DEAR MISS MANNERS: The train I take to commute to work is composed of rows of two seats: one window seat and one aisle seat. Inevitably when I board, the only seats left are the aisle seats.
Because I ride the train for five stops, it is often the case that my seat companion wants to get off before my stop. Almost always, I am either kindly asked to get up while the train is still moving, or my companion wordlessly stands up, also while the train is still moving, to prompt me to get up.
I would hate to make the person late for something; however, I do not like getting up while the train is moving. This is because it often lurches in one direction or another, especially as it is braking for its stop, and I am thrown around, trying to balance my belongings.
Sometimes I ask if we could please wait for the train to fully stop. A few people say “no problem,” but more often, they are bothered -- understandably, because I am essentially holding them hostage in their seat until the train fully stops. What is the proper train etiquette in this scenario?
GENTLE READER: Most transportation systems subject their customers to some level of discomfort and inconvenience. (This is, Miss Manners believes, why one hears so many announcements in transit on how much the company cares about its passengers.) Trains make noise, they lurch, and space is at a premium.
Polite passengers (presuming that they are not in need of special accommodation) give more weight to the comfort of fellow passengers than to their own. This means offering seats, making room in the aisle -- and getting up when the inside passenger requests. Remember that another inconvenience of commuter trains is that they hurry people on and off: An inside passenger may have good reason to worry about the time allowed for disembarking.