Manspreading and Other Public Transportation Woes

Travel

I’m sure you’ve experienced it. You’re sitting on public transportation, probably sweating and hoping you’re not sitting in some wet substance that’ll stain the back of your pants. The doors open to the next stop and twelve hundred people get on. You, being a conscientious public transportation rider, pull your bags onto your lap and tuck your elbows in, taking up as little space as possible. You’re not comfortable, per say, but you’re not squished.

And that’s when it happens. The passenger next to you either puts their bag between their legs (rather than on their lap) or is trying to air out their inner thighs. Whatever their reasoning, suddenly their legs are spread beyond two parallel lines and what little space you had is now taken up by the manspread.

I should note that women are guilty of this takeover of any and all space, but men are definitely the worst offenders. What makes you think that I want to feel your leg pushed up against mine on the hottest day of the year? What makes you think that your comfort is more important than my right to a personal bubble?

Now I get it, sometimes it’s inevitable. The tube is absolutely packed so your armpit is right at my face level as I try not to flail all over the place. Or we’re all pushed up against the door trying to squeeze two people more onto the traincar between this station and the next. But come on. Spreading your legs out is just unnecessary. (And no this is not a promotion of that weird Russian “activist” who decided to spray bleach on manspreaders.)

You know, I’m actually okay with you manspreading or crossing your leg or putting your bag on the seat next to you, but when the bus/train/metro/etc is full, or someone is sitting right next to you, make yourself tiny please.

This rant on manspreading in public transportation comes after three-ish weeks of traveling by metro in DC. And my problem with metroing to my internship has almost never been with the super crowded four stops on my commute, but instead with the jerks who exist on the metro on the six or so half-crowded stops.

I’ve begun to collect complaints that I would like to share with you now:

One. If you are riding the metro with a friend/co-worker/family member, there is no reason you should not sit next to each other. Do not take up two rows or sit across the aisle from each other and shout over your fellow passengers.

Two. Wear deodorant. Even if it’s not a super humid day, public transportation is smelly enough without your armpit sweat adding to the mix. (Also, please don’t drown yourself in perfume or body spray or cologne. There is such a thing as too much.)

Three. Playing music through your headphones is polite, but if I can hear the entirety of the playlist from across the train, maybe turn it down a dial or two. Your ears will thank you later.

Four. If the seat is empty, you are not required to take it. However, move the heck out of the way. Standing directly in front of an empty seat is worse than taking it from someone who might need it.

Five. Take your backpack off. I have an ongoing theory that three things make people into automatic assholes: backpacks, suitcases, and umbrellas. Fortunately, the last few weeks have been rainy so I’ve been smacked by many a careless umbrella user. I also happen to pass an airport on my commute, so I’ve been tripped up by plenty of lost tourists and self-important businessmen. But backpacks just piss me off. When folks are wearing them, they don’t always remember they’re there and they’ll swing ’em around, pushing people, taking up valuable space, and smacking you with all the random straps that tend to hang off them.

Six. Stop standing directly in front of the door to the train. If you’re in the way, I can’t get off. Now, over the years, I have lost any fear about using my shoulders/elbows/body to push people out of my way, but good golly, why’re you blocking the door? Step to the side!

Seven. You walk on the left of the escalator, you stand on the right. If you’ve got stairs or a broken escalator (which let’s be honest. Just about every escalator in the DC Metro system is broken), why do you feel the need to push past the people standing on the escalator? You have alternatives! Use them!

Eight. If a kid gets on the train, stand up and give them your chair. If you sit in the “priority seating”, you better look up at every stop to see if someone needs your seat. My Metro ride is maybe forty minutes and as much as I would like to kick my feet up and relax, you can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll pop right up if you need my spot.

Nine. If you take one of the free newspapers, take it with you. Metro stations have special recycling bins for newspapers now. Don’t just leave it on the seat for me to have to push on the floor or to the other seat. I didn’t take one because I don’t want the responsibility, why the heck should I have to deal with your leftovers?

Ten. (And my last one, for now.) You are never more important than the other people on the car. You are one of thousands of people trying to get from point A to point B. Everyone’s got a journey. Be kind. Be patient. Don’t manspread.

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One thought on “Manspreading and Other Public Transportation Woes

  1. Please be aware of “families” around you. If a child or young person looks uncomfortable initiate a gentle meaningless conversation with them. Human trafficking is real and everywhere. The Metro makes an anonymous transportation system.

    Like

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