It may not be 'seat-hogging' ...
Ann Scott Tyson's article about "seat hogs' riding the Metro has touched off a furious round of debate about people who sit in aisle seats on rail cars and block access to the window seats, and those who put their purses, briefcases and shopping bags in the empty spaces.
Many people say they will gladly allow access to the window seat if people will just ask. Here are some of the comments:
"When I get the chance, I sit on the aisle seat - not to "hog" a seat, but because moving from a window seat in a crowded Metro car is difficult for me. Should I show my Disabled Person Metro ID and ask someone to let me sit down in the designated seats? Would you?
The dynamic that people are missing is the new "commuter" on the Metro. They set up camp because they are commuting in from Gaithersburg, etc. They aren't accustomed to people needing to get in and out within say 4 stops. Meanwhile, the in city riders need to get out. So you have the conflicts of long ride squatters and short-term riders. People get caught in the middle trying to get out and long ride commuters get agitated that short riders need to get out. I try to stay near the door as a result. Cars used to be packed to Dupont maybe Woodley on the red line, now its Tenley or Friendship. Soon, I won't bother because I can't get on the train. Metro has to add more cars or the short ride commuters will take another route - like driving! But wasn't the point of buying into the high price of living in the city near a Metro stop so that I wouldn't have to drive to work? Ah, yes. So, Metro is causing the whole economics of living and working in DC to change and it will eventually drive people out because it's too expensive coupled with too much hassle. Hey, Fed., then where will you're workers come from? The decision makers need to get out there and try commuting on the system so that maybe they will begin to understand. Try it for a few weeks and you'll start seeking alternatives too.
I'm one of those that sits on the isle seat, even when the other one is empty. Reason being, I'm too tall for the 3" of leg room they give you. I never put anything on the empty seat, nor put my feet up. I won't offer the seat (unless you are 100 years old), but if someone asks, I will happily move so they can slide in. If you are not brave enough to ask....too bad for you.
Please be careful about jumping to conclusions. I'm a tall man and simply don't fit in Metro seats. If I can't find a "facing" seat I have to sit on the aisle so I have a place for my (long!) legs to go. I try to be mindful of others and give folks access to the inside seat, but if my nose is in a book or newspaper sometimes I'm not aware of what's going on around me. A gentle request for access is always welcome!
So . . . a lot of the vitriol of people defending their right to sit on the aisle seat with an empty seat next to them is aimed at fat people. As a fat person, let me respond. I don't want to plaster myself against you or squish you or cause you discomfort. I have a bad ankle and, since the train have been operated manually, I have had a lot of trouble staying balanced standing up since there aren't a lot of handholds for a short person. If I ask you to move over into the window seat, it is not so I have more room but so that I can sit on the edge of the seat to gain more balance without taking up more than one seat. If I try to move to the inside seat, I will leak over and be taking up "your" space. Even sitting on the edge of the seat and being able to balance with both my tush and my feet grounded helps me and keeps me from the even bigger disaster of actually falling on other people while trying to hold on standing up.
Share your thoughts on Metro seating below or post a comment to one of the ongoing discussions.
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