the next stop’ while a twelve year old kid slides into your seat.