Tips from a seat provoker
It all started with a bunion operation that turned out slightly more complicated than planned. Thought I would be in and out, ended up in a wheelchair, then crutches, then couldn’t fit in my normal shoes for two years…but that is not the point of this story.
When I graduated to crutches, my tube travel became suddenly much easier. Passengers, rather than risk me landing on top of them, suddenly leapt to attention and offered me their seats. They were often young rather than old, or say middle aged, men and women, and this rather restored my faith in humanity.
Some years on, having been diagnosed with rather painful osteoarthritis in both knees, I find I can’t stand for any length of time…but I think I look fine. So should I be worried that, for the most part, people rush to offer me their seat on the tube? I don’t have grey hair, few if any wrinkles and look jovial enough. Or should I just be grateful that they do? And believe me, I am.
My solution is to give thanks for such kindness but go one step further: I am carving out a career for myself as a seat provoker. Let me give you a for instance. A heavily-pregnant woman steps into a crowded carriage and everyone’s eyes immediately revert to their paper/book/kindle/phone. I jump up, offer her my seat, then loom over the fittest-looking, youngest passenger and sway ominously. This usually works, but if it doesn’t bring results I start to tread on their toes. By this time they’re starting to twitch but if they hold out? Well, I might just be forced to fall into their lap.
Then there’s the mad stampede to get on to a crowded train. I refuse to take part: I’ve had enough problems trying to get on to compete with those trying to get off. But if I do edge closer to the one vacant seat and find someone breaking the sound barrier to get there before me, then I eyeball them. That is usually enough to stop them in their tracks. And if they still reverse manically into the seat, sympathise loudly, “I’m really sorry, I didn’t realise you were so incapacitated. Did anyone else see they were ailing? Such a shame.” This may blow my cover as an apparently concerned onlooker, but I don’t care.
Reading this back to myself, I realise I’m turning into a nasty old lady. Next step will be hat pins, particularly in reverse thrusts against those who attempt to feel you up in the crowded sections of the carriage. Actually, that sounds quite fun. Sign me up and assault charges be damned.