Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Rudest Woman I Have Ever Met

Well, tonight's train journey (the First Capital Connect 19:45 from King's Cross to Cambridge) was eventful... some woman set her kids a fantastic example by throwing a tantrum when she couldn't get her way.

I'd got to the station too late to comfortably make the 19:15, so I ended up waiting. Naturally, this meant that I was able to get on the 19:45 as soon as boarding started. I found myself a nice seat, stowed my bags and got out a drink and a newspaper. Boring and predictable just like most evening journeys.

Just before the train was due to leave, a fat woman, two other mothers, and four kids got on and decided that, as part of their arrangements, I was going to have to move. I was... non-plussed. Now, if you ask nicely, or give me a few seconds to weigh up "being surrounded by annoying kids" against "the hassle of moving", I'm blatantly going to give up my seat and move somewhere quiet.

But, no, as I had the temerity to want to sit where I was sat, the fat woman immediately goes off on one. Shouting, swearing, trying to insist that I have no right to the seat I'm in, attempting to draw analogies with airlines, making whiny passive-aggressive comments to everyone in earshot. That technique has repeatedly been shown by studies to be the best way to get exactly what you want... if what you want is a punch in the face, anyway.

Obviously goodwill goes right out of the window at that point and you're getting the full-on feature-length Stubbornness Experience (with a cartoon before and ice-cream during the intermission). Needless to say I sat there, quietly reading the Standard, with the fat woman complaining about how unreasonable I was on one side, and one of the kids kicking me in the knee on the other (clearly she sets a good example to them), thinking "wouldn't it be nice if we could all just... get along?" and "if they were doing this to a train company employee, it'd be called 'assault', according to the station posters".

I'm at a loss to understand what distorted sense of entitlement makes someone expect to be able reconfigure the seating arrangements of complete strangers in a public train, and to throw a fit if people don't immediately bend over backwards to accomodate you. It's ridiculous and, frankly, embarassing. One of the kids even suggested calling the police - presumably to tell them that "the bad man won't give up his seat for us", which I suspect is a misdemeanour at best.

As I got up to leave the train, the fat woman gave me a round of applause, which was nice. She probably meant it sarcastically, but who gives a damn? I certainly don't need anyone's approval to occupy a seat on a train, and nor will I apologise for it.

- KoW

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