Do you know this guy on the left? If you do, then you’ll appreciate where I’m coming from. This is Larry David, creator of the inestimable Seinfield and, more recently, equally sublime Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Basically, in Curb (I’ve shortened it for brevity), Larry says the things that everyone always wants to, but somehow society dictates that we shouldn’t – because we’ll be seen as rude. You know the sort of thing, I’m sure…
Well, on Thursday, I experienced a situation where I wished I was Larry. I was on a train heading into London for work. I got on and espied a spare seat and sat down. There were others free, but I wanted this one – it was a nice aisle space and the adjacent seat was occupied by a middle-aged woman. She had to remove a carrier bag to allow me to sit down which she put on the floor (with a slight huff).
She did that thing where she stared and made you feel bad for having taken the seat she thought was explicitly reserved for her 30x20cm plastic bag from Sainsbury’s. So I sat down and quickly realised that there wasn’t a lot of room. Even though she didn’t look big, this woman managed to occupy one-and-a-half seats for the entire journey. No matter how much I shifted and manoeuvred my elbows, I couldn’t get her to budge over.
Ultimately, she had a huge rear-end. And what I wanted to say was: “Excuse me, could you shift your big arse over, so I can actually sit down properly?” Of course, I couldn’t say that, because I would have been seen to be ungentlemanly and sexist. Why didn’t I though? Why is it so difficult to assert your own rights to sit down on a seat designed for one person, not two people’s posteriors?
The one bright side? At least I’ll recognise her the next time I get on the train and will avoid that oh-so-tempting spare seat!