Thursday, July 2, 2009

Priority Seating

The local train service (MRT) has something called as the "Priority Seat". Its meant to be voluntarily offered to old/disabled/pregnant women at your discretion if you are sitting on that seat.

Priority seat

All frequent travelers on the MRT know that priority seats are the last ones left empty on a train. The station that I get on to the train generally has only priority seats left empty, if in the first place there are any empty seats left at all. Now comes the funny part. Not giving up the priority seat to the people in need is not a crime. So you are expected to "judge" if a person is in need and give it up accordingly.

There is where the problem starts. So the moment you get up and offer your seat to a person standing in front of you, it automatically means that you consider that person to be either old or pregnant. (Chivalrous behavior is not expected! You are not expected to give your seat to the pretty lady or the fat aunty standing next to you.)

Now lets take the hypothetical case of a 70 year old man. He can beat the hell out of you in running, can do 20 push-ups and 30 pull-ups in the time you can do one. He looks old  though, and imagine offering the seat to such a person. Not only will he be feel insulted but he would prove to you that he isn't as old as he looks.

The second case - pregnant women. In my entire life, I have never been able to figure out if a woman is pregnant till like she is about to give birth to a baby. I know most of you will frown at this statement of  mine. But how do you actually figure out if a woman is really pregnant or she just had a lot of kaya toast for breakfast? And imagine a 20 something standing in front of you who is just fat, and you get up and offer your seat to her. The rest, they say, is history!

So after a lot of deliberation and conscience pricking, I decided that even if I occupy the priority seat, I would get up the moment *I think* that the person standing next to me is either old or pregnant. But then since I think so, I don't *offer* them the seat, but I just casually get up pretending that I don't need the seat anymore; presuming that if the person is really old or pregnant, he/she will get the signal and sit down. If not, they will ignore my gracious offer and then I can stroll back to my seat as if it was the wrong station and I wasn’t supposed to get down there!

I tried that a couple of times this month and I figured the moment I do that, a guy or gal much younger to me actually occupies the seat and there goes my chivalry and courtesy down the drain. Now I get to stand beside the old/pregnant person who gives me a smirk which screams - "Idiot".


  1. So I read it yesterday and could not comment.. but here I am :)

    It was very quiet in our office and during lunch time I was reading this while eating. When I reached last paragraph and when I started laughing I felt I am the only one generating loud sound waves here.. :D

    Good going...


  2. :-) They should put a label out there saying 'You have the right to remain seated'.

  3. Awesome post. I actually imagined you doing the act of getting up - acting like it was the wrong station - (try) going back to your seat..Haha.. Good one.