The nasty shock of be­ing of­fered a seat

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

“Young peo­ple these days have no man­ners” is the sort of thing old blokes like me and John Crace say to each other (If you see me on the tube, please don’t of­fer me your seat, 1 De­cem­ber). But no­body in a so­cial gath­er­ing would dream of sug­gest­ing we might be get­ting on a bit. So why is it that when we get on a crowded tube that young men of­fer us their seat? It’s worse than that. Young women do it as well.

What we need is a strat­egy.

The grey hair doesn’t help, although I have enough to de­lude my­self that I have achieved the suave, sil­ver fox look. Maybe it’s the way we dress? I’m usu­ally in “smart ca­sual”, go­ing home af­ter an af­ter­noon tea dance or I am on my way to a jazz club. There’s not much scope on a crowded train to demon­strate that we can walk un­aided so maybe it’s the way we stand. Then there’s how to re­spond: “No, I’m fine, thanks” or “It’s OK, I’m get­ting off at the next stop”. I’ve tried avoid­ing eye con­tact, then they get up and touch me on the shoul­der. Sug­ges­tions on a post­card… no, not a post­card, that makes me sound old.

Robin Burt


I can em­pathise with John Crace. It was also among the worst mo­ments of my life when, quite a few years ago, I was of­fered a seat on the bus by a young woman. I could only as­sume she thought I was ei­ther preg­nant or el­derly. I was nei­ther, and I was mor­ti­fied.

Mar­garet Finger­hut


It is in­deed a nasty shock the first time you are pub­licly treated as an aged per­son. But please, John Crace, smile nicely, say thank you and sit down. Oth­er­wise the young per­son may be too em­bar­rassed to re­peat the ges­ture. And even­tu­ally you re­ally will need that seat.

Va­lerie Smith

Har­ro­gate, North Yorkshire

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