Being Courteous on the Train

I believe giving up our seats to those who need it more is basic respect; respect for the elderly who has spent his lifetime working for the betterment of our future, respect for the pregnant mom who will carry her baby for ten months and take care of the child for the rest of her life, respect for the disabled who has the courage and strength to face public gazes. So of course if I see someone on the train who needs the seat more than I do, I will give it up, no matter how tired I may be.

Today I was seating in my favourite seat, the one right in the middle of the cabin where the two glass panels meet and there is this thing sticking out which I can rest my head on. The train was awfully crowded, I could not see past the people surrounding me, much less the door. A lady near the door passed a message along the people to me, who was right in the middle of the cabin, to ask me to give up my seat to a pregnant lady who had just got on the train. I quickly stood up. I did not notice the pregnant mom who was near the door, else I would have taken the initiative to let her have my seat.

But then this got me thinking. Why had the people near the door, especially those who were seated on the priority seats, not letting the pregnant lady have it? At that kind of peak hour, the four seats around the door would mostly probably be the working class or students, and if the lady had to pass a message from near the door right to the middle of the cabin, I guess none of the four would have been students. So assuming that all the four seats were taken up by those who truly need it, then what happened to the rest of the people in the seats leading up to me? At least from what I see the person next to me seemed pretty much fine. So were they all waiting for a student or a uniformed personnel to give up the seat? So are students and those serving the nation supposed to have it set in them that they will not have to give up their seats when they grow up? Is it only now that they may be STOMPED and bring shame to their school or the nation that they must upkeep this courteous behaviour? Of course I have seen adults giving up their seats willingly although I mostly see myself giving up the seat more often than not. But what happened to the rest of the people?

And to the lady who passed the message down, I know she did it out of goodwill and concern for the pregnant mom, and of course, picking me would have been a very good choice since I would willingly do it. But in that kind of crowd, I guess picking on someone nearer the door would be a better choice. This already has nothing to do with me being tired when standing on the train, which I wasn't even, since I was awake, which is a pretty rare sight. Normally my head would be knocking into the arm of the person next to me /: Firstly, for the safety of the mom and baby. To have to maneuver in through those people would not be very convenient with her big tummy. She may trip over someone's shoe, or the train may do a sudden jerk, judging from the fact that train breakdowns are no longer a rare occurrence. There is a reason why the reserved seat is next to the door. Secondly, people will not reject a reasonable and sincere request in front of so many others, especially when there is such a thing as STOMP now. Seriously, it is a matter of their face in front of so many people.

When I was in Japan, in a really crowded morning peak hour train, I remember a lady of about my age giving up her seat to my little sister, who back then was already 10. That's the kind of courtesy and empathy that should come from the heart of a first-world nation.

Singapore, let's be kind.