DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve always ridden buses and subways to work, and make a conscientious effort to make my seat available for the elderly, for pregnant women, for people with obvious disabilities and for small children. In fact, I look up from my paper or phone, scan those entering the train at each station to assess need, and if I see only young, healthy people, I keep my seat -- which I, frankly, enjoy, as I am often fairly tired and enjoy the reading time.
My boss told me that when he’s on a bus (which is seldom, as he’s not from the city), he glares at men who are seated whenever ladies are standing -- even young, healthy women. I was embarrassed to admit he might be glaring at me in those situations.
Have I been incorrect to keep a seat as long as there is any woman standing? I certainly never refuse a seat when anyone asks -- as I figure appearances alone do not determine one’s particular comfort or ability -- but now I wonder if I’m deserving of his glare for not insisting a woman take the seat.
GENTLE READER: How fierce is his glare? Does it work? Do countless male riders blush and jump to their feet?
At best, this is a questionable technique. And your boss seems to have missed the evolution of the precedence system. We have indeed moved from a strict Ladies First order to that based on age and need, which Miss Manners is pleased to note that you have faithfully observed.
She worries that your well-meaning but anachronistic boss will be in for a shock when a equally well-meaning but up-to-date lady offers him her seat because he is her senior.