Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dislike "like" and Commuting Etiquette

I sat in my children’s lit class today and we were discussing Alice in Wonderland, the first four chapters anyway. There was a girl that was sitting a little bit in front of me and she was interjecting some interesting points into the conversation. However, I can’t remember what she said because I was distracted by her repetitive use of the word “like”. By the end of her point, its use was rampant and maddening. By her second sentence, my mind was only picking up the word “like” and it must have taken up at least a third of what she was saying. I know that I use it myself from time to time, but I have found lately that it bothers me greatly. I think that if a class was instructed to pay close attention to what they say and try hard to eliminate this word from their conversation, it would be a lot harder than they would think. I did this experiment on myself once after ranting to a friend about this dislike and realized that even I use it more than I realize. Try it the next time you are in a conversation and see what happens.

This morning, I was on the train to school and it was getting pretty packed in there. I had the thought of writing etiquette guidelines for commuting on the train or campus shuttle buses and having it printed in the U paper. While in London, I got to see firsthand the proper way to commute on a train or bus with 50 million other people during rush hour. We could catch the tube on the way to school during the morning commute and even if the train was stuffed to the gills, people would still try to sandwich in more so you had a chance of getting in and not getting stuck in the doors. Great blokes, they are! You could have your face in someone’s armpit, but still be satisfied that everyone is aboard and on their way. I saw teenagers sit in each others laps, backpacks and suitcase placed between legs to make more body room, and people scrunching together in proximities that one would never dare in any other setting. But everyone made room and all commuted happily.

Here in our great city, it’s another story. I have surmised that the lack of proper commuting etiquette is due to the near infancy of our transit system. NYC and London have had their subway systems for decades and seem to have mastered, on most days, the art of communal commuting. We simply lack the experience. When a new group of people enter a crowded train, everyone in the car should do their best to use every inch to the best advantage of everyone else in the train. Large backpacks should be placed low, preferable on the floor between your legs when standing in the aisles. Laps should be utilized when sitting for shopping bags, purses, and backpacks. The idea is to try to make yourself as small as possible and stick yourself in a corner so others may be able to fit in too. When you enter the train car or a bus and you know that there are people behind you, you need to take an available seat quickly. DO NOT stand in the aisle trying to debate where you should sit, just sit. If seating is unavailable, you should walk down the aisle as far as it can take you, find a place to stand and make room for others. DO NOT walk for a few feet and then stop and claim that space as yours and refuse to go further. There are an unknown number of people behind you that still need to enter the train and find a spot for themselves. Also, subsequent stops will only add to the group, so move it along and share the space.

And how about a discussion on manners? If you see any of the following enter the train: disabled individuals, anyone 30 years or more your senior, a pregnant woman, a parent with young children, or a family that would like to sit together, GIVE UP YOUR SEAT if you are young, healthy, and perfectly able to stand. It’s only common courtesy…you know, that stuff your mom tried to teach you for years. Think if she were watching, she’d be so proud. I could extend this to men giving up their seat to a woman, but that may be asking too much of some people today.

So, what do you think? Think I should submit this to the paper?

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