DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a senior citizen who is quite often unseated on public transportation by someone younger and fitter than I am. Yesterday, after I had taken the last seat, I noticed that someone even older and less fit than I was being outraced by a man in his early 20s. I stood up and gave the loser of the race my seat.
So far, so good, as far as my behavior was concerned.
Now the evil part: I was really tempted to say to the young man who had won the race, “If you’re disabled, please keep your seat,” or “If you’re disabled, don’t get up. I’ll give her my seat.”
Later, as I sat there watching him in his oblivion, I wanted to whip out my camera and ask, “Do you mind if I take a picture of you sitting beneath the sign saying, ‘The law requires you to make seats available to seniors and persons with disabilities’?”
Once, when I was really tired and traveling with someone 10 years older than I am, I actually told a young couple, “Thanks for saving these seats for us. You can get up now.” (They did.)
What can I do to keep myself from behaving in a way that Miss Manners would not approve – or a way that will get me shot?
GENTLE READER: If you are shot, you may take comfort in knowing that the shooter was behaving worse than you. If, however, you decided that the behavior of others justifies your retaliating in kind, you would be no better.
Worse, Miss Manners would say, because you would be pretending to be correcting the very behavior you are practicing.
But you didn’t. You squelched your impulses to be rude and came up with a way of allowing the couple to vacate their seats without being embarrassed. Congratulations.
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