Seat etiquette is of utmost importance. The rule is similar to bathroom etiquette for men.
For those of you not familiar with Male Public Restroom Etiquette, the rules are fairly simple. And no one ever tells you the rules, you just get the idea from casual observation. Also, casual observation is all that is typically approved of when hanging out with strangers in the bathroom, so that works out. Too much observation in the public restroom can lead to all sorts of things, danger among them.
Where were we? Ah…yes. It becomes clear at an early age, you don’t stand next to someone at a urinal if you can avoid it. If you are the first to claim a urinal, you have an obligation to allow for maximum urinators. If there are 3, you can take 1 or 3. Taking number 2 is unacceptable. You have to allow a buffer if another needs to relieve himself. If there are 4 urinals, you can take any of the four and the buffer remains intact. Once the precedent has been set, the 2nd reliever must uphold the preexisting structure. If there are 3 urinals and the 1st reliever has taken number 3, the 2nd must take number 1. Taking number 2 is unsavory and frowned upon. If there are 4 urinals and the 1st takes an odd number, the 2nd must take the other odd number. The same is applicable for even numbers. You get the pattern. If not, let me break it down.
UNDER EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE, WHEN POSSIBLE, THE RELIEVER MUST LEAVE A SPACE BETWEEN HIM AND THE NEXT OCCUPIED URINAL
Now, there are those that insist that you should wait if you cannot leave the extra space if the others are taken. Those rules are simply absurd. Those men have larger bladders and more spare time than I have. The only rule that makes sense: Leave a buffer if possible and keep your eyes on the white tiled wall. We’re all adults here. But, be advised, if for ANY reason you are left at the middle urinal alone (even if 2 guys just left while you were mid-stream) and someone else comes in, you are out of luck. They will never believe that there were two others there “just a second ago, [you] swear.”
Also, it is not really accepted to speak to strangers while unzipped, so offering an explanation at all is not recommended. All you can do is finish and leave, head hung in shame. And please wash your hands.
Why are we talking about bathrooms so much? Well, there is a similar etiquette that holds sway over public train seats. The rule is similar to the broken down rule from above.
UNDER EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE, WHEN POSSIBLE, THE RELIEVER COMMUTER MUST LEAVE A SPACE BETWEEN HIM (or HER) AND THE NEXT OCCUPIED URINAL TRAIN SEAT
It’s clearly posted within the collective commuter consciousness.
Like urinals at the zoo post dolphin show, full capacity is inevitable. Regardless, maintaining the rule is a requirement. Sitting with another person when there is an empty seat is an offense punishable by excommunication and assured wandering in purgatory. A purgatory with trains that never run on time and filled with kamikaze moths and people talking on cell phones. Or a purgatory with only middle urinals with broad shouldered men on either side. Depending on the applicable situation.
Lately, a transgressor has emerged. A female sexagenarian (that’s a person that is 60+, not the other thing that it could potentially be, at least not that I’m aware of), with a drab collection of cargo pants and Marty McFly hair that would be snow-white if it weren’t for the yellowing of consistent tobacco use over time. The encroachment begins before the final three stops, when the train crowds with the weary and the rules laid out above are acceptably broken due to the mass of people.
First time I saw her, she smiled while coming up the aisle. I thought she was being nice. But she knew what she planned. And she smushed in next to me. The fleshy part of my thigh inside her unbuttoned cargo pocket. I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. I hoped it was a one-time breach of Seatiquette.
It wasn’t. And now I’m obsessed, like 30-somethings with Mad Men. I know it won’t go anywhere, but I have to know why.
Why me? There are other open seats. And I am not remotely enticing.